Allison Gravois, a Nicholls State University education student, tutors a local elementary school student with the assistance of an iPad. It’s part of a pilot program at Nicholls overseen by associate professors of education Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur and Dr. Francis Crochet. Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy.
THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University education students are preparing for classrooms of the future, by using iPad apps to provide cutting-edge tutoring to struggling young readers.
Launched in August, the Technology Assisted Reading Interventions (TARI) project outfits education juniors and seniors at Nicholls with iPads and literacy apps. Students are then paired with struggling readers from local elementary schools to provide high-quality technology-assisted tutoring.
The project, funded by a $43,600 Louisiana Board of Regents grant, is being administered by Nicholls associate professors of education Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur and Dr. Francis Crochet.
“TARI is one of our innovative projects in the College of Education to improve K-12 learning as our candidates prepare to be effective educators,” said Education Dean Dr. Leslie Jones.
Vavasseur said the use of technology like iPads in classrooms has been a growing trend, particularly because tablets provide the opportunity for one-on-one interaction between the teacher and student. Carefully selected apps and eBooks, when paired with reading instruction, have been shown to support struggling readers and improve certain reading comprehension skills.
“Most of the iPad apps we have found are fun — they’re games, they’re interactive and there’s a lot of movement and animation. The kids are excited about learning, and our students are prepared to teach with 21st century technology,” Crochet said.
Nicholls juniors and seniors will also use their experiences to evaluate reading intervention apps and tools, and at the end of the course they will create and publish a free interactive eBook to assist future teachers in choosing and utilizing the technology in their own classrooms.
“The focus is using this technology as a tool to help struggling readers find success,” Vavasseur said. “The trend right now in education is one-to-one learning, with many schools aiming to equip every child with some kind of device. This trend has grown so fast, and our end goal with this project is to give teachers a resource to implement these strategies successfully.”
In the past five years, the Nicholls College of Education has been transformed by the use of technology. Innovative programs like Colonel Chat and Storytime with the Colonels allow education majors at Nicholls to provide one-on-one tutoring and interactive reading experiences with young students over video chat, reaching more classrooms without the limitations of distance.
For more information on the Nicholls College of Education, visit www.nicholls.edu/education.