Taking literacy to a whole new level

It’s not often a project comes along that captures my imagination quite so much as the one I’m about to describe. I’ve recently had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Steve Monosson, Creative Director at Borne Digital, based in New York. Now, Steve’s a nice guy, very talented, makes me laugh and then I asked about the project he’d mentioned in another context.

Stylus screeches across the vinyl, my eyes grow wide and I think “whoah”.

This is not some little creative venture. This is ground breaking stuff taking literacy education to a whole new level. Borne Digital produce books for reading on a tablet. eBooks. But these eBooks are created with multiple layers of content and the level of difficulty adapts to individual learning ability. Kind of like a level-up when you reach a certain stage in the game.

Read MSNBC’s article about this and vote for Borne to get a very important chance to be heard.

We all know how kids thrive in an interactive environment. We all know they’d rather be on the iPad than reading a dowdy old paperback. And quite importantly it is now known that many people with dyslexia are better able to read from eBooks. What Borne have done, are doing, combines all of these factors and more.

Imagine if, when you were learning to read, your books had adapted to meet your ability. Imagine how much less pressured that would have made reading aloud to the teacher. Imagine how rewarding it would have been to see how far you had come in the space of just one book.

Now put yourself in the place of the teacher who, with Borne’s technology, is able to focus more on what matters and less on how to make reading fun and engaging no matter what level individual children are at. Have you breathed a sympathetic sigh of relief yet?

Key quotes from founder Daniel Fountenberry carried in the MSNBC article:

“We want to use technology in ways that empower teachers and that allow all children to reach their full potential.”

“Reading is fundamental to learning, and learning is fundamental to human development. Reading is the basis of all learning, and we all know the impact of not being able to read–what it does to a person’s self-esteem.”

I urge you to read the article if you haven’t already and see what this is all about. And check out the Borne website too.

There are so many benefits to Borne’s work. Most importantly, it changes reading from something children feel they ought to do into something they love to do. That has lifelong positive repercussions. And as if that wasn’t enough, Borne Digital seek to bring reading to the most impoverished areas where it can be of most benefit.

But there are so many potential applications beyond the classroom too, which I’ve no doubt Borne have already anticipated. This is brilliant, potentially world-changing stuff. I can’t help but be 100% behind it and so much hope it finds its way to the UK.

Please vote for Borne to have that all important opportunity and spread the word. Share this blog, share the article, do what you can to make this project the enormous success it deserves to be. If you are, or have contacts that could be, of influence in education, in literacy organisations, in government, in big business that might like to support the project, please let me know and I will pass details on immediately. This is huge. Let’s make it huger!

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About julietmchugh

Fiction writer from the North East of England with a taste for the gruesome and macabre.

2 responses to “Taking literacy to a whole new level”

  1. Kate Gilmore says :

    Hi Juliet. I was a computer dummy, not for the first time, and didn’t pay attention when gmail started classifying my messages so when I finally clicked on “social” there were 50 of them, including your intense and urgent one about Borne Digital. Thus, I fear I am way too late to vote. That said, the idea is very interesting and perhaps as promising as you think, but it does give me a queasy feeling. I would want to know several fundamental things. Who writes the stories in their original, top level of difficulty form? Who then provides the modified, “easier” level and the one down from that and the one down from that? Might it not be more or equally important to change the subject matter of the story–from dogs to cats to the walls of Troy? Learning to read is not just about reading; it’s about what is disclosed when the symbols are decoded.
    If the original story has some literary merit–and really, it must–what about the stripped down version?
    Even without knowing the answers to these questions I can see that the Borne people are serious thinkers on a thorny topic, and all such should be given all the support the rest of us can supply, so I am sorry to be so late, and I thank you for your thoughtful blog.
    Kate

    • julietmchugh says :

      Kate, they are taking traditional tales and producing them at multiple levels which, if the reader proves able to understand by means of a test disguised as a game, they progress to the next level. It’s built around the same sort of keyword structure that determines normal reading assessment but in an undaunting, highly engaging way. It has massive potential and I think anything encouraging children to learn without pressure is a wonderful thing.

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