How Technology Is Helping Children Learn To Read

Tech Industry

How can technology transform a child’s reading journey? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Dr. Patricia Scanlon, Engineer & Founder of SoapBox Labs, on Quora:

As studies continue to show that about a third of children in the youngest grades are missing reading benchmarks, voice technology empowers teachers to identify children in need of early intervention on their reading journey. Voice-powered reading tools offer children feedback loops and encouragement to continue practicing, and enable teachers to offer oral reading assessments more regularly and invisibly to students at home or in the classroom.

SoapBox Labs, the company I founded in 2013, builds speech recognition technology that can be integrated into third-party reading apps, tools, and products to create interactive experiences that help children learn to read. When a child reads out loud, our voice engine listens and analyzes what the child has said, and can return real-time feedback to them, their teacher, or their parents.


In a reading fluency assessment, SoapBox’s voice engine can analyze the child’s voice data to generate data points such as words correct per minute (WCPM), repetitions, insertions, substitutions, and hesitations (similar to the errors a teacher captures in a running record). These data points can in turn give teachers better data and insights into where young students need more support on their literacy journeys. Teachers using voice technology are able to instantly assess their students’ reading progress. McGraw Hill, one of the world’s largest education companies, uses our voice technology to automate PreK-12 oral reading assessments, as do companies like Amplify, Imagine Learning, and developer of the widely adopted Lexile® Framework, MetaMetrics®. SoapBox’s voice engine replaces the manual, time-consuming work for teachers of calculating a student’s oral reading measure with an approach that is proven, accurate, invisible to the child, and scalable.

Our white paper “Can speech recognition help children learn to read?” is a great place to start for anyone new to voice technology and its applications in the modern-day reading classroom. I highly recommend you check it out!

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.


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