The dropout rate in people with learning disabilities increases in higher education. In this line, the dyslexia, which is not only a specific learning disorder that causes difficulties, but also a barrier that students face causing psychological problems such as depression or anxiety and often causes isolation from their own peers. In this context arises the european project called Vrailexia, focused on the search for tools that alleviate this situation and improve the quality of learning of these students and in which the University of Córdoba (UCO) participates.
The project, as reported by the academic institution, obtained the highest score in the Erasmus + KA203 call, aims to give help and support to higher education students with dyslexia through a digital platform, -Be sepecial-, which combines Artificial Intelligence with virtual reality. The European project is led by the University of Tuscia (Italy), while the UCO is in charge of developing the virtual reality of the project.
Vrailexia will use artificial intelligence to develop algorithms based on a European bank with data on diagnoses, tests and psychological evaluations of university students with dyslexia. These algorithms will allow the development of new learning strategies, materials and teacher training.
The group coordinator at the UCO, Sara Pinzi, and the researchers from the same team, María Dolores Redel and Pilar Aparicio, highlight the lack of data on dyslexic people at the University, compared to other stages of school life such as Primary, Secondary and even Baccalaureate. In this line, the project monitors this information through a questionnaire to later detect which system those students who manage to reach university have used and, a posteriori, that they are able to describe it and be able to integrate it into their AI algorithm.
The project also has a training part focused on students, to improve creativity and entrepreneurial mentality, and another for teachers, increasing awareness about dyslexia. One of the training activities focused on students is In the shoes of dislexics students (in the shoes of students with dyslexia), initiated by the team’s researcher Pilar Aparicio and whose purpose is to make the classmates understand the difficulties they face when facing a real situation in learning, such as reading a text.
Thanks to the opportunity to participate in a European project, the research group has been able to take a leap towards internationalization and exhibit its work. They agree that it is being an interesting challenge, given that as a result of the pandemic, the importance of virtualization of content has become known, especially the work of virtual laboratories to facilitate social inclusion.