After some testing took place at a few college and university campuses throughout North Dakota, a new support software option has been made available to all campuses within the university system.
Core Technology Services implemented the roll-out of the Read&Write software to coincide with the start of the Fall 2015 semester for the system’s more than 47,000 students. The $600 literacy and study software has been made available to students for free and it aids reading, writing, studying and researching. Documentation of the software notes that it is perfect for coursework support, helping in writing dissertations and regular student communication. Toolbar features offer services like Text-to-Speech, a picture dictionary, word prediction, digital highlighters and spell checking.
Pam Nielsen, procurement officer for CTS, said the software was available to all departments and campuses, not just for students, but also for faculty and staff. So far, Lake Region State College, North Dakota State University, Minot State University and the University of North Dakota have been the biggest users of the product.
“I believe the most important reason for implementing a software such as Read&Write is to help those student who struggle with reading, writing and comprehension,” Nielsen said. “These are the three most important skills a student needs in college.”
Although Read&Write could be utilized by anyone, it was specifically designed to aid those students who struggled with reading or writing, those with learning disabilities, English-as-a-Second-Language learners, first-generation college students, and adult learners who had to balance full-time jobs and families along with coursework.
Thousands of students have been able to access the software so far, as its cross-platform availability makes it an ideal solution for many needs. Students can use it at their desk, at their laptop, or load the software onto their tablet or phone to listen on-the-go.
According to Nielsen, another reason for implementation was to improve retention rates at the universities.
“A large percentage of these students do not know how or are reluctant to ask for help,” Nielsen said. “This often leads to students struggling and dropping out, which means lower retention and graduation rates.”
The system-wide rollout of the software was prompted to ensure that all students with disabilities were getting the same benefits, no matter what campus they attended. Read&Write literacy software is available for Windows and Mac-based desktop PCs, iPad and Android. Students should contact their local campus help desk to download the software.