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  • Jennifer Vosman

AI as a Tool to Empower Students with Dyslexia: A Game-Changer in Education

About this article:


Participating in society requires reading skills (Iyer et al., 2023). This is why learning to read and write is crucial in the process of becoming a citizen (Iyer et al., 2023). However, reading is neither natural nor innate, it requires the activation of many different brain areas (Hill Learning Center, 2022; Huotilainen, n.d.; Iyer et al, 2023). But what if we have persistent difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling? With the intention to effectively help students with dyslexia individualised lessons are needed (Barua et al., 2022). Nonetheless, teachers often struggle to surmount the challenges with conventional teaching methods (Barua et al., 2022). Artificial intelligence (AI) gives us a glimmer of hope in assisting teachers and students with dyslexia providing real-time feedback and personalized instructions (Iyer et al., 2023). Let’s delve into how AI can revolutionize the education landscape!


Content:


1.      How do we learn to read?

2.      What is dyslexia?

3.      How can AI help students with dyslexia?

4.      Limitations of AI use for students with dyslexia


How do we learn to read?




Learning to read isn’t a walk in the park – it’s a complex cognitive process that requires the connection of the visual and spoken language system (Hill Learning Center, 2022; Huotilainen, n.d.). Reading skills are hard to acquire as is it is not innate to brain; instead, the brain area responsible for reading needs to be built by practice (Huotilainen, n.d; Iyer et al., 2023).


What is dyslexia?




Dyslexia isn’t just about stumbling over words; it’s a multifaceted learning disorder, that impacts various facets of academic life (Zingoni et al., 2021). From struggling with word reading accuracy and fluency, comprehension, memorization, and concepts expositions to grappling with note taking, composing texts, and organizing study activities, dyslexic students face hurdles at every turn (Barua et al., 2022; Iyer et al., 2023; Zingoni et al., 2021).


How can we use AI to help students with dyslexia?




The best practice to help students with dyslexia is individualised lessons (Barua et al., 2022; Zingoni, 2021).  Only personalised models can accurately respond to the student’s profile and support them (Barua et al., 2022; Zingoni, 2021). Usual methods such as one-on-one sessions with tutors or special education teachers are both too time consuming and financially burdensome (Iyer et al., 2023). A lot of the teachers have difficulties meeting the needs of dyslexic students as it requires a lot of time preparing differentiated instructions, ensuring the student understood them and making sure the student is achieving their individual goals (Barua et al., 2022). This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in, a game-changer in education, as it offers an effective and low-cost solution in assisting students with dyslexia (Iyer et al., 2023).

What if I would give you 4 keys to improve learning for students with dyslexia based on Iyler et al. (2023):


1.      Adaptive Learning

AI can be used to investigate the learning progress performance and outcomes of the students and accordingly create individualised lesson plans, exercises, and materials. In this way the AI offers support to the student where required. The AI can detect the strengths and difficulties of the student and in that way continuously adapt the content of the exercises and interventions and guarantee tailored instructions and reinforcement.


2.      Multisensory Instruction

AI can help build up activities with different sensory modalities in order to improve learning for the students and help their learning and comprehension. This can include visual aids, interactive activities incorporating multiple senses and audio files.


3.      Speech Recognition and Feedback

AI can also be used to support students as a speech recognition technology. In this way, AI can support students in their writing process. Specifically, this means that the AI can convert spoken words into written text, thus reducing the frustration and difficulty of the tedious writing process. At the same time, you can ask the AI to provide feedback on pronunciation, intonation, and grammar and promote the student's language skills simultaneously.


4.       Assistive Tools for Reading

To support pupils in reading, AI can be used as a text-to-speech tool. In this case, the AI would convert the written text into spoken words. This function supports the students in reading and enables a better understanding of the text. While the AI reads the text aloud, it should also highlight words as they are spoken. This provides the pupils with audiovisual support, which contributes to better reading comprehension and supports word recognition.


Limitations of AI use for students with dyslexia


While AI has great potential in offering support to students with dyslexia, it’s essential to be careful when using AI. Further research is needed to explore the nuances of AI integration in education, addressing potential biases and ensuring equitable access for all students (Iyer et al., 2023). Furthermore, the use of AI in education will require adequate training and support for teachers, especially in relation with the potential for biases in AI algorithms (Iyer et al., 2023).


Conclusion


AI is on the rise and will play an important role in our lives sooner or later. By embracing AI, we strive towards a more inclusive education, where every student can thrive!


References


Barua, P. D., Vicnesh, J., Gururajan, R., Oh, S. L., Palmer, E., Azizan, M. M., ... & Acharya, U. R. (2022). Artificial intelligence-enabled personalised assistive tools to enhance education of children with neurodevelopmental disorders—a review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(3), 1192.

Hill Learning Center. (2022, 22. September). The Reading Brain | How we Learn to read [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2HHrKpjlYM

Huotilainen, M. (11 March 2024). Dyslexia and the brain – English translation for the video “Lukivaikeus ja aivot”[word]. Moodle. moodle.helsinki.fi

Huotilainen, M. (15 November 2023). Dyslexia in children, video 9 min [video]. Moodle. moodle.helsinki.fi

Huotilainen, M. (n.d.). Languages and Learning video 1-3[vimeo]. Moodle. moodle.helsinki.fi

Iyer, L. S., Chakraborty, T., Reddy, K. N., Jyothish, K., & Krishnaswami, M. (2023). AI-Assisted Models for Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: Revolutionizing Language Learning for Children. In AI-Assisted Special Education for Students With Exceptional Needs (pp. 186-207). IGI Global.

Zingoni, A., Taborri, J., Panetti, V., Bonechi, S., Aparicio-Martínez, P., Pinzi, S., & Calabrò, G. (2021). Investigating issues and needs of dyslexic students at university: Proof of concept of an artificial intelligence and virtual reality-based supporting platform and preliminary results. Applied Sciences, 11(10), 4624.


About the Author


Jennifer Vosman is a student at the University of Helsinki, where she is studying in the Changing Education master's program. During her bachelor's degree in educational science, she gained a wide range of practical experience through numerous internships in preschools, primary schools, and secondary schools. Her passion for education and practice is also reflected in her free time, in which she works as a dedicated farm educator.

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