Ground Control: Tablet App 
How might we help students with ADD
to concentrate on reading tasks?

Reading isn’t a straightforward task for everyone. 1 in 10 American students has attention deficit disorder (ADD), and they have problems with staying focused, organizing their thoughts, and remembering details—all of which impact reading comprehension.
ADD makes learning by reading difficult and time-consuming. It is especially hard on high school students because the amount of reading increases drastically at this age and is required in all subjects for academic success. How, then, might we help students with ADD to concentrate on reading tasks?

Ground Control is a tablet application that encourages students with ADD to stay on track and transforms reading into an empowering experience. Through an integrated note-taking system and haptic feedback, this digital reading environment helps students identify and quickly recover from distracting behaviors.
The app can be adapted to match each individual student’s pace and preempts frustrations through peer-generated sharing and assistance. With Ground Control, students strengthen concentration and build awareness around their reading habits and become more confident learners.

8 months
User Research, Product Design
Inclusive Design
Solo Interaction, Product,
UI designer,
UX Researcher
Kelly R. Saxton (Research and User experience Designer in Ed Tech)
Eric Forman (SVA)
Graham Letorney (SVA, Shutterstock)
Sketch, Principle, Invision studio, 
The first feature that student-users see when using the app is the timer. Setting a timer for how long you want to dedicate to one activity creates a sense of commitment and, therefore, develops the practice of concentration. Moreover, timing the reading helps to break down a long activity into small chunks and makes it feel more achievable. The break goal encourages readers to take breaks as a reward after they are committed for 30 minutes. It also sustains productivity and prevents distraction.
Most textbooks are designed to fit the largest amount of content onto each page, which can be overwhelming to students with ADD. They even get anxious and jump ahead a few lines, which hurts their reading comprehension and motivation to continue the reading. The Ground Control interface is designed specifically to help focus a reader on smaller chunks of text. It converts traditional academic layouts into an uncluttered grid and shows only a few paragraphs per page. This makes the text more manageable, and if students get distracted, they immediately know where they were on the page.
Students with ADD find that switching activities helps them stay productive, and in most ebooks, highlighting text requires many steps. But with Ground Control, students can highlight words by just dragging a finger over the text. This ensures they're paying attention and actively engaging with the reading. If they want to remove a highlighted sentence, they just swipe back.
Mapping content is a helpful way to keep readers active, so the mind map lets students organize thoughts into a visual flow. Students hold down a highlighted word, and drag and drop it into a category. The color coding helps them to organize thoughts while reading, retain new information, and review for tests later.​​​​​​​
In case high schoolers are struggling to understand a text, Ground Control helps them by showing other student-users’ highlightings and encourages to make their own highlights. This prevents readers from giving up during reading in case of difficulty.​​​​​​​
Students with ADD report that they often get lost in their own thoughts and only realize it several minutes later. When students haven’t touched the screen for more than a minute, the app realizes and prompts users to check-in. If they don’t respond, the app emits an alert to call back their attention. Once they have refocused, students can categorize the event that led them to distraction; learning the cause of the distraction is crucial to changing behavior.​​​​​​​
As students use Ground Control, the app collects data and generates a report, which shows how long they take to read a page, what distracts them, and how it impacts their reading ability. By building self-awareness, students become more confident learners.​​​​​​​
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