Thanks to advances in research on human dialogue, learning and AI, Talkamatic will soon launch together with its partner Nature & Kultur a digital reading buddy, a supportive AI tool, which enables students to have individual conversations about texts they read at school. The reading buddy listens, asks questions, answers and supports the student in their reading and creates interest in the content of the text, which leads to reading engagement.
The debate about the importance of children’s reading is very much current. Discussing a text with a knowledgeable teacher who asks both factual and more open-ended questions, and who provides encouragement and support, is a proven effective way to increase student engagement and learning. With the help of AI, a digital tool that gives children additional opportunities to practice oral communication and reading comprehension can become a positive complementary activity. “We are happy that Nature & Kultur has chosen to collaborate with us on digital reading comprehension and learning. We believe that our AI technology connected to the digital reading companion will be able to revolutionize education in many areas, including by increasing children’s reading and learning,” says Staffan Larsson, co-founder at Talkamatic.
Concretely, the reading buddy means that when a student has read a page or a chapter in the textbook, they have the opportunity to wake up the reading buddy, who then asks educational questions about the text. The questions are created by professional educators and, with the help of AI technology, turn into an interactive conversation between the student and the reading partner. “The reading partner asks many different types of questions so that the conversation will be varied and stimulate the student’s curiosity, ability to express themselves in speech, reading ability, thinking and learning. Talkamatic’s AI technology handles things that can happen in human conversations, such as the student perhaps sometimes needing help answering, or the student asking what different words in the text mean,” says Staffan Larsson.
The reading companion will be implemented step by step in Nature & Kultur’s market-leading learning material series ABC-klubben, starting in spring 2024. First up is the reading book The Magic Bullet. “Creating a digital reading companion to our popular reading books in the ABC club is enabling another way to increase students’ reading comprehension and reading ability. By adding oral communication between reader and text, we give students more opportunities to practice their ability to understand and express themselves, says Karin Schubert, editorial and publishing manager at Natur & Kultur.
Talkamatic’s AI technology is based on research from the University of Gothenburg, fully controllable and predictable, yet flexible and able to handle the complexity of natural dialogue. “We have tested the reading buddy together with students and teachers and it has been fun and useful for everyone to think about the possibilities of the reading buddy and how it should be developed in the best way. It feels very good that the reading buddy is now available to all schools and students who need it, now the next stage of the journey towards good reading comprehension begins,” says Josefine Karlsson, subject expert at Talkamatic.