July 16, 2024


Welcome to World technology

Can Microsoft’s New Software Help Teach Children to Read?

Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes:

Microsoft on Wednesday announced Reading Coach (video), software that allows children to practice reading out loud and receive personalized feedback. Reading Coach will be integrated into Word Online, OneNote, Teams, Forms, and many other places in M365 later this summer.

The Reading Coach announcement comes 15 years after a 2007 paper from Microsoft Research employees that described an Automatic Children’s Reading Tutor, which could track children’s oral reading against story texts, detect reading miscues, measure the level of reading fluency, diagnose the nature of the miscues, and provide feedback to improve reading skills. The same Microsoft team described in a 2008 paper an implementation of the Automatic Reading Tutor software on a PDA running Windows Mobile 6, which they dubbed ‘Reading Coach.

Microsoft’s 2022 Reading Coach comes after the release of read-aloud helper software from other tech giants — Amazon’s Reading Sidekick and Google’s Read Along. Efforts to use software to help develop early reading skills are hardly new — in 1994, CMU researchers described a NeXT implementation of A Prototype Reading Coach that Listens as part of Project LISTEN — although widespread adoption has proved elusive. But with advances in tech, schools seeking ways to help students catch up on unfinished learning from the pandemic, and 1:1 computing for most students, could things truly be different this time? When the 2022-23 school year comes around, will Microsoft’s Reading Coach be a 15-year ‘overnight success’ with teachers and parents?