Posted by: arianeleigh | November 19, 2012

Can Computers Help Us Read?

As Nicholas Carr describes in “The Shallows,” we are becoming distracted, less immersive readers with our increased use of the Internet and technology. So how could spending more time on the computer help improve someone’s reading and verbal skills?

Being the daughter of a speech-language pathologist, I have grown up learning about the computer game Fast ForWord, where children and adults can successfully become stronger readers and proficient speakers. Reading is reliant on the ability to hear sounds and visually recognize letters. Fast ForWord initiates continuous response and stimulation, allowing new pathways to be developed in the brain.

In the chapter “A Thing Like Me,” Carr describes the computer logic puzzle that provided either helpful hints or the bare-bone software to subjects. In the end, subjects who had the bare-bone software were able to solve the puzzle more quickly and with fewer wrong moves than those with the helpful, guiding software.

In Fast ForWord, words will be slowed down and the user’s brain has to learn to close the sound. This tactic sets the brain in motion, but also trains it to process and close. Similar to the bar-bone puzzle software, users learn to plan ahead and plot strategy, rather than aimlessly click until the right answer is shown.

In a world where the use of technology is increasing, is it possible to use technology to help improve our fundamental skills, such as speech and reading?



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