Free AI-Enabled Reading Tutor by Microsoft Now Available

Microsoft today made Reading Coach, its AI-powered tool that provides learners with personalized reading practice, available at no cost to anyone with a Microsoft account. As of this morning, Reading Coach is accessible on the web in preview — a Windows app is forthcoming. And soon (in late spring), Reading Coach will integrate with learning management systems such as Canva, Microsoft says. Inspired by the success of Reading Progress (evidently), Microsoft launched Reading Coach in 2022 as a part of Teams for Education and Immersive Reader, the company’s cross-platform assistive service for language and reading comprehension. “Reading Coach intrinsically motivates learners to continue advancing their skills in several ways,” Microsoft continues.

Microsoft Makes Reading Coach Available at No Cost

Today, Microsoft has made Reading Coach, its AI-powered tool for personalized reading practice, accessible for free to all users with a Microsoft account. This morning, Reading Coach is available as a preview on the web, with a Windows app on the way. Additionally, in late spring, Reading Coach will be integrated with learning management systems such as Canva.

“It’s common knowledge that reading is essential to a student’s academic success. Studies have shown that fluent readers are four times more likely to graduate high school and obtain better jobs,” Microsoft states in a blog post. “With the latest AI technology, we have the opportunity to provide learners with engaging, transformative, and personalized reading experiences.”

Reading Coach builds on the success of Reading Progress, a plug-in for Teams for Education, which helps educators promote reading fluency in their students. Inspired by Reading Progress, Microsoft launched Reading Coach in 2022 as a part of Teams for Education and Immersive Reader, a cross-platform assistive service for language and reading comprehension.

To use Reading Coach, learners identify the words they struggle with the most, and the tool provides them with personalized support for practice. Depending on the educator’s preferences, the available tools may include text-to-speech, syllable breaking, and picture dictionaries.

After practicing with Reading Coach, educators can view their students’ progress, including which words they practiced, their number of attempts, and which tools they utilized. If desired, educators can also share this information with students.

Recently, Reading Coach received an update in the form of a “choose your own story” feature, powered by Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service. This feature allows learners to create their own narrative adventure with AI-generated content, similar to the story tool on the Amazon Echo Show. Students can select a character, setting, and reading level, and then AI will create a story using their chosen selections and the most challenging words for the student. (Microsoft assures that all story content is moderated and filtered for quality, safety, and age appropriateness.) Reading Coach also offers feedback on pronunciation and awards badges for progress, unlocking new characters and scenes.

For students who do not wish to create their own story, they can choose from curated passages in ReadWorks, a library of resources for reading comprehension.

“Reading Coach motivates learners to continuously improve their reading skills in several ways,” Microsoft adds. “By using AI in a safe, responsible manner, we believe that personalized learning at scale is achievable.”

It is important to note that not all educators share Microsoft’s optimistic perspective on using AI for teaching reading comprehension. Experts say that there is no infallible tool on the market for measuring comprehension, as it involves evaluating a student’s knowledge, vocabulary, and ability to sound out and pronounce words. Additionally, students can unintentionally affect evaluations by pressing the wrong button or becoming disengaged and receiving a low score on a task presented by a tool.

Despite these concerns, teachers still believe that tools like Reading Coach can be beneficial. According to a recent EdWeek Research Center survey, 44% of educators believe that adaptive technology does a better job of accurately assessing a student’s reading level compared to non-adaptive software or pen-and-paper methods.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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