Text-to-Speech Technology and the LIVRESQ platform, means of digitizing education



The evolution of technology and the pace at which innovations of this type are being implemented in various fields of activity have been accelerated by the events of the last year, demonstrating once again that digitisation is a vector of transformation, and education is one of the areas where its impact is significant, all the more so as the education system is at the heart of society’s development.

Today, there is increasing talk about integrating and using new teaching methods, e-learning avatars being one of them. Recently implemented in Romania through the Livresq platform developed by local educational software producer Ascendia, digital learning avatars use Microsoft technology and guide students through courses designed by their teachers themselves, bringing a new component to their work.

Livresq is in fact an educational content creation tool, which allows building courses in digital format (without the need for programming, graphics or testing skills). Educational assistants (digital learning avatars) can be integrated into these courses, and the Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology in the Microsoft Azure platform automatically generates their voice (transforms the text in these courses into voice).

Such an avatar will always be generated according to the course in which it is to be integrated and can perform multiple roles, such as: generating questions and feedback; providing hints, highlighting relevant elements/information; generating summaries at the end of each chapter of the respective e-learning course or it can be a navigation tool within that course, etc.

„Teaching and learning methods are constantly evolving, rapidly incorporating technological innovations. The digitisation of the Romanian education system has been accelerated by the pandemic and, in this context, we are trying to provide actors in this sector with innovative tools to facilitate the assimilation of information as efficiently as possible. The text-to-speech services used by the Livresq platform are available in Microsoft Azure in the form of programming interfaces that can be easily integrated into different applications, with the machine learning part (which is difficult and consumes computing resources) being managed entirely by the Azure platform. This way, teachers can create courses that they can then make available to their students and that they can access from anywhere”, says Lucian Ungureanu, Cloud Business Group Lead, Microsoft Romania.

Through Livresq – and by extension through digital learning avatars – teachers can create a classroom-like experience for their students, even if the learning process itself takes place online. Furthermore, the platform has the largest public library of digital resources in the country, which includes over 8,900 interactive lessons created (in total), of which 2,800 are public and offered free of charge by those who built them, making these resources accessible to all students in need of educational materials.

In addition, the platform also has a reporting function, with everything a learner does in a Livresq lesson being passed on to the learning platform (LMS). The reporting function makes it easy for teachers to access useful information on the results and viability of their courses – for example, how many people accessed a particular course and what scores each got, or which courses were accessed and which were not.

Alex Mălureanu, co-founder and CMO of Ascendia: „We have provided and continue to provide teachers with the training they need to develop these lessons in digital format. At the moment we have 17,600 teachers in Romania and the Republic of Moldova creating interactive lessons, which we think is very important, as a few years ago you couldn’t even motivate the existence of an educational platform to learn. Livresq is a tool with which you can create relevant interactivities, you can have characters guiding the learner/student through all the content. With all this in mind, the focus is not just on interactivity, but on the outcomes.”

The Livresq platform is also used by companies to create specific courses according to their needs, which they can then make available to their employees.

Around 100 companies in Romania and abroad are already using Livresq, and they are joined by various NGOs and public institutions, including the Ministry of Education.

Microsoft and Ascendia aim to jointly contribute to bridging the gap faced by communities in Romania, and to facilitate digital transformation in education, thus supporting economic growth, innovation and professional training of students and learners, as well as the development of current employees, thus also contributing to the development of society and the economy.