Design Sprint with Academic Audio

What if there was the equivalent of Amazon Audible for academic journals? I’d like to introduce Academic Audio. Their idea to create a service that provides audio versions of journal articles or required reading, with students paid to make the recordings.  Over the summer we ran an online version of the Google Ventures Design Sprint  to support the team through the process and produce a product wireframe and pitch deck so they can seek further support.

Amy Walters,  founder of Academic Audio, describes the product

Academic Audio is a student-led company with an innovative solution to increase the accessibility of higher education. We identified a gap in the market and a lack of support for people with reading difficulties, learning disabilities and visual impairment in higher education. Within higher education, reading of academic articles is commonplace, and often essential for access to a degree course. However, reading complex texts does not come naturally to everyone, especially those with dyslexia and related conditions. Higher education institutions have a requirement to provide support for students with disabilities however, the current provision does not go far enough. As you may be thinking, audio versions of articles and anything you can access on the internet are currently available, however what sets us apart is the use of natural voice in our audio recordings, rather than synthetic speech. We put forward the idea that articles are read aloud by students (who are studying subjects relevant to the article) and therefore the listener can access natural sounding voices, which is said to improve our understanding of the text. This idea is doubly effective as it benefits both the student listening, as they have access to information in a format they can understand, and also the student reading the article, as they are reading relevant texts to their course and they also receive payment for their contribution.

We approached Jisc for their support to get our idea off the ground. They have been immensely supportive and helpful. During the design sprint, they facilitated detailed exploration of our idea, helping us to become thorough in our scrutiny of the idea to create a realistic product that would work for all parties involved.

Following the sprint Amy and her team have developed a web design and pitch deck, they are looking for investment to develop Academic Audio soon. For further information see Academic Audio.

The edtech team at Jisc explore challenges for higher and further education with an aim to develop new digital services and products. We’re always interested to learn more about the challenges and futures needs in education

By Paul Bailey

Head of co-design, part of a research and development team

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