Internet search engine delivers content matched to reading ability

Feb. 28, 2014 at 4:25 PM
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've developed in Internet search engine specifically for schools designed to deliver content matched to a student's learning level.

The software created by two University of Alabama in Huntsville professors is being tested as a way to increase reading abilities in challenged students while helping motivate intellectual development in gifted students, the university reported Friday in a release.

It uses a sophisticated algorithm to search websites for content and delivers free, customized and age-appropriate reading materials to a user's computer, they said.

"What we're developing is a way to get through the nonsense and junk online and get to the learning material," education Professor Philip Kovacs said.

The software, dubbed the Complexity Engine, could also save schools money on textbooks, the researchers said, while offering a less regimented, more varied and interest-driven educational model to students.

"The information a student gets is no longer generic, like it is from a textbook," English Professor Ryan Weber, who is helping develop the search engine, said. "The individual students can search for reading material that matches their interests, so they can be more self-motivated readers."

The Complexity Engine is currently in testing with 500 gifted fifth and sixth grade students at a mid-sized regional school system.

"My favorite student compliment we used to get was, 'I love your class because we don't have to work,'" Kovacs said. "Of course everyone was working very hard, but it seemed to them like it wasn't work because they were engaged."

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