Article in Frontiers in Psychology: GraphoGame – a catalyst for multi-level promotion of literacy in diverse contexts

The article describes how GraphoLearn/GG has been developed from a Finnish dyslexia prevention game to an intervention method that can be used not only to improve children’s reading performance but also to raise teachers’ and parents’ awareness of the development of reading skill and effective reading instruction methods. There is also an overview of the GraphoLearn/GG activities in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia, and the potential to promote education for all with a combination of scientific research and mobile learning.

Read the full article:

Ojanen, E., Ronimus, M., Ahonen, T., Chansa-Kabali, T., February, P., Jere-Folotiya, J., Kauppinen, K-P., Ketonen, R., Ngorosho, D., Pitkänen, M., Puhakka, S., Sampa, F., Walubita, G., Yalukanda, C., Pugh, K., Richardson, U., Serpell, R. & Lyytinen, H. (2015). GraphoGame – a catalyst for multi-level promotion of literacy in diverse contexts. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 671. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00671Open access

Meet GraphoGame at Slush 2015

The GraphoGame mobile learning game can teach the basics of reading in different languages. Our intention is to launch 10+ GraphoGame language versions starting from year 2016. The game is fun to play and engaging for the intended age group of 5 to 9 year old children.

Black_RGB_ForDigitalUseThe Unesco Education for All Global Monitoring Report says that:

“Around 250 million children of primary school-age are not reaching a minimum learning standard”

All these children could get a great start by learning to read with our GraphoGame method! Now, how cool is that?

And what we have in our hands is not just a vision or a “minimum viable product”. The method is already in use in Finland since 2007, with more than 300 000 registered users. The Finnish little brother of GraphoGame is called Ekapeli, the “first game” that all Finnish children use in school or at home to learn the basics of reading. The service is supported in Finland by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Now you have the opportunity to meet us in Helsinki, Finland, Slush this wednesday 11.11.2015 at 16:00-18:00 at the demo area A1-A2.

And please sign up to our newsletter for upcoming releases!

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 (@: or Timothy Papadopoulos (@:, Department of Psychology and Center for Applied Neuroscience, University of Cyprus.

Professor Heikki Lyytinen appointed as UNESCO Chair

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has made an agreement with the University of Jyväskylä about a UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Literacy Learning for All. The University has appointed Professor Heikki Lyytinen as UNESCO Professor to work for this global goal, and the Agora Center coordinates the actions.

Recent reports of international development have revealed new crises in African schools. The number of children with school access has increased but actual learning outcomes are poor or non-existent. Globally 130 million children have remained illiterate despite several years at school. Even graduating primary school does not ensure that basic literacy skills have been acquired. While there are multiple reasons for these shortcomings, it is obvious that learning outcomes will not improve without stronger emphasis on evidence-based policies, scientifically valid instruction methods and effective teacher training programs.

Learning literacy by mobile gaming

The mission of the new UNESCO Professor Heikki Lyytinen is to help children globally, specifically in Africa, to learn to read. Although it may seem surprising in the African context, the new approach for promoting literacy and providing learning materials for children and training materials for teachers is by using mobile technology such as mobile phones and tablets. It is acknowledged that in Africa most people use mobile phones for reading and writing. Very few have books but majority have mobile phones and are increasingly using the internet with them.

– Information on learning to read and reading materials in African languages should be available for free. This can be best secured if we use the modern mobile technology, Lyytinen confirms. Mobile game-based learning is also a known Finnish strength.

For this purpose, the GraphoGame, a mobile game-based learning method is developed by Lyytinen’s team in the Agora Center of the University of Jyväskylä, together with the Niilo Mäki Institute. The method has been proven efficient already in Finland nationally, and in several other countries in pilot studies. The method is based on new scientific understanding of learning to read: literacy instruction methods need to be language-specific and matched with the type of orthography in each language.

Empowering researchers in Africa

There are many challenging factors in African schools but lack of scientific knowledge should not be one them. Quality in education cannot be improved without capacity building in human sciences. Scientific research on learning has to happen in Africa by African people to ensure that the results are meaningful for the local societies.

– Educational challenges in Africa will not be conquered without multidisciplinary, international scientific research in human sciences. Supporting young African scholars in their career is of paramount importance, Heikki Lyytinen points out. The first two African scholars defended their doctoral dissertations related to our GraphoGame activities in August 2014. (Read more here and here )

– To reach our goal, we have established the GraphoWorld Network of Excellence together with top researchers throughout the world, says Professor Lyytinen. – However, our goal is enormous and we are constantly seeking for additional support and resources. Welcome to join this collaboration and dialogue on language, literacy and learning, and ICT-solutions for promoting literacy in African languages!


Read more about GraphoGame and activities in Africa:

Human Technology: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Humans in ICT Environments – Special Issue on Supporting Urgent Basic Reading Skills in Children May 2014 

Fun with GraphoGame

PRESS RELEASE January 23, 2015

The Agora Center from the University of Jyväskylä exhibits its research results in educational games at the BETT 2015 exhibition in Excel, London on January 21-24. BETT is the world’s leading international event on learning technology, hosting about 25 000 expert visitors each year.

At BETT, the Agora Center specifically focuses on the newly published English demo of the GraphoGame, a literacy learning game that has been utilized nationally in Finland for years with remarkable results. The free-of-charge demo game is now available in Google Play. In addition to GraphoGame, the Agora Center is presenting results from FUN, a collaborative project between Finnish and American partners focusing on game-based learning of science and mathematics. The FUN project result video was launched during the BETT show in YouTube.

– Hundreds of thousands of children have learned how to read with the Finnish GraphoGame. We want to offer this efficient and fun learning possibility to all the children in the world, envisions Professor Heikki Lyytinen, developer of the game.

– Naturally, literacy instruction is language-based, and therefore we have a network of world-leading researchers to support us in developing new language versions.

In the UK, our collaborator professor Usha Goswami, Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at the University of Cambridge, leads a project that looks at how developing phonological awareness through rime analogy using the GraphoGame can affect how children learn to read.

– We have received support from the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation for development of the international GraphoGame and its distribution, tells Mikko Pitkänen, head of project management. At BETT, we have had plenty of interested visitors from various countries. We have found not only customers but also new collaborators.

We are now looking forward to people downloading and trying out the free GraphoGame demo, and please give us feedback!

Mikko Pitkänen,, phone +358 400 247 409

Heikki Lyytinen,, phone +358 50 5524892

Fun Project – Mikko Vesisenaho,, phone +358400247686

Meet GraphoGame Team at BETT show in London 21-24 January 2015

GraphoGame US English DemoGraphoGame Team is represented in BETT show 21 -24 January 2015 in Excel, London.

Download the GraphoGame Demo or come and visit our  stand E55. We have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of interested teachers and collaborators.

The demo is just a starter for what we will be providing for primary learners of reading and literacy. We have 20+ language versions in R&D and are preparing a product launch this year.

Stay tuned for news and releases by signing up for the GraphoGame newsletter via email! You can also follow our social media in Facebook and Twitter  for online updates from #BETT2015.