H2:WHILE educators, politicians and job creators tell us Ireland needs greater competency in maths, building the skill is something of a challenge. Maths can be difficult, especially for adult learners whose tutors have limited teaching materials.
New to market is Adult Maths, which brings the subject up to date in an interactive, online format.
It is the creation of Michael Hallissy and John Hurley, who set up H2 in 2002 to design and implement curriculum-based projects using ICT and digital media. Both have backgrounds in education and teacher development.
Up to now, H2 has been an ICT/education consultancy but Adults Maths is a stand-alone commercial product, which Hallissy and Hurley hope to sell to adult education facilities around the country. The platform supports tutors and students and the Dublin VEC is to introduce it in 10 of its centres this autumn.
“With adult learners, you very often find two things: they have been put off in the past by traditional teaching or learning methods and they are really lacking in confidence around maths and need a lot of encouragement and support,” says Michael Hallissy.
“That’s a big challenge for those trying to motivate them often with very traditional resources. Our platform tackles the problem from all sides as it provides a stimulating learning environment, targeted teaching materials for tutors and lots of support for the student who can track their progress on line and build a portfolio of their work.
“Basically lifelong learning has been largely untouched by technology up to now and we want to change that starting with maths.” Hallissy says that while there are other teaching platforms on the market, they are not specific to maths and cover less. “Ours is a comprehensive product that will work in an international environment and can be adapted to other subjects,” says Hallissy, whose company is part of a Europe-wide project looking at ways of improving maths performance in adults.
H2 employs four people and is based at the Digital Exchange in Dublin. It has cost about €40,000 to develop the Adult Maths product to date. Last year, it won funding of €50,000 over two years from the Arthur Guinness fund but Hallissy says that while the money was important, the mentoring that goes with the prize was even more so.
“Because we’re a consultancy, we have no experience of developing a product for market, approaching potential customers, setting the pricing and so on. Having the mentoring to help us through this whole process was invaluable.”