Online text to speech for education: Q&A with Idaho Digital Learning

idaho-digital-learning-logoIdaho Digital Learning was established as Idaho’s State Virtual School by the Idaho State Legislature in 2002. The program was developed for Idaho students, and is recognized as a leader across the nation in online virtual education. Idaho is a geographically large, rural state and therefore IDLA was created to provide access, equity, and flexibility for students in the state of Idaho. IDLA offers over 180 semester courses to students in grades 7-12. In 2011-2012, IDLA served nearly 18,000 enrollments and is on track to exceed 20,000 this year. In addition to delivering fully online courses, IDLA currently  works with about 40% of Idaho’s districts to provide services to support the implementation of blended learning models.

Mike Caldwell, Director of Program Development, shares some thoughts about online text to speech and ReadSpeaker.

ReadSpeaker (RS): How was the idea born to include TTS in your e-learning content, and in what specific type of content?
Mike Caldwell (MC): We always strive to provide as much differentiation as possible within our course. Having text to speech capabilities is just a good practice and once we heard about ReadSpeaker, it just made sense to add the feature to our courses.

RS: What were the target users you were thinking of in adding text to speech?
MC: Obviously anyone with reading challenges can benefit from this type of technology, but we think all learners can benefit from having choices on how they want information to be delivered to them. We are especially excited for our ELL population and our IEP students that will benefit greatly from this software.

RS: How much effort was involved to add ReadSpeaker to your learning management system?
MC: Implementing ReadSpeaker was quite easy. We wish all software implementations were that easy.