What’s the future of reading?
A student who knows she has trouble reading long words creates an avatar—say an owl—to help her. Then whenever she is reading online, the avatar would appear before every long word. The avatar will help her to figure out long words–three and four syllable words.
The student could skip the avatar if she thinks she knows the word. But if she needs help, she could click on the owl and the owl might segment the word into syllables, making the word easier to deconstruct. “Conversation” might show in a tiny screen as “con-ver-SA-tion.”
If the word does not follow the rules of phonics, the word might be shown as it is pronounced. “Business” might appear as “BIZZ-ness.”
An option for the avatar to pronounce a word might also exist. If a student can figure out “discreet” but not “discretion,” the avatar might pronounce the latter word.
With technology, we have the ability to personalize reading instruction, offering individual help for students. Fast learners could have an avatar which acts as a high speed dictionary and thesaurus, allowing students to read difficult words without a word search. Slower learners’ avatars could offer private tutoring help, allowing students to progress at their own slower pace with no one the wiser. ESL students could get help with pronunciation.
Even older students reading advanced text books could use this help with the avatar segmenting the word, perhaps showing its root, pronouncing it, and defining it. It could refer to previous pages in the book where the word is used the way an index does—all at the click of an avatar.
With Google’s Alexa, some of this technology already exists. If a student is stumped by a word, the student can spell the word and ask how to say it or what it means, and Alexa, after a split-second of “thinking.” would respond.
It’s only a matter of time before this kind of technology will be custom fit to meet individual students’ reading needs.