Groundbreaking technology offers new ways to engage students and teach reading skills

News around Campus

Groundbreaking technology offers new ways to engage students and teach reading skills

Published on March 27 2012

Until recently, children learned to read without help from technological devices. Outside the classroom, they engage in a variety of digital technologies ranging from computers, to iPads, to online video games while their classroom counterpart remains, for the most part, anagogic, making it almost impossible for “flatland fiction” books to compete.

It is difficult for teachers and parents to keep children engaged in reading enough for them to develop essential reading skills. Consequently, there is a growing need in elementary classrooms for 21st century approaches to reading. There are currently very few solutions in the market that offer interactive reading software which assesses reading ability and helps develop reading skills.

To fill this gap in research and technology Danielle Beckett, a certified elementary teacher and PhD student in the Faculty of Education, founded GroDigital in collaboration with Brock University. GroDigital is committed to engaging children (ages 5-8) while they learn to read through technologically innovative products guided by educational research.

GroDigital is pleased to announce its first interactive storybook – The Gingerbread Man - for the iPhone and iPad. The book is the first in a series titled the Little Sprouts Reading Series which launches this Spring. The interactive storybooks can be read in three ways:

  • children can have the story read to them in the “Read To Me” mode;
  • they explore on their own in the “Read It Myself” mode;
  • or they can utilize the innovative  “Read Aloud” mode, where they read to the program

The "Read Aloud" mode uses groundbreaking voice recognition technology that understands what a child is reading and provides appropriate feedback. A learning companion guides the child through the story asking questions along the way to make sure the child understands what they are reading, and provides word help when needed. In addition, at the end of each read, a reading report is computed to detail where the child is having difficulty.

The application can be used in classrooms to offer students innovative new ways to learn to read, while providing teachers with data needed to help plan personalized instruction. The program is able to define where students excel and areas in need of improvement for targeted reading instruction. For example, this application denotes phoneme difficulty, word difficulty, and offers a measure of reading comprehension. It also provides a calculation of a student’s reading level according to Ekwall and Shanker’s reading inventory (independent, instructional or frustrational reading level) to better aid in planning reading instruction.

For more information about GroDigital and the Little Sprouts Reading Series visit our official website on or after its launch on March 26th, 2012, our Facebook page ; or contact Danielle Beckett at