Liquid mode provides better digital reading experiences for all students
Reading is an integral part of learning, and over the past 30 years technology has dramatically changed the way students read. With liquid mode in the Adobe Acrobat Reader mobile app, it is easier to read digital documents on mobile devices. Liquid Mode uses AI to reformat PDF documents while giving readers the power to adjust font size and spacing to create a personalized reading environment.
Along with researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF), the nonprofit Readability Matters, and Google, Adobe recently launched The Readability Consortium to explore technologies, tests, and tools that will help individuals maximize readability. By helping students discover their best readability parameters, the Consortium aims to make reading a more enjoyable experience for students, improving understanding and learning.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to some pilot programs and research from the world of education that demonstrate some of the potential benefits of using liquid mode to improve readability.
Make a 200-page manual easier to read
The Frederick Community College (FCC) of Maryland offers a diverse range of affordable and flexible learning opportunities for all types of students. Many adult learners benefit from FCC’s Bridge to Careers courses, which combine career training and work-readiness skills with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes to help students thrive in new careers. Students in these courses come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are new immigrants while others have been in the United States for a decade or more. Learners’ communication skills in the four language domains – speaking, listening, reading and writing – vary.
Course instructors sometimes struggle to bridge the varying reading levels within the class to engage all students with critical texts. While designing the program for the Bridge to Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), a course for students wishing to become commercial drivers, ESOL instructor Rachel Riggs thought liquid mode could be a good way to make complex texts more accessible. to adult students.
“I had heard about liquid mode through the EdTech center in Global Education, and it seemed like a nice fit for driving the Bridge to CDL course,” says Riggs. “The Commercial Driver’s License Handbook is a 200-page PDF document. Liquid Mode reformats the textbook to display much more naturally on small smartphone screens, allowing students to study on the go.”
With Liquid Mode, students no longer need to spend time pinching and zooming on their phone and scrolling through the document. Instead, all text flows smoothly. Students can easily change the font size or adjust the spacing, making the document even easier to read with crisp, clear letters. Smart outlines and search functionality help students find relevant sections much faster.
A student described how she studied the textbook on her phone while her husband drove, taking advantage of every free minute of his busy day to advance his studies. Another commented that using liquid mode allowed him to go straight to the section the instructor had assigned to him, making reading on his phone more accessible and less time-consuming.
Now part of World Education as a digital learning specialist, Riggs is excited to promote liquid mode, especially for the diverse population of adult learners. “Programs that work with large numbers of PDF documents will likely find liquid mode very useful,” says Riggs. “In adult education, we see a wide range of skills with culturally, linguistically and academically diverse learners in particular. I am very interested in connecting Adobe with more educators to see how technology can help improve the accessibility and equity for adult learners and educators.”
Explore personal reading settings for ESL students
Jolee Mosher works with learners around the world for her St. Paul Public Schools Speaking and Listening course. The course focuses on self-exploration and bonding for high-level learners who speak English as a second or third language. Rather than using a textbook, Mosher distributes PDF readings, making the course an ideal driver for Liquid Mode.
Students responded positively to Liquid Mode, saying it made readings more accessible. Being able to manipulate not only the font size, but also the spacing between words or lines, made it easier for students to understand the text. And since the students did not speak English as their first language, anything that benefited understanding was appreciated.
Bolat Shaimerfenov, a student in Mosher’s class, praised Liquid Mode for making it easier to read for students like him who are visually impaired. Another student described how the ability to adjust the font reduced the mental load when reading, while a third student said he was excited to use it beyond the classroom.
Student Mohit Kumar used tests from the Virtual Readability Lab (VRL) to find its best reading settings in Liquid Mode. He explains, “I read up to three hours a week on my phone. Liquid mode encouraged me to read more because I didn’t have to struggle. Instead of zooming in, zooming out, scrolling, I just applied my playback settings. and go.”
Mosher plans to continue using Liquid Mode for future classes, but with a greater focus on helping students understand how to find their personal reading settings.
“When we help students improve their readability, we encourage them to be more engaged, which helps them on their learning journey,” says Mosher. “I want to help students understand how they can personalize their reading experience and make reading easier and more accessible on their phone.”
Exploring readability at the university level
Dr. Shelley Rodrigo of the University of Arizona is one of many researchers who have helped formalize the study of readability. University students are ideal test subjects because they usually read a lot, regardless of their field.
In a recent study, Dr. Rodrigo asked graduate students to take the HRV tests and apply the results to liquid mode reading. Many students have reacted positively to Liquid Mode, with one student mentioning that once he changed the font or spacing on his digital documents, it made a difference in reducing eye strain when reading digitally .
While Dr. Rodrigo is still analyzing the data, early results show statistically significant data indicating an inverse correlation between cognitive load and feelings of productivity. In other words, when liquid mode makes reading easier, students feel much more successful.
“Many students were surprised at the impact adjusting the readability settings had on their experience,” says Dr. Rodrigo. “Students generally understand that font size can make a difference, but many students were amazed at how adjusting the spacing made reading even easier, allowing them to read longer at a time. time.”