Four special-education innovations from ISTE

These four innovations in special-education technology were on display at a special event during the annual ISTE conference in Atlanta

RoboKind’s robot-based ‘autism intervention tool’ is now ready for schools to deploy.

A software program that can boost the memory and attention of students with disabilities, called the “most innovative medical advancement of 2012” by the National Institutes of Health, was among four special-education technologies highlighted during an event at the 2014 ISTE conference in Atlanta.

ISTE stands for the International Society for Technology in Education, and its annual conference is the largest ed-tech trade show in North America.

More than 16,000 educators and administrators gathered in Atlanta for this year’s conference, including a few dozen special-education teachers and administrators who attended a special event on June 30, hosted by the public relations firm C. Blohm & Associates.

For this event, C. Blohm partnered with the Inclusive Learning Network (a special-education focus group affiliated with ISTE), Arc Capital Development, and the Atlanta Braves to showcase four innovations in special-education technology—including a robot with very natural-looking facial expressions that is helping students on the autism spectrum learn social cues.

Also shown during the event was a “cognitive cross-training program” from a company called C8 Sciences, developed by Dr. Bruce Wexler, a neuroscientist at the Yale School of Medicine.

Built on the theory of neuroplasticity—the idea that our brains can change as a result of experience—the program combines computer games and physical exercises to help students with ADHD or other learning disabilities develop eight key areas of “executive functioning” that form the basis for all learning.

The human brain is like a muscle, said Myron Pincomb, an investor in C8 Sciences who was on hand to discuss the program. “If you’re very specific in how you exercise it,” he said, “you’re going to get specific results.”

C8’s ACTIVATE program is being used in some 130 school districts, Pincomb said, including Virginia’s Fairfax County Schools—where about 3,000 students have seen measurable gains in their working memory, sustained attention, and impulse control, while also reducing the time it takes to process information.

(Next page: Three more innovations in special-education technology)

Dennis Pierce

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