iRead is a 4-year (2017-2020) project that aims to develop personalised learning technologies to support reading skills. This software combines a diverse set of personalised learning applications and teaching tools for formative assessment. We focus on primary school children across Europe, learning to read and learning english as a foreign language including children with dyslexia who are at risk of exclusion from their education. The project is funded by the EU H2020 and comprises 15 partners from across industry and education in 8 European countries. Our work is organised into three strands: innovation, design and evaluation, with different expected outcomes and stakeholders.

art-1866468_960_720Innovation goal: to fast-track the development  of technology for new industry players in the arena of literacy and language learning

This strand will target SMEs and businesses, social entrepreneurs, publishers, for-profit and non-profit educational providers, and innovation bodies. We will develop an open, scalable, cloud-based software infrastructure, consisting of open interoperable components, which features user modelling and incorporates reading-skills related domain knowledge and resources, to personalize technology for children learning to read. The infrastructure will be trialled through the project via an incubation activity that invites interested parties to work with us to use it. For more information: see industry page.

brainstorm-1076587_960_720Design goal: to design and evaluate the effectiveness of personalised adaptive reading orchestrated by digital teaching tools

This strand will target schools, IT pedagogues, elementary/primary school teachers, language teachers, special education teachers, remedial teachers, parents and researchers. We will create personalised and adaptive literacy games, interactive e-books and a e-Reader app. By sharing the user-model of a student the apps will be able to jointly personalise and advance the student’s reading skills. Additionally, we will develop new text classification metrics for choosing appropriate learning materials for students. Finally, the set of iRead apps will be orchestrated through new teacher tools designed to monitor and support the learning process of reading through the apps.

ipad-girlEvaluation goal: to implement large-scale evaluation pilots to investigate the effectiveness of the iRead technology and promote scalability

This strand will target schools, IT pedagogues, elementary/primary school teachers, language teachers, special education teachers, remedial teachers, parents and researchers. Our pilot sites will comprise mainstream settings, inclusive classrooms, urban and rural schools, special education provision and foreign language schools, each of which respond to different educational problems, conditions and learners. We will design differentiated implementations and understand scalability with regards to when and how the implementation works across different cultural and educational contexts. Additionally, we will have an open pilot that invites schools and other providers to use our tools.

Why literacy

Literacy is a critical foundational skill that shapes educational attainment, integration in social life and future employment opportunities. It is the ability to read and write with understanding that involves a lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from a critical interpretation of written text. Reading development comprises a range of language underpinnings including awareness of speech sounds (phonology), spelling patterns (orthography), word meaning (semantics), grammar (syntax) and patterns of word formation (morphology), that provide a necessary platform for fluency and comprehension. Globally, UNESCO reports that there are almost 800 million people who are illiterate. This is not just a problem for developing countries. In England, for example, 25% of young adults have poor literacy compared with an average of only 9% in the top performing countries in Europe. Illiteracy can result from antecedents such as social opportunity including language and literacy practices at home, efficacy of pedagogical support and the child’s reading difficulties. Within compulsory education, about 1 in 10 children are struggling readers who are unable to master decoding as it is traditionally taught, as a result gradually being left behind in the classroom despite their potential. According to the International Dyslexia Association 74% of 8-year old students who are poor readers will remain so when they reach the age of 14, prompting policy makers to argue for early intervention.