Canvas and Microsoft Education Team Up To Offer Immersive Reader To 8 Million Teachers And Students

Immersive Reader

In this episode of the TeacherCast Podcast, Jeff welcomes VP of K-12 Strategy, Hillary Scharton and Principal Product Manager for Microsoft Education, Mike Tholfsen on the show to discuss how the Immersive Reader can now be used to help millions of students using the Canvas Learning Management System.

“Reading is foundational to learning, and through this partnership Instructure and Microsoft will help more students of all abilities learn,” said Tara Gunther, VP of partnerships at Instructure. “Accessibility is a top priority for Instructure and we are committed to ensuring our customers have tools that support all levels of learning. Immersive Reader will allow text-to-speech and make text more consumable inside Canvas by offering it in different sizes and colors.”

Immersive Reader demonstrably improves reading comprehension through tools that read text out loud, break it into syllables, and increase spacing between lines and letters. It offers text decoding solutions for students with learning differences such as dyslexia. The learning tool encourages independent reading and provides a teaching aid that helps teachers support students with learning differences.

“Literacy is the foundation of all learning. As students, we go from learning to read in elementary school to reading to learn throughout our lives,” said Mike Tholfsen, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft who helped create the product in the company's Hackathon in 2015. “Canvas users will be empowered by this tool, which unlocks the potential of all learners.”

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why is the Immersive Reader so important not just to K12 but to PreK-20?
  • How can teachers activate Immersive Reader in Canvas?
  • How can Immersive Reader help students of all ages with their reading comprehension?
  • Translations, Translations, Translations!
  • How technology is helping children in reading
  • Advancement with Immersive Reader and making it more accessible
  • What tools are available to parents and teachers to help with reading
  • What does a digital learning environment look like?
  • The importance of defining success in today's digital learning environments

About our Guests:

Hilary Scharton – VP, K-12 STRATEGY

Hilary Scharton loves education and has worked in it, in some form or another, for her entire career. As VP of K-12 Strategy for Instructure, she sets the strategic vision for how Canvas makes its products even more awesome for students and teachers across the globe while focusing on leveraging technology to support improved instruction and equitable access for all students.

Prior to joining Instructure in 2012, Hilary served as a psychologist for Utah school districts, spending her time focused on RtI and PBIS for schools and classrooms as well as Special Ed assessment. Before that, she worked in higher ed teaching classes in psychology, education, and English at Utah State and Illinois State Universities.

Mike Tholfsen – Principal Product Manager: Microsoft Education

Mike Tholfsen is a Principal Product Manager on the Microsoft Education team focusing on Inclusive Classroom, Learning Tools and OneNote Class/Staff Notebooks.  He is passionate about education and has been regularly working with students and teachers around the world over the past ten years to create products that improve student outcomes.

About Instructure

Instructure (NYSE: INST) helps people grow from the first day of school to the last day of work. More than 30 million people use the Canvas Learning Management Platform for schools and the Bridge Employee Development Platform for businesses. More information at

About Microsoft Education

Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, that develops, manufactures, licenses supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers and services. Its best-known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, Microsoft Office office suite, and Internet Explorer web browser. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox game consoles and the Microsoft Surface tablet lineup. It is the world's largest software maker measured by revenues. It is also one of the world's most valuable companies.

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