Special Needs

New iPad App Simplifies Spectrum Student Data Collection

New iPad App Simplifies Spectrum Student Data Collection 

Two Cornell University graduates have introduced a data collection platform specifically for special education teachers working with students who have autism. Thread Learning's Thread helps those educators track the many data points they collect while monitoring and graphing progress across classes and special services the students participate in during the school day. Typically, this is a job handled with pencil and graph paper. The iPad app can then sync up the data from multiple teachers' devices and generate reports and graphs for distribution to student care teams and families.

Co-founders Greg Brill and Sam Raudabaugh met during a Cornell event and began brainstorming an idea Brill had: simplifying the data teachers collect on their students. Brill had worked with autistic students as a volunteer and as a teaching assistant before going to Cornell Tech to earn his master's degree in business.

The program was developed with the Realm Mobile Database, an open source database built specifically for mobile applications. One feature that has turned out to be important for the product is offline access so that caregivers can enter information and access data regardless of whether they have a network or cell connection.

According to a Cornell article, the app is especially helpful to parents, who receive messages "when their child learns a new ability." As an example, if the child learns how to identify a specific color, the parent is encouraged to play a game that night to emphasize the new skill.

Last year the team won a Cornell Tech startup award, which supplied $100,000 in pre-seed funding to enable them to focus on development full time. Now, several schools are testing the platform, including Hawthorne Foundation, a New York-based organization that works with children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Currently, the start-up is making its beta version available for free on its website here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.