UNESCO Professor Heikki Lyytinen celebrates International Literacy Day

The International Literacy Day celebrations are taking place all over the world to highlight the meaning and importance of reading, a life-saving skill and a fundamental human right. We interviewed Professor Heikki Lyytinen about his work and plans for the future. See all videos here.

Professor Heikki Lyytinen participates the literacy day event at Lukukeskus and is the keynote speaker in Tampere  at the 5th Conference of the European Societies of Neuropsychology  on Wednesday the 9th September, 2015.

GraphoGame at the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading conference


The Society for the Scientific Study of Reading held the annual conference of reading research in Hawaii in 15.-18. July 2015. UNESCO Professor Heikki Lyytinen spoke about the possibilities to utilize mobile technology and learning games in improving literacy around the world. Children can have challenges in learning to read either due to biological factors (dyslexia) or environmental factors (poor quality of education). However, regardless of the cause of the reading challenges, children can be supported by inventions like GraphoGame. While the GraphoGame was originally developed to support Finnish children with dyslexia, it is now being studied in over 20 countries across the globe with the aim to develop new language versions. The greatest impact could be created in Sub-Saharan Africa where teachers may have limited professional education in literacy instruction and therefore are unable to support children who are struggling with learning. Mobile learning game can provide much needed support for practicing basic reading skills,  and as mobile phones are widely used in Africa, GraphoGame can help millions of children to learn to read. The presentation pdf can be downloaded here.

GraphoGame: An effective tool for enhancing word reading skills in Greek

Our study aimed to compare a grapho-phonemic program, the GraphoGame (Lyytinen, Erskine, Kujala, Ojanen, & Richardson, 2009), with a cognitive program, the PREP: PASS Reading Enhancement Program (Papadopoulos, Das, Parrila, & Kirby, 2003), for the enhancement of reading performance in early school years (age 6, Grade 1). For the purposes of the study, Graphogame was adapted and piloted in Greek, a language with a transparent orthography such as Finnish, as a web-based intervention. Moreover, an electronic version of the PREP program was designed and developed.

Results revealed that children in the GraphoGame group showed sizable improvements in phonological, naming, cognitive, reading, and orthographic processing skills over time. The development in these abilities was comparable to the development seen in the CA-C group, after controlling for their initial score, which was far faster than what would be expected over participants’ school careers. The new and interesting finding is that this improvement was also observed when the two types of interventions were delivered in combination.

We also developed and applied a novel computational framework for microgenetic analysis (e.g., Siegler, 2007) to accurately describe development through intervention and to collect information regarding how the anticipated improvement was produced in the participant-treatment interaction. Traditionally, the efficacy of reading remediation programs has been determined by comparing participants’ performance to controls in measures of cognitive, linguistic, reading, and orthographic processing skills at pre-, mid-, and post-intervention assessments. However, computerized implementation of the remedial programs goes a step further and enables recording of microgenetic data during intervention. Results showed that an improved treatment should start with GraphoGame intervention, administered for at least 15 tasks and terminated by the 25th task, without significant loss in the final gain on phonemic decoding fluency. The treatment should conclude with PREP remediation to boost word reading fluency. Another interesting finding is that GraphoGame seems to facilitate more the improvement of phonemic decoding fluency skills, and that children need to have some basic word reading skills prior to remediation in order to gain from remediation on word reading fluency.

Computer-assisted remedial reading interventions can be considered as effective supportive instruments for struggling readers, if they are theory-driven and evidence-based and part of the daily classroom routines. Results emphasize on the need for devising such remedial schemes, if we wish to determine strong effects on literacy.

For more information, please contact Christiana Ktisti (@: christianaktisti@yahoo.gr) or Timothy Papadopoulos (@: papadopoulos.timothy@ucy.ac.cy), Department of Psychology and Center for Applied Neuroscience, University of Cyprus.