MAGRID helps to unlock the potential of all children, including neurodivergent children, by giving them equal opportunities to learn. In what way does it? What does this pedagogical program consist of?
If you look at any typical classroom, you will find children who are typically developing, with developmental delays, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, hearing difficulties, attention disorders, language disorders, and not familiar with the language of instruction. These all represent obstacles to learning. But teaching is designed to help children that are typically developing who are familiar with the language of instruction. This is important to note because in any typical classroom, anywhere from 10% to 60% or more (for example in classes where a large majority of children have migratory backgrounds) are not getting to learn at the same pace and depth. A learning gap is created and that gap grows over time as the cycle continues. What we found in our research is that we can remove the obstacle to learning – that being language. And by removing language as a barrier we saw significant improvements in learning maths. In fact language as a barrier at this level is so powerful that even typically developing children who are familiar with the language of instruction improved their learning as well. In other words, Magrid creates a level learning field so that all children can improve their math development abilities. We took a different approach. We didn’t rely on existing methods and just try to remove language. Instead we looked at the latest research on maths learning to get the highest possible learning outcomes. So, we built a whole new training program using the latest evidence-based findings and at the same time meeting the ministry of education’s standards. Magrid first develops visual-spatial, cognitive, and then numerical and mathematical abilities. Every aspect of it is visual and language-neutral so it is very intuitive for children. Magrid is also tactile, children have to use their fingers which helps with developing motor skills and improves learning. Finally, Magrid is sensory friendly to keep children focused and increase their attention span. We have 2,500 learning activities to complete over 2 years.
The MAGRID learning solution is the result of more than five years of research and development at the University of Luxembourg. Bringing together the knowledge of experts with 20 years of experience, how important has this research proved to be for everyone? Is it legitimate to say that MAGRID changes lives?
It is critical. Without evidence-based research Magrid would be no different than any other math tool out there and wide learning gaps would still exist. Instead, we see that Magrid significantly improves math learning. I have a PhD in Psychology and a master in computer science, therefore research, the scientific method, and hard evidence is at the heart of everything we do at Magrid. It is interesting, in that we set out to solve a problem in Luxembourg for children with migratory backgrounds but came upon a solution that helps so many more. That is the power of the scientific method. Only time will tell the magnitude of change that Magrid can have on the lives of children. But today, we can see quantitatively and qualitatively that Magrid significantly improves math learning and equally important we see children who had no interest in math or were even intimidated by it grow an interest and thrive in math after using Magrid.
Sustainability has been on the agenda and the area in which MAGRID operates is no exception. In what way, taking into account its activity, has it chosen this path?
We have adopted the UN’s SDG’s 4 – Quality Education, 9 – Innovation, and 10 – Reduced Inequalities. These SDG’s are at the heart of what we do at Magrid. For us quality education cannot be achieved without scientific validation and research. That is why we are continuously expanding testing of Magrid by working with Universities, researchers, psychologists, and parents. Magrid itself is an innovative solution but we plan to add more innovative functions and features, including AI to improve learning outcomes. Finally, we started developing Magrid to reduce the problem of inequity in education for children with migratory backgrounds. Based on our findings and research, we then made Magrid more accessible and inclusive so that all children, even those with special education needs could use Magrid and significantly improve their math learning.
Knowing the relevant role that MAGRID assumes in society, and given the countless changes in the world, such as the transition to the green economy, what news can we expect for the future?
Education, without equity, is not progress. Progress, without education, is not achievable. It is heartening to see global movements for equity and inclusion, not just because it is the right thing to do but because every child and person should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. In the next year or two we plan on conducting more testing, and developing activities and lessons for older students. I hope that Magrid and solutions like Magrid that are inclusive and evidence-based become the norm. That, to me, would be the best news. Until that day, we will continue to work on our mission to give every child an equal opportunity to learn.
What impact will this necessary change bring to the country and, in particular, to the area that MAGRID occupies?
We are in the fourth industrial revolution and you hear about the importance of STEM education in schools, for the jobs of tomorrow, and even hear employers say that many employees today are not adequately prepared for jobs today. Research based, innovative solutions that develop and improve math, cognitive, technology, science, and engineering skills and knowledge is critical today and will be even more important in the future. This is where Magrid helps. We have huge global challenges which require new and innovative solutions. Magrid is designed to be a global solution.