Tools to support students where they learn & work online
With the move to distance learning, students are interacting with increased amounts of content online. This move comes with new challenges and adjustments to the way all students are completing their semester.
Texthelp’s Read&Write toolbar provides access for students within the digital locations commonly used to host and teach online. These resources are key for many students to continue their learning and finish their term successfully.
Update: The good news is that an integration with Respondus LockDown Browser is now available! This allows students to have access to Read&Write while taking exams. While some Read&Write features may not be exam-friendly, like an online dictionary that opens in your web browser, this new Read&Write “lockdown mode” allows access only to approved features such as text to speech, in order to maintain the integrity of the test itself.
For almost 1000 years, colleges and universities' primary method of teaching has been in-person classes. From the days of the first university in Bologna, Italy in 1088, followed by Oxford shortly after, the majority of classes have been held in person. Then, overnight colleges and universities across the world shut their doors and moved classes online.
A variety of platforms and technologies have shepherded us into this transformation, with Learning Management Systems becoming a central tool for each institution. With much of the work students are doing integrated into these platforms, faculty and educators are using these to collate information, assess students, and provide the vehicle for discussion.
The support needs of students aren’t tied to single places online, rather their need for support transcends to all the places faculty are expecting students to interact with content. With Read&Write, students can use these tools where they encounter content online to provide the access & support required for learning to continue successfully.
Learning Management Systems
Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard and Canvas include a variety of content to teach and assess student learning. The Read&Write toolbar works within these systems by reading content aloud to students within course modules, instructions, quizzes, tests, assessments, or other places where text is visible.
Writing supports such as Talk&Type (Dictation), CheckIt (Grammar/Spell Checker), and Prediction are available for students producing written content within the platform. Acting not only as an accessibility tool but helping to support all students to assess and proof their own assignments and ensure their progress during the term is not interrupted without the usual in person classes.
Testing and exams
For students who rely on a peer reader or writer/scribe proctor for exams, Read&Write provides the tools they need to take exams from their own home. This removes the stress of trying to coordinate remote, proctored exams with a student peer or support staff member. Students can instead independently sit their exams with the toolbar they are familiar with and confident in using.
Faculty and administrators concerned about test integrity and security have begun to adopt the use of secure online testing systems and programs at schools across the country at rapid rates.
One of the most popular choices is Respondus LockDown Browser. While these programs help to prevent cheating by “locking down” the student’s device to only allow access to their test or exam, many of them also limit access to critical assistive technology tools that students rely on, including Read&Write.
The good news is that an integration with Respondus LockDown Browser is now available which allows students to have access to Read&Write while taking exams. While some Read&Write features may not be exam-friendly, like an online dictionary that opens in your web browser, this new Read&Write “lockdown mode” allows access only to approved features such as text to speech, in order to maintain the integrity of the test itself.
PDF and ePub readers
Beyond LMSs, PDFs and ePubs are synonymous with college coursework. Read&Write provides students the tools to read and interact with these traditionally inaccessible content types.
The PDF Reader provides students with the ability to hear textbooks and course readings, read aloud. Along with additional tools such as the dictionary and highlighters providing avenues for increased comprehension and independent study support.
Much of these same benefits are also available within the redesigned ePub Reader released in March 2020. With more publishers providing ePubs to students and campuses, having access to a tool that integrates seamlessly with these files is essential. With the Scan tool in Read&Write for Windows and Read&Write for Mac, students can take imaged PDF files and make them readable within seconds, providing all students with access to engage with this content.
Websites and online content
Outside of the Learning Management Systems, textbooks or document readings, students might be completing projects, research, or papers by interacting with websites and other online content.
The Read&Write toolbar “floats” within the Chrome browser, giving students access to the toolbar they are familiar with. Text-to-speech can be used to read websites aloud while the highlighters can be used for research purposes. Helping students collate & organize important information and easily pull into a report or essay for future reference. While, the Screen Masking tool helps students adjust to this increased time spent online by easing eye strain and screen fatigue.
Keeping students learning
To help universities and colleges, two webinars focusing on supporting students on a college campus were recently released. Both explore the support tools discussed above, and provide the opportunity to see these tools in action. To help you better support students who may be reaching out in the coming weeks.
The first, Navigating the Changing Waters webinar, is solution focused and details how to support students with Read&Write. The second, Supporting Higher Ed Students in an Online Learning Environment, directly addresses supporting higher education students with the move to online learning.
With a domain or unlimited license of Read&Write, every student across an institution can get access in all of these learning environments and any others that faculty may have students work within. Providing support helps students finish their semester strong and continue to move through their educational journey, including when the doors open again on campus.
Check out our webinars above to find out how to best use these tools to support your students no matter where they're learning and engaging with content online.