Microsoft is launching a new Reading Progress feature to its video meet and collaboration platform Microsoft Teams. The feature will help students improve their reading fluency by allowing them to record themselves reading a passage of text, and offers teachers the ability to assess accuracy rates and mispronunciations among other things.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way of life, and the very definition of what was considered normal until a few years ago, teachers can no longer assess a student’s reading fluency in person. Microsoft’s new feature will help in solving this very issue. The company is said to have accelerated its work on the new Reading Progress feature during the pandemic when it became very difficult for teachers to measure reading fluency remotely. Microsoft has been testing a beta version of the feature with more than 350 teachers since October, and now the company is ready to roll out the feature as a free addition.
The feature will allow teachers to measure the speed, accuracy, and expression of reading. Though the feature is said to bring support for different dialects and accents in the near future, it will start rolling out for a US English audience in the early stages. The feature will also allow teachers to turn off auto-detection, and access the student’s performance manually. This will allow teachers to see a video of a student reading and then assess it manually. Teachers can also adjust the sensitivity of the feature to measure students with speech disorders or dyslexia. The technology is powered by Azure on the backend.
The company is hoping that the new feature can be used to help with reading fluency in special education and adult literacy among others in addition to helping students in elementary schools. Microsoft Teams is now said to have over 145 million daily active users globally. The company has added more than 300 features in Teams over the past year and more than 100 new capabilities in 2021 alone, so far.