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The 2021 Fast ForWord Software Changes Explained

Written By Geoff Nixon . August 27, 2021

Upgrades to Accelerate the Pace of Student Gains

Since Adobe’s announcement in 2017 that it would no longer support its Flash Media Player after 2020, designers and web-based program coders have been working overtime to move programs and websites to HTML5 format.  While rewriting existing programs and websites to accommodate the new format is a monumental feat, these changes will allow for significant updates to occur, including improvements to the Fast ForWord software.

Scientific Learning responded to this challenge with three other benefits in mind, since they had to rewrite the code from Flash to HTML 5 anyway:

  1. Easier exercise starting points to help more children get started
  2. Improve sequences to speed up progress
  3. Add encouragement and help

Fast ForWord Upgrades Started With Foundations I

In response to the need to move off Flash,Scientific Learning launched Foundations I.  This updated cognitive program replaced Language v2. Foundations I contains the same seven exercises from Language v2 and is backed by the science dedicated to the Fast ForWord cognitive series, continuing to enforce the efficacy of this influential program and its research. The following enhancements have been shared by Scientific Learning:

  • Improved exercise introductions that provide learners with multiple levels of coaching and interventions, ensuring they understand the exercise activity and what’s expected.
    • Students are more comfortable with the exercise objectives from the start and need less intervention to get going.
    • With more thorough explanation of the objectives at the start and again when a student starts to struggle with material helps students work through challenges with more ease.
  • Built-in coaching that helps learners stay motivated and progress more quickly. Learners now have more autonomy in getting themselves “unstuck” and back on track with automated interventions that provide just-in-time support.
    • There is built in help for the students that will kick in when a student struggles or options to get help within exercises, if needed.
    • The Autoplay option was added to help students keep going and automatically asks the next questions or gives the next prompt (students feel like the exercise “goes faster”).
    • If an exercise is left idle, the program reminds the student to keep going (great for students struggling with focus or staying on task).
  • Explicit instruction on language concepts, grammatical structures, and vocabulary, which are particularly helpful to English language learners, special education students, and younger learners.
    • Students go through different training sections to build understanding of complex language conventions.
    • The exercises review vocabulary in detail with modelling and picture definitions.
  • Increased adaptivity within finely-tuned exercises creates a more personalized experience, enabling learners to fast-track through content they find easy and slow down when the content gets challenging. Greater gains can be achieved when each learner spends more time working in the zone that’s the correct level of difficulty for that learner.
    • The program is more adaptive to each individual user.
    • A replay button was added so, when needed, students can hear a sound sequence or sentence a second time.
  • New progress indicators that provide students with real-time feedback during their Fast ForWord sessions—from the initial dashboard showing their current status on today’s assignment to new “in-exercise” indicators like the progress feeder meter, completion status sign, and other fun celebrations.
    • Students know during the exercise if they are making progress and it helps with confidence and motivation.
    • Students know how much further they have to go until and exercise if fully completed.

Fast ForWord Upgrades – Phase 2

Scientific Learning has now successfully updated and released into HTML5 format the Reading Progress Indicator assessment, Reading Assistant Plus, Reading 1, Reading 2 and Reading 3 programs. Language to Reading, the counterpart to Language v2, has been replaced by Foundations II and is the second and final cognitive program.

The Fast ForWord upgrades for older children are complete also.  Fast ForWord Literacy – the middle, high school and adult student cognitive program – has been replaced by two programs – Elements I and Elements II.

And more recently, in August 2021, Scientific Learning has released Reading Comprehension, a program that takes exercises from the old Reading 4 and Reading 5, with a focus on reading comprehension.

Ideas in the hopper for future releases include a spelling program, and bringing back the likes of Hog Hat Zone, one of the most beloved exercises from Reading 3.

So far our clients have prospered enormously from these changes.  And we are confident that there are more good things to come.

Fast ForWord is Easier Now – Try Again?

If your child has tried Fast ForWord in the past, but has not been able to get started, the early exercises were too fast or too hard, you might want to revisit the program.  The onramp is more gentle, it’s easier for autistic children and children with more severe auditory processing difficulties, and there is more in-software guidance.

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