Immersive Reader working within Virtual Learning Environments

There are many ways that Immersive Reader can be used and LexDis already has stratgies for using this read aloud and text support app on mobile and as a set of immersive reading tools with OneNote on Microsoft 365.

However, recently Ros Walker sent an email to the JISC Assistive technology list about some updates that have occurred. One important point was her note about the app working with virtual learning environments such as Blackboard Ally alternative formats and it is now possible to create in Moodle, an ‘Immersive reader’ option as an alternative format for most files that are added into a Moodle course.

uploaded file with link to Immersive Reader icon
Image thanks to Ros Walker – uploaded file with link to Ally

The student’s view on the Moodle course will allow them to select the A (ally logo) at the end of the title of the file they want as well as being presented with all the accessibility options. The University of Plymouth have provided guidance illustrating how this happens from the staff and student perspective as well as accessibility checks.

Introduction to Ally and Immersive Reader for Moodle

Immersive Reader in Word highlighting part of speech, colour background changes and text style.
Immersive Reader in Word highlighting part of speech, colour background changes and text style.

Ros has also been kind enough to link to her video about Immersive Reader in Word and how she has worked with PDFs to make the outcome a really useful strategy for students looking for different ways to read documents.

“If you haven’t seen the Immersive reader before, it is available in most Microsoft software and opens readings in a new window that is very clean and you can read the text aloud. (The Immersive Reader)”

Thanks to Ros Walker, University of St. Andrews

Dyslexia Awareness Month/Week/Day – Reading and Notetaking Strategies

Across the world Dyslexia awareness is being championed in various ways during October. There is a week in the UK and a month is USA. But when looking around at all the expertise available for students it seemed a good moment to link to ideas around notetaking as this is a subject that we feel is very important for college and university students.

Studies on learning have shown that actively engaging with a topic by listening and then summarising what has been said helps understanding and provides a way of remembering content in the future.

Dominik Lukes has been studying the wider aspects of note taking that include reading and writing in his collection of web pages explained in a recent JISC presentation about Oxford University Reading and writing innovation lab where you can also download the transcript. Below is the Slide Share version of the video slides which allows you to pause and study the various technologies that might help in the process of reading and note taking.

Dominik has also developed a series of web pages including a series of Academic Productivity: Tools and Strategies and a 2022 Dyslexia Awareness Week challenge that included really useful tips

  1. About dyslexia and its immediate impacts on fluent and accurate reading and writing
  2. Structured, undistorted text is dyslexia friendly for everyone
  3. Listening to text reduces the processing overload
  4. Dictating instead of writing can reduce the spelling overhead
  5. Some other things that make reading easier for everyone

But what happens if there is just too much information and it is all rather overwhelming and anxiety creeps in as John Hicks describes in his blog “What Can It Feel Like To Take Notes When Dyslexic?”. John also adds some useful strategies.

bulb, two pencils and a rubber on a piece of paper.

 However, on the whole notetaking applications do not automate the process of synthesising the key points. Machine learning and natural language processing has made it easier for automatic summarisation to occur in recent years and some provide key words, but there is still the need for human intervention!

What is considered a key word by an algorithm may not necessarily be what an individual wants to focus on! Also, what is missed may be rather important! Therefore, evaluating the different summarisation systems would seem to be vital in order for us to improve the systems. We are discovering that this is not easy!

Nevertheless, our aim is to try to make this an automatic process in a way that can show that automatic summarisations with key wording have the potential to be consistent, fluent and relevant. But for now more reading and note taking about the subject is needed!


Lukes, Dominik (2021) Towards a digital reading lab: discovering and learning new affordances. Journal of Academic Development and Education Special Edition (Becoming Well Read). ISSN 2051-3593

G. Salton et al., “Automatic Text Structuring and Sum-marization,” Information Processing & Management,Vol. 33, No. 2, 1997, pp. 193-20

Fabbri, A.R., Kryściński, W., McCann, B., Xiong, C., Socher, R. and Radev, D., 2021. Summeval: Re-evaluating summarization evaluationTransactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics9, pp.391-409.