The majority of us, students and faculty alike, are engaging in online learning for the first time this semester. This shift has required faculty to adapt how they deliver content, but it has also required our students to adapt how they are learning and engaging with the content as well. One aspect of online learning that changes the student experience is how much they have to read. In an online environment, students are expected to not only read their textbooks and course materials, but also have to engage with directions, assignments, and additional content that is delivered digitally. The need to read is real, and the ability to read and comprehend effectively and efficiently directly impacts our students’ ability to persist, learn, and be successful.
And so, I introduce you to Kurzweil 3000. In its simplest form, Kurzweil is a text-to-speech technology that reads digital textbooks, Canvas pages, and websites aloud, enabling students to listen and follow along with the reading. However, Kurzweil is not only a reader but also provides support for students by integrating reading, writing and study skills and providing support with vocabulary, note taking, and test taking skills.
Traditionally, Kurzweil has been used as a Disability Resource Services (DRS) support for students as an accommodation. However, in an effort to support ALL students in this new learning environment, the District has made Kurzweill available (and FREE!) for ALL registered MCCCD students — because every learner deserves the opportunity to develop literacy skills that lead to academic and personal success. That said, Kurzweil is not just for students who might struggle with digital literacy; this technology can help ALL students by reducing their cognitive load and enabling them to more easily engage with the reading and content in their courses.
Of course, our students cannot benefit from this free technology and support if they do not know about it. This is where YOU — our dedicated faculty — can help to inform students about this free access to Kurzweil and maximize its usage along with our students’ potential to succeed. Please refer to this additional information for links that you can share with your students about Kurzweil. Or, visit the CTLE Event Registration page and sign up for our faculty information session, “Using Kurzweil to Unlock Student Potential”, on 11/12/20 to learn more.