Preliminary Insights on Readability Research for Adult Literacy

Many adults in the US without a high school degree only have access to the Internet through a smartphone. Hence, to increase equity and access, Dr. Jen Vanek and the team at the EdTech Center at World Education are evaluating personalized readability to improve reading outcomes using technologies on mobile devices. World Education is partnering with Adobe to understand how to mitigate challenges faced by smartphone-dependent adult English Language Learners, literacy learners, and those seeking vocational certification in adult education programs. Through their work, they are hoping to surface promising practices and provide feedback to Adobe for future Adobe Reader enhancements.

According to Dr. Vanek, through research and technical assistance, World Ed advances digital equity and increases the reach and impact of education and social impact initiatives. Their work enables adults to leverage technology as learners, workers, and community members in the digital world.

“Our interest is in boosting access and equity through exploring readability on smartphones.”
Jen Vanek, EdTech Center, World Education

Watch Jen’s lightning talk (recorded at the Skoll World Forum) to hear her discuss the fieldwork, including the positive results and challenges. Their results will inform the implementation of personalized readability changes in educational settings and can provide insights to educational technology companies as they deploy new personalized reading features.



About Lightning Learning: These important presentations inspire and inform the readability community as we come together to build solutions that can improve readability for all.

About Dr. Jen Vanek: Jen is Director of Digital Learning and Research, US. Jen leads projects in digital literacy, online learning, English language learning, and adult education. She is co-principal investigator for the 21st Century Learning Ecosystems Opportunity research project, a Walmart funded study to describe characteristics of effective technology-rich and employer-supported adult learning. She also co-leads the Teaching Skills That Matter-SkillBlox Instructional Support Pilot, a design research initiative funded by the Institute for Educational Sciences focused on development of a free online application for curating, organizing, and evaluating open education resources.

About the EdTech Center at World Education: The EdTech Center is creating a world in which every learner and teacher has access and skills to use digital solutions and technology tools. The team helps to identify, design, implement, evaluate, and promote best practices in leveraging technology responsibly to accelerate impact.

Learn more

EdTech Center at World Education video, “Using Adobe Liquid Mode to Improve Readability”:

Early adopters are improving student reading experiences by using Adobe Liquid Mode to improve readability:

Adobe Liquid Mode Announcement:

Install the Adobe Reader tool.