Technology

Microsoft Teams will help students read

Usually we tell you a thousand and one Microsoft Teams features for work. But we must remind you of the great importance this has for students. This time help reading and reading progress. This new feature is intended to help students read more fluently.

How to improve reading ability with Microsoft Teams

The reading process begins with a first recording of a text, from there teachers can advise, point out pronunciation errors and more. This is the starting point for students to work better in this field.

Students often practice reading fluency in front of a teacher, where part of the text is read aloud and the teacher makes corrections based on the reading. Teachers measure speed, accuracy, and expression when reading. Microsoft worked on this process during the pandemic given the difficulty of measuring it remotely.

“With the pandemic, if you think you read fluently, it becomes very difficult … because you can’t be next to the students,” said Mike Tholfsen, product manager at Microsoft Education, in an interview with The Verge. “You might be able to set up Teams calls or Zoom calls, but the vast majority of teachers don’t.”

A Stanford University study indicated how the pandemic affected students’ reading skills, with a worrying 30% drop in mastery in the early years. “When the pandemic hit, we really worked with the head of Microsoft Education and agreed to step up the development,” Tholfsen noted. “This is a feature that we put a lot of effort into.”

Reading Progress now available in the United States

The Redmond giant has tested an alpha version of Reading Progress with more than 350 teachers since October and is now ready for the next school year. The technology, powered by Azure, allows a teacher to adjust sensitivity to detect students with speech impairments or dyslexia.

“We work with our Azure voice services team and have had a very close partnership with them,” says Tholfsen. “If you’ve seen the PowerPoint presentation trainer, behind this technology we find the same way of working.” Microsoft has developed a pronunciation API that basically measures confidence intervals and breaks down words based on a passage of text that a student is asked to read.

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