Software Instructional Support Review: Virtual Direct Instruction for Students With Dyslexia

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Volume 9, Issue 1
April 2019

By Posie Boggs

We love technology because it can support students with dyslexia by providing a number of accommodations. Some are reviewed well here and here and here. However, did you know there are some online virtual websites that purport to deliver direct reading and spelling instruction to students with dyslexia? Apparently, there are. The first time I heard about software to deliver direct instruction to students with dyslexia I was very skeptical and worried about the abundance of snake oil treatments that promised parents the moon, the sun, and the sky for their students. According to Reuters Editorial News, the global e-learning market is expected to reach $275 billion from 2015 to 2022 if there is a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% during this period. That is a huge incentive for companies to produce unproven technologies that may or may not help students with dyslexia with the potential to waste families’ limited budgets, time and logistics, and precious family resources.

But, as a person who loves technology, I can dream can’t I? I can dream about a software program or virtual online delivery system that will save me from reliving over and over an inadequate response that I gave to a parent at my first public advocacy experience.  

In early 2000, I got up the courage to sign up as an exhibitor at the Alaska Statewide Special Education Conference representing Alaska IDA; little did I know I was in for a traumatizing experience. Simply, I had nothing whatsoever to offer parents who were located in remote, off-road communities in Alaska. Burned into my memory forever is the tearful face of one particular dad from Hoonah, Alaska who came to my table asking for help. This was shortly after the 1999 Columbine, Colorado school shooting.

This father was seeking help for his 16-year-old son. Before I could say anything, tears started flowing down his face and he brokenly told me how frustrated his bright and competent son was because he was unable to read. The dad shared with me that his son was so angry that he thought his son might massacre his whole community. Sadly, I was at a loss. There was no one in Hoonah for this dad to turn to. I had absolutely no resources to give him. I was devastated when he turned and walked away empty-handed. 

Thinking about all the other remote communities in Alaska, I began hunting for any technology I could find that delivered reading instruction over the Internet or via DVD. Today there are myriad options, and more are coming online everyday. I can now give parents a list of tools to try. But it is a different problem now: There are so many! There are different skill focuses, styles, age-level targets, and reward systems. As a result, Dyslexia Connection is publishing a series of reviews over the next few newsletters. Reviews reflect the opinions of authors, not IDA.

I am going to kick this series off by reviewing MindPlay, because I have the most experience with it in my practice and community.

We invite you, our readers, to offer your reviews too. Please send them to, with “Dyslexia Connection Technology Review” in the subject line.

Please click on the image below to view the full MindPlay review.











Posie Boggs is an active advocate for educating students, parents, educators, and policy makers on the necessity of improving literacy in our nation and the world. She has emphasized that providing comprehensive research-based literacy education early to all our students and adults who struggle with literacy is essential to increasing our nation’s educational outcomes. Equally important is providing educators extensive, rigorous, and multidisciplinary training in the knowledge and practice of teaching the “3 Rs.” As founding president of the Alaska Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, she uses every opportunity available to communicate that research about dyslexia provides a critical base of knowledge that contributes to all aspects of literacy acquisition and instruction. Ms. Boggs has a Master’s in Educational Diagnostics and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. She haunts the Institute of Education Science and the What Works Clearing House to keep her knowledge on the cutting edge of literacy science. She has received training in and utilizes the following scientifically evidenced methods for teaching literacy and reading: The RAVE-O™ program, Lindamood-Bell™ programs, including On Cloud Nine Math©, LIPS©, Visualizing Verbalizing©, Seeing Stars©, LAC3 Test©, Slingerland™ – Level 1, & 2 and the Writing Institute™.

Copyright © 2019 International Dyslexia Association (IDA). IDA is pleased to present a forum for information to benefit its constituents.
 It is IDA’s policy to not recommend or endorse any specific program, product, institution, company, or instructional material, noting that there are a number of such that present the critical components of instruction as defined by IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. Any program, product, institution, company, or instructional material carrying the IDA Recognized seal meets the IDA Standards. Opinions expressed in Dyslexia Connection articles and/or via links do not necessarily reflect those of IDA.

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