Our Research Team

Zeeko’s Researchers Are Working On A Series Of Outstanding Projects That Combine Technological Innovations With The Educational Needs Of Children, Parents, And Teachers

The Influence of Regional Pronunciation Variation on Children’s Spelling and the Potential Benefits of Accent Adapted Spellcheckers*

A child who is unfamiliar with the correct spelling of a word often employs a “sound it out” approach: breaking the word down into its constituent sounds and then choosing letters to represent the identified sounds. This often results in a misspelling that is orthographically very different to the intended target. Recently, efforts have been made to develop phonetic based spellcheckers to tackle the more deviant nature of children’s misspellings. However, little work has been done to investigate the potential of spelling correction tools that incorporate regional pronunciation variation. If a child must first identify the sounds that make up a word, it stands to reason their pronunciation would influence this process. We investigate this hypothesis along with the feasibility and potential benefits of adapting spelling correction tools to more specific language variants - particularly Irish Accented English. We use misspelling data from schoolchildren across Ireland to adapt an existing English phonetic based spellchecker and demonstrate improvements in performance. These results not only prompt consideration of language varieties in the development of spellcheckers but also con tribute to existing literature on the role of regional accent in the acquisition of writing proficiency.

Children's Spelling

Virtual Avatars as Children Companions For a VR-based Educational Platform: How Should They Look Like?*

Virtual Avatars

Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential of becoming a game changer in education, with studies showing that VR can lead to better quality of and access to education. One area that is promising, especially for young children, is the use of Virtual Companions that act as teaching assistants and support the learners’ educational journey in the virtual environment. However, as it is the case in real life, the appearance of the virtual companions can be critical for the learning experience. This paper studies the impact of the age, gender and general appearance (human- or robot-like) of virtual companions on 9-12 year old children. Our results over two experiments (n=24 and n=13) tend to show that children have a bigger sense of Spatial Presence, Engagement and Ecological Validity when interacting with a human-like Virtual Companion of the Same Age and of a Different Gender.

S-capade: Spelling Correction Aimed at Particularly Deviant Errors*

Spelling errors are often considered one of two types: typographic or cognitive [22]. Typographic errors are the results of motor coordination slips; perhaps substituting a character for an adjacent one on the keyboard. Cognitive errors, on the other hand, stem from a misconception or lack of knowledge regarding the correct spelling of a word. One particular subset of these cognitive errors are known as phonetic errors where the writer produces a misspelling that, whilst not orthographically correct, captures the phonetic sequence of the target word.

S-capade Spelling Correction

Digital Trend Report

Digital Trend Report

Research is the key to understanding the perspective and behaviour of children when it comes to matters of internet safety. We update Zeeko Education programmes with the latest research results. The results help us develop best practices in the prevention and dealing with online risks. Zeeko Education is based on objective Irish digital trends.

VR Technology Challenges And Opportunities Of VR Technologies In Education For Children, Parents, And Teachers

Virtual reality (VR) technologies will become increasingly popular in education, entertainment and training. So, it is important to anticipate this emerging technology's impact on our everyday lives (as has already happened with smartphones). While most research emphasizes the positive aspects of VR, especially in education to foster learning processes, little is known about the ‘side-effects’ of VR on children’s health and well-being. This EU-funded research project intends to explore the positive and negative aspects of VR usage in educational contexts (schools and families).

Discover More About VR

*This material is based upon works supported by the Science Foundation Ireland under Grant No. SOW2019-079

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The opinions, finding and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Science Foundation Ireland.