Education technology company Ooka Island is targeting parents and communities, not just teachers, in its quest to eradicate illiteracy. Is it a great example of technology's potential or a reflection of a broken school system?
"Our game is designed to act like a live tutor that responds and adapts to each child," says Joelle MacPhee, Director of Reading Partnerships, from her Manhattan office. The technology startup is the second successful venture in a MacPhee family mission that began over 40 years ago.
"My father was born with only 5% of his hearing," explains MacPhee. "My grandmother (Dr. Kay MacPhee, former educator) found the school system wasn't geared toward his learning needs so she researched and developed a supplemental program to help him."
Hearing-impaired kids aren't the only ones with learning difficulties. In their 2011 Nation's Report Card, the National Center for Education Statistics found 68% of all US fourth grade students cannot read at the proficient level. Two-thirds of those kids will end up in jail or on welfare, the study claims.