It all began with Sara’s research, her study of second language acquisition, gaining a better understanding of the diversity of language experience and how linguistic diversity relates to language, cognition, speech, and literacy and academic achievement. Sara is uniquely familiar with the achievement gap that English language learners, in the United States face.
More than 90% of ELL students still struggle with learning, as they have little or no access to quality instruction tailored to their individual needs, despite being enrolled in school-sponsored programs. And according to the National Center for Education Statistics, achievement gaps between ELL and non-ELL students in the NAEP reading assessment were 36 points at the 4th-grade level and 44 points at the 8th-grade level. Providing effective, equitable education to ELLs has been identified as “one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. public education today.”
One day, as she watched her niece play Niantic’s Pokemon Go, Sara saw how engrossed and immersed her niece was in that world. She wondered if augmented reality technologies might offer a solution to the achievement gap that ELLs face. Through research, she knew that AR enhances learning and classroom engagement and is considerably cheaper, eliminating barriers to entry. With AR, students most likely would not have to buy a special equipment in order to access the tech. They would only need their phones. But, would it really be the answer? She was introduced to Murewa in her desire to tackle this endeavor and together they participated in customer discovery through National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps™) program, starting with the Site program at USF in the fall of 2020, and later in the national NSF I-Corps™ 2021 Spring Cohort #1. Together, they talked to hundreds of stakeholders, and validated their hypothesis of the market’s awareness of the problem, and the need for an effective solution.
The rest they say is history.