The material on this web-site is based on an ESP reading comprehension textbook comprising ten units, each of which offers a number of specialised words and reading passages to acquaint students of Computer Sciences with essential vocabulary, structures, and texts of the field in order to make them fit for the market or higher education. In designing this website, the first five lessons of the book have been used as the pilot. The other five units will be added to the contents of the website as soon as visitors’ (normally students and teachers, as well as interested individuals) comments are received. This way has been considered useful since the strengths and weaknesses could be realised, taken into account, and put in action for the rest of the feat.
The website has been mainly designed for the third grade Iranian technical high schools students of the Computer Sciences. However, university students majoring Computer Sciences and also those who are interested in the field, the English language, or reading online can enjoy it.
As Gündüz (2005) puts forward, computers can be beneficial in developing reading skills in three main ways: Incidental reading for reading activity completion; Reading comprehension for understanding texts through question and answer; and text manipulation requiring readers to scrutinise the text’s content and structure. In the same line, since they provide open access to authentic language resources on the Internet, online reading activities have shown to be favourable in second language acquisition (Levy and Stockwell 2013). Reading speed, as Gerjets et al. (2004) argued, could also be increased by effectively designing hypertext-based instructions.
According to Torut (2000) learners will work eagerly on a computer rather than in a textbook as CALL can provide immediate responsiveness and feedback. Therefore, the main reason for designing this website was to provide the students with the opportunity to get instant feedback on the activities. The other purpose was to give the students the chance of listening to texts while reading i.e., “having a student read along silently as the same material is read aloud” (Winn et al. 2006:198) since it has been proven to increase secondary students’ reading comprehension (McDaniel et al. 2001). Furthermore, students can access this online book anywhere anytime they wish whether on their PCs, laptops, tablets, or on their smart phones. On the other hand, since Al-Shehri and Gitsaki (2010) found that the participants in their study who had access to an online dictionary outperformed those without a dictionary while reading, the other aim was to make students able to use an online dictionary.
The materials used in the website are based on activities which check students’ understanding of the main concepts of some reading passages and words used in them, mainly in the form of matching, true/false, fill-in-the-blanks, multiple-choice questions, and cloze tests. Regarding Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive levels (Forehand 2010), the activities mostly tend to evaluate ‘knowledge’, ‘comprehension’, and ‘application’ which are the lowest three cognitive levels and the highest three ones i.e. ‘analysis’, ‘synthesis’, and ‘evaluation’ have not been taken into consideration in the original textbook. Every unit constitutes four parts: warm-up, reading comprehension, language focus, and quiz.