Computer-Based Training Program Tackles Student Concentration Problem Q&A with Unique Logic and Technology CEO Peter Freer
The age-old battle for teachers is trying to break through to students whose struggle to learn is not based solely on their inability to grasp concepts, but instead on their inability to sit through a lesson due to a lack of focus or inattentiveness. Enter technology that is used by NASA astronauts and U.S. Air Force pilots to stay alert in the cockpit, manipulate it a bit to make it an interactive learning tool, and you get the Play Attention Learning System. But the system doesn’t just benefit children, it is also good for adults with similar challenges facing them in everyday life who want to gain more focus and concentration. Recently, Play Attention was used to assist autistic students and traumatic brain injury patients with great success as well. T.H.E. Journal spoke with Unique Logic and Technology CEO Peter Freer, inventor of the Play Attention Learning System, about his product and its benefits.
T.H.E.: How does the Play Attention Learning System (www.playattention.com) work?
Peter Freer: Play Attention is a patented computer-based feedback training system for students who demonstrate difficulty in focusing attention and restless behaviors. Its interactive ‘Edufeedback’ format incorporates the latest brain research for rapid gains in attention and increases skills necessary for success in the learning process. A sensor-loaded helmet that monitors the user’s attention and cognition brain waves allows the user to control computer exercises by [his or her] mind alone. The unique primary training method allows students to see their attention in real time. Students can actually control screen characters by mind alone in activities that directly teach them to stay on task, visually track the teacher during a classroom lesson, follow multiple-step directions by increasing short-term memory skills, and learn to filter out distractions. … Coupled with a success-based behavior shaping program, Play Attention teaches students to increase focus and reduce behaviors not conducive to learning.
T.H.E.: For whom is the program designed, and how d'es it help them?
Freer: Play Attention is designed for students of any age. It is in use at over 450 school systems and 20 learning centers in the U.S., as well as in thousands of homes, psychologists’ offices, universities and rehabilitation hospitals. We have another 60 learning centers worldwide. …It helps students learn to focus and increase cognitive skills necessary to perform well at school and at work.
T.H.E.: How long d'es it usually take someone using your product to show signs of improvement?
Freer: Signs of improvement usually appear within two weeks after using Play Attention. But we are developing new neural pathways and strengthening underdeveloped ones; for lasting results, we recommend 40 to 60 hours of training. Improvement develops in small steps. Teachers typically note that students will behave better in class, complete more assignments and not blurt out impulsively within the first month. These steps seem minor to outside observers, but are quantum leaps in behavior for [those] with attention problems.
T.H.E.: What kind of product support do you offer to schools?
Freer: First, each account has a dedicated educational adviser. We pride ourselves on our educational and technical support - both of which are free to the original purchaser for the life of the product. Play Attention is a distance learning program, so our professionals give live 1.5 hour phone tutorials, online data analysis and telephone consulting on an as-needed basis at no extra cost.
This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.