The evolution of digital learning, the use of e-books and audiobooks in schools

As one of the leading e-book providers to the school industry, OverDrive Education has sought to understand the digital shift and how schools are using e-books and digital audiobooks in the classroom, libraries and at home. . OverDrive Education looked at data from its network of 46,000 K-12 partner schools around the world, comparing March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 to the previous year. This report summarizes these findings and also includes case studies from a range of districts.

Data analysis and conclusions

Significant increase in the number of schools using e-books and audiobooks

As of April 2021, 48,700 schools are partnering with OverDrive Education for their digital reading services, a 108% year-over-year increase. This means that the number of students with access to the company’s Sora student reading app and their school or district’s digital collection has also increased significantly (to 23 million, + 93%).

Students read more during the pandemic

Also noteworthy is the increase in student reading, as evidenced by secure aggregate data from the use of the Sora app. This includes the growth of open digital books (+ 228%), the average number of hours spent reading by students (+ 25%), the average number of hours spent reading per book (+ 21%) and the average number of hours spent per session (+ 88%).

During this pandemic period, digital books borrowed by or assigned to students from their school’s digital collection increased by 139%. E-book usage (measured as “checks”) increased 155%, while audiobook purchases increased 66%.

Students use public libraries through the school app to broaden their reading choices

In addition to the school’s collection crates, students borrowed 3 million additional ebooks and audiobooks from their local public library through the Sora app (+ 516%). More than ever, school-library partnerships – known as Public Library CONNECT – have allowed students to use their academic credentials to borrow e-books and audiobooks from both their school and the local public library. via Sora.

Using the eBook in Curriculum Spurts

Before the pandemic, the use of digital books as part of the curriculum was still gaining ground. Today, the use of digital books to support the curriculum has grown exponentially, contributing to the overall growth of student reading, as publishers expand digital rights to align with needs of schools and educators realize the convenience of digital access. The most significant e-book access model over the past year was on-demand course package rental, which allows one title to be deployed to many students at a time, with a period of access typical 90 days. This access model has contributed to a 4,500% increase in digital title assignments for required reading.

Most high-quality degree programs require trade book titles for specific units and levels, such as The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan for Grade 11. Throughout the pandemic and before, OverDrive Education teams have worked with publishers to identify required program titles and overcome challenges associated with rights, permissions, and digital production issues. The result is that Sora can now deliver more business books required in the Class Set model than ever before. For example, in March 2021, Sora had 93% of the required readings for the second edition of Kindergarten to 8th edition of EL Education that are available digitally, an increase from 75% in August 2020. The increased availability required digital business books is of interest to any district that uses high quality educational materials. The digital course sets in Sora can be made available to thousands of students in just a few hours.

Case studies

Class Set Rentals increases program flexibility at Cypress Bay High School (FL)

For Shawn Maas, library media specialist at Cypress Bay High School, finding ways to keep his student body highly social and inclusive – comprising over 4,800 students – connected throughout distance and hybrid learning has been a challenge. But having tools like the Sora app helped make the physical separation a bit easier, as it describes their digital collection as “pandemic ready.”

“Sora allowed us to make sure our students had access to the materials,” he said.

In order to create as much continuity and normalcy as possible, Maas used Sora for activities like virtual book clubs and reading and payment challenges to keep students engaged.

In addition, Maas found that Sora has also become a key tool for classroom instruction, noting an increase in the use of classroom kit rentals – which cater for temporary and bulky reading needs – to deliver the readings. compulsory for students.

“It’s one of the things I absolutely love about Sora. I don’t have to pay US $ 30 (£ 21.69) for the book, I can just get this US $ 5 (£ 3.61) copy and the kids have it for three months, and when they have finished, they can take it out, ”he said.

In particular, Maas notes that although classics like Kill a mockingbird remain popular, the use of rental class sets has also given teachers the opportunity to experiment with new, more diverse program titles.

Digital Books Address Program Needs and Learning Loss in Elmbrook Schools (WI)

In Elmbrook Schools, where Kay Koepsel-Benning is director of library services, the introduction of digital books before the pandemic has simplified the process of providing English and other required reading to students. Use of ebooks and audiobooks – especially rental of classroom sets – for classroom reading in the Sora app, book clubs and grade level readings increased during distance learning and hybrid.

This is a trend Koepsel-Benning hopes to continue even as students return to full-time in-person teaching, noting the ease of use and speed of accessing documents through Sora.

“I think that will stay in place in the future for some of our study programs,” she said.

Additionally, Sora has played an important role as Elmbrook diversifies its collection. Recently, the district launched a “Books for All” project, providing a core set of books for every class and grade level across the district with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. To increase this collection and support virtual learners, the district has also made sure to keep the digital book collections at Sora.

One of the ways Elmbrook hopes to capitalize on Sora is to help fill learning gaps related to the pandemic and support struggling readers, using tools such as e-books and audiobooks at strong. Interest and reading data tracking (including time spent reading) to keep students engaged and accountable.

Virtual book club boosts recreational reading at Stratford, CA school

At Stratford School, an independent private school with 1,200 middle school students across eight campuses, educators knew they needed to find new ways to keep kids interested in reading as they transitioned to distance learning in 2020. Looking for ways to use Sora to facilitate this, Director of Library Services Keira Pride sat down with her OverDrive Education team for ideas and learned that Harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone was temporarily available as a concurrent use title in the app, meaning an unlimited number of students could borrow it at one time, without waiting.

As a result, Stratford launched a school-wide Harry Potter virtual book club.

“The club was an instant success! said Pride.

Initially, Stratford planned to host the club just over Spring Break. That week, educators saw nearly 200 students in Grades 4-8 meet each day on Zoom to discuss books, recap chapters, make crafts, and connect with each other as they took shelter at home. The club was so successful that Stratford brought it back after spring break, with students meeting virtually twice a week for an hour to complete activities and participate in discussions and challenges. The club provided a fun way for students to socialize safely with their peers and allowed them to read at the same time.

The results of Stratford’s efforts to maintain student engagement have spiked overall recreational reading. In the eight weeks after the lockdown began, students viewed more than 8,373 books and spent 7,221 hours inside those books.

“Thank you, Sora, for being our partner and for inspiring the joy of reading in Stratford students,” added Pride.

Learn more about OverDrive Education and Sora


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