Reading and Writing Innovation Lab

What is it?

As more and more of reading is moving to the digital realm, the Centre for Teaching and Learning has established a reading and writing innovation lab to help us keep track of the impact of the digital transformation on reading and writing.

The purpose of the lab is to:

  • collect and test software and hardware and its various affordances for digital reading and writing
  • enable the academic community to make better decisions about best technologies
  • establish a platform for further research of digital scholarship 
  • provide a wider range of assistive technologies available to all.

Ultimately, we hope that as a result, more students and academics will be able to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to develop the same level of fluency with digital reading and writing as they are used to with paper.

How can you access it?

Book a consultation

You can book an individual or small group consultation session to:

  • try one of these devices hands on at Littlegate House
  • get an online consultation about appropriate device.

Attend a Tools Showcase

Periodically, we will run a showcase in one of Oxford’s libraries. Contact ReadingAndWritingLab@ctl.ox.ac.uk for more information, or sign-up to the Centre for Teaching and Learning mailing list to be kept informed.

What tools can you try?

Hardware

iPad

Both 13in and 10in versions are included for testing of the impact of the screen size on reading certain types of texts – such as non-reflowable PDFs with small font and multiple columns.

Kindle Fire

This tablet from Amazon is included to both offer an Android alternative and to be able to test Amazon services.

Remarkable 2

This e-ink reader is very popular for its pen like experience but is also known for relatively little flexibility when working with large PDFs.

Onyx Boox Reader 13

The large screen factor and the support for Android apps of this e-ink reader were behind the inclusion decision.

Kobo Elipsa

The Kobo is included primarily because it supports public libraries and digital rights management.

C Pen Reader

A scanning pen will be included to demonstrate possibilities of converting printed text into audio or digital highlights.

Styluses and digital pens

Pen input is an important modality for interacting with digital text for many users. Users also have very idiosyncratic preferences. A variety of active and passive styluses will be included.

Wacom Tablet

Even desktop computers benefit from pen input, the entry level Wacom tablet is a good example of this modality.

Surface Studio

The Microsoft Surface Studio will serve for demonstrating both Windows-based touch interfaces as well as Windows based software.

MacBook Air

It is important to include MacOS in consideration given the wide range of popular writing and notetaking apps that are available primarily or exclusively on the Mac.

Software

The list of software selected for the lab is quite long and evolving. It includes both free, paid and subscription apps from multiple categories. Selected categories apps to highlight include:

PDF and eBook Readers

For a rich and meaningful interaction with text, a text reader that takes advantage of the digital affordances while taking into account the reader’s physical needs is important. Some examples of such apps are:

  • Margin Note 3
  • LiquidText

Text to Speech tools

Engaging other modalities is a key advantage of digital text. This functionality can be built in or a key feature of a dedicated reader app. Some examples of tools:

  • VoiceDream Reader on iOS
  • @Voice Aloud on Android
  • Speak Screen feature built into iOS
  • Read Aloud feature built into Microsoft Office and Edge browser

Text accessibility tools

There are a wide variety of tools that help modify text for the reader’s needs. These can be dedicated or built into other tools.

  • Microsoft Immersive Reader built into the Edge Browser and Office applications
  • Instapaper or Pocket are dedicated apps for long form reading of web text
  • TextHelp and Claro Software offer several tools aimed at people with disabilities
  • Adobe Reader mobile apps now offer advanced Reflow capabilities

Note taking apps

Taking notes is an essential part of reading. The hardware devices will have a number of note-taking apps installed to test different needs and modalities. Examples will include:

  • Notability or GoodNotes to demonstrate the potential for pen input
  • Onenote or Evernote to showcase traditional apps
  • Notion or Remnote as an example of interlinked notes
  • Bear or Ulysses for a combination of writing and note taking

Mind Mapping tools

Mind mapping and concept mapping tools proliferate. It is important for users to be able to make informed decisions about them. They will include:

  • XMind as an example of a free desktop app
  • Mindomo as an example of a web-based mind mapping tool
  • WriteMapper as an example of a special purpose mind mapping tool
  • MindView as an example of a traditional mind mapping tool
  • CMap Tools as an example of a concept mapping tool

Writing assistants

Writing assistants of all kinds have become increasingly popular. These range from grammar and style checking tools (such as Grammarly or Sapling), to text prediction (such as Lightkey). There is also an increasing number of tools powered by machine learning models that generate substantial portions of text from basic prompts (for instance Rytr or Linguix.

The lab will give users a chance to try different tools for their needs rather than simply relying on advertising.

FIT - Flexible and Inclusive Teaching

 

Book a consultation


Book an online or in person consultation if you would like to try one of these tools or would like more information.

Book consultation

Contact us


Email ReadingAndWritingLab@ctl.ox.ac.uk, if you are interested in holding a showcase or in a using one of our tools for research.