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The tool is built into the Microsoft Suite and can also be used on the web via Immersive Reader
Student-centered, or personalized, learning has long been established as the more effective approach compared to the traditional curriculum-center method. Ironically, it was artificial intelligence that came to serve as the top personalization tool today in any segment – and it’s no surprise that education technology is seizing this prospect.
The tech giants are, of course, at the forefront of these applications. Microsoft has recently made its Reading Coach, a personalized AI reading assistant, available to anyone at no cost. The tool is handy for educators and students, as well as pretty much any Microsoft account holder seeking to improve his or her reading fluency.
Starting last week, the tool became available for free public preview on the web and on the Windows app, targeting parents, educators, and schools. The aim is to “engage students and improve reading fluency with AI-powered stories and personalized practice.”
Reading Coach was initially introduced in March 2022 as the next iteration of Reading Progress, its program within Microsoft Teams for Education. Students using Reading Progress got reports with data such as words read per minute and accuracy, while educators could send personalized feedback. Reading Coach came out of that project as a helper to identify problem points and provide a practice strategy.
As Microsoft announced the availability of Reading Coach for all last week, it also revealed the tool’s new story-building feature aimed at propelling students’ motivation to read. As Microsoft described in a post, “Learners select the story’s protagonist, setting, and are provided with choices that alter the plot of the story as they read. Reading Coach combines these inputs with the learner’s selected reading level, and over time, words they mispronounce to dynamically create personalized stories that keep students engaged and in the driver seat.”
If a reader would rather use an existing story, that is also an option with a library of texts available.
In addition to the Teams for Education, Reading Coach is built into Immersive Reader, a free tool in Microsoft’s suite of applications including Word, OneNote, Outlook, Teams, Office Lens, and others. It can also be downloaded as a web extension for reading text on the web.
The Immersive Reader simplifies page layouts, removes distractions, streamlines content, and allows you to adjust the text size, spacing, and font. Plus, it helps you focus by highlighting lines as you scroll and it helps with comprehension should you come across an unknown word. You can also choose to translate to another language or have the text read aloud for you.
Ultimately, Immersive Reader is an assistant for anyone with a bit of difficulty reading, including early readers, non-native speakers, visually impaired people, and people with reading disabilities like dyslexia. And it seems only natural that this assistant is equipped with AI via the Reading Coach.
As Microsoft said in a blog, “With the use of AI in an impactful, safe, responsible way, we believe that personalized learning at scale is within reach.”
Images used in part from: Microsoft
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