October is when the reality of being in school drags down the excitement they had felt when starting the fall semester. Students often struggle to keep up the pace with school work and obligations, and finding a school/life balance, especially with reading assignments, writing exercises, and finding the time to study. Often the fear of failure creeps up on them and getting students to enjoy school and stay engaged is a never-ending task. Providing students with built-in text to speech within the school’s LMS is a way many schools are retaining students. Universal Design for Learning means designing online content with various options of engagement. It is part of the immense popularity of the flipped classroom theory. When you provide multiple ways of presenting content, you will reach diverse learning audiences.

Supporting the Bilingual Reader

Those who grow up in bilingual families can often speak multiple languages with ease. That doesn’t always mean they can easily read and write in both languages. When words are viewed, the brain remembers, or memorizes, that word and the sound associated with it. Reading is not just about hearing the words, but also about seeing the words read for the best comprehension. Content that is presented online with text to speech allows for users with a variety of learning needs to better understand the written content. Simple solutions with high quality voices provide the best conditions conducive to literacy. Students who don’t have to go and look for a way to make the confusing text into an audio version are more successful because they are provided with multiple ways of engaging online content. Additional support when composing messages is available in the TextAid LTI for the LMS. Students can write paragraphs and then listen to them for errors even from their mobile phones!

Mobile Users

Students stay connected with school and their classmates with their mobile devices. For some families, the data plan is their only internet connection away from work or school. The tools these students use need to be mobile friendly and very easy to use. With high quality voices and ease of use, along with a mobile-friendly product, students can get the most out of the content posted in the LMS by using the text-to-speech button on their tablet or smartphone. Many teachers say they want to have mobile phones out of the classroom. However, if considered an ally to learning – both inside and outside the classroom – mobile devices can help improve reading comprehension. Do you have a list of vocabulary that students could listen to in order to better understand your material? Simply upload a Word document to the LMS and have students listen to it, or they can download it as an MP3 file and listen on-the-go. All you have to do to improve your course outcomes with text to speech is upload content to the LMS for students to use and then remind them the material is there, along with an explanation about text to speech. Also, sometimes students need to have someone tell them why and how to use the technology, just like you did when you first heard about text-to-speech technology. Everyone expects the technology to be difficult to use, like some technologies are difficult to learn. With ReadSpeaker, listening is easy! Have a student or two struggling in class? Suggest they use text to speech and listen to assignments posted in the LMS. For more information on the Universal Design for Learning concepts, follow this link.

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