Virtual Academy Focuses Teachers on Reading Interventions


Scientific Learning has launched a new online teacher professional development service called Virtual Academy. The service provides Web-based training to instructors who use the company's Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant reading intervention programs.

Fast ForWord is a family of research-based, standards-aligned digital learning tools designed to develop cognitive skills to improve reading comprehension. It's targeted toward students who are characterized as struggling learners.

Reading Assistant is a line of intervention tools that provides a one to one, guided oral reading program that uses speech recognition technology to improve fluency and vocabulary. With Reading Assistant, students read e-books into a computer using a headset and microphone. The software, which incorporates speech recognition, listens to the students and corrects mistakes on the part of the readers and speaks the word. It also makes records of sessions for review by teachers later, and it provides definitions for individual words when requested by the student.

Virtual Academy is designed to provide low-cost training to smaller districts or to districts that only need to train a small number of teachers on the use of Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant. There are currently three courses being offered through the program:

  • Getting Started with Fast ForWord Products, which provides an introduction to the tools and some best practices for implementation;
  • The First 6 Weeks: Getting the Most from Fast ForWord Software, which covers lab practice, report generation, and other more advanced topics in a weekly course format; and
  • Getting Started with Reading Assistant, a four-session series introducing Reading Assistant and sharing best practices.

All of the courses are designed for self-paced learning. Getting Started with Reading Assistant is currently free for all Reading Assistant customers.

Further information about Virtual Academy can be found on Scientific Learning's resources page here.

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About the author:David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at [email protected].

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at [email protected].

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .