Technology-Assisted Reading: Challenges and Opportunities in a Developing Country

Technology-Assisted Reading: Challenges and Opportunities in a Developing Country

Gerda van Wyk (Reading Zone and University of Johannesburg, South Africa) and Arno Louw (Reading Zone and University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-909-5.ch018


This chapter presents the findings of a comparison between two different computer reading programmes with the aim of compiling a minimum set of requirements for such a programme in a third world educational environment. It further examines the challenges, benefits and limitations of implementing technology assisted reading on a wide scale. The results of this study are used to formulate strategies to best obtain results in reading difficulties. Consequently, reading difficulties are a world- wide problem and therefore require new and innovative ideas to be effectively addressed. Moreover, reading difficulties do not exist in isolation, and should be addressed in small groups with a holistic approach to ensure the best chance of successfully addressing the problem. The facilitator – learner ratio is important to ensure individual attention to learners. The flexibility and adaptability of the software are therefore important aspects during software implementation. When deciding on effective reading software, the applicability of assistive technology as part of an intervention strategy in reading difficulties should be considered as the most important aspect.
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Assistive Technology As A Part Of Reading Interventions

The Landmark College (2006:[online]) proposes a strategy for the initiation of technology assistive reading for learners. These strategies largely impose interventions from stakeholders. These stakeholders mainly include a teacher that provides space for learning, the computer software as well as the reading material (Pearson, Ferdig, Blomeyer and Moran (2005:2). The recommended strategy is:

  • The appropriate learning material must be selected;

  • Learners skim through the text after the purpose and steps of skimming have been explained ;

  • Main topics and sub-topics are highlighted with respective colours, copy and pasted, and read from a new document. However, the author claims that this can only be performed if the related software allows for this function;

  • The content information is then processed by asking the following questions:

    • o

      What is the main idea?

    • o

      What are the sub-topics?

    • o

      What questions will you expect to be answered in the reading?

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