Founders of Hamburg's neurodactics develop inclusive maths app

Research into inclusive digital learning turns practical
08 April 2021

A team of founders at the University of Hamburg has come up with a digital app for mental arithmetic and understanding mathematical for schoolchildren in first and second class initially, a press release said Wednesday (March 10, 2021). The team’s efforts have yielded the EXIST Business Start-up Grant and support from the university. The three founders are now preparing to expand the app to customized learning both in and outside the classroom. This comes against the backdrop of the pandemic which has honed the importance of digital learning applications in school teaching.

Mental arithmetic 

Torben Rieckmann, a research associate at the Faculty of Education who specializes in learning support for children with Down’s Syndrome or trisomy 21, came up with the idea. Rieckmann has won several awards for his mathildr app, which familiarizes schoolchildren with the 0–20 number range using a wooden field of ten, flashcards and wooden cubes.The new app should give children an understanding of mathematical sets and encourage them to do mental arithmetic. The inclusive design will be suitable for all children irrespective of whether they have dyscalculia, are gifted, or have a disability. The EXIST project, neurodactics, will be implemented by Rieckmann and his joint founders Christopher Hof (informatics) and Jonas Vierth (economics). The interdisciplinary team intends to found the neurodactics startup backed by the University of Hamburg’s Start-Up Service and beyourpilot. Prof. Dr. André Zimpel, University of Hamburg will act as their mentor and offer additional expert support.

Individualised learning

During an interview with the Faculty of Education, the founders said the app can be used anywhere and is not limited to instruction in the classroom. The content is adapted to the learner and the child's level of proficiency to prevent over or underchallenging them. Unlike analogue media, the content is always up to date and enables independent learning based on findings from neurodiversity research.  Prof. Dr. Eva Arnold, Dean of the Faculty of Education, said: “We are delighted with this research-based founding project. It shows that startups also belong to the field of educational science transfer and that concrete solutions for current challenges in the area of digital learning emerge from research.”