Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 117 / FEBRUARY 1990 / PAGE 6

PCs, touchscreens, and videodiscs work together in this adult-literacy program.

Leading to Reading

An experimental program helps improve the reading comprehension of adults with only basic reading skills. Through newspaper articles, the program teaches readers how to tie sentences together and grasp the overall meaning of a story.

Displaying articles from the morning edition of the Philadelphia Daily News, the program asks students to relate an action, feeling, thought, or situation to something else in the same paragraph. The voice synthesizer says unfamiliar words or sentences for the students, and the touchscreen lets them use the program without typing.

Developed by an IBM scientist and researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia, the system uses an IBM personal computer, a videodisc, a voice synthesizer, and an IBM InfoWindow touchscreen monitor to display text and video onscreen

Dr. Don Nix, the IBM researcher who created the program, said that comprehending the overall meaning of the separate sentences in an article is a common problem with low-proficiency readers.

"The text appears as a set of disparate sentences. The One Thing Leads to Another program helps the students make inferential connections necessary for reading comprehension," Nix explained.

In addition to the newspaper articles, students can also watch full-length feature films on the computer screen. Written text accompanies the films and explains the onscreen action.