An independent all-boys school located in Surrey, England, More House School provides special needs students with an opportunity to succeed and thrive. Many arrive at the 80-year-old institution with low self-confidence, often due to struggles they faced in traditional educational institutions caused by learning and language difficulties.
For More House Librarian Lucy Marshall, this means building a collection that meets the individual learning needs of the school’s 470 students, who range in age from 8-18. Not all students would best be served by ebooks, and finding a digital content provider that provided additional formats was paramount.
“Audio (books) and Read-Alongs were our main focus,” Marshall said. Read-Alongs are high-quality narrated ebooks featuring professional narrators. Students can follow along with the story as it is read to them, with some Read-Alongs highlighting the text as the narrator reads.
Marshall looked at three different platforms, but it was OverDrive Education’s extensive collection of audiobook titles that proved to be the deciding factor.
DIGITAL LIBRARY ADDRESSES LEARNING CHALLENGES
More House’s OverDrive digital library offers reading and learning support to meet every student where they are, with resources they need. Sora, OverDrive’s student reading app, provides students with tools for success:
- 24/7 access: Promotes greater equity and offers expanded voice and choice for students
- Personalisation: Supports all reading levels, offers multiple formats, provides recommendations based on interest and reading history, as well as practical learning tools like dyslexic font, a dictionary with translation and enlarged text
- Audiobooks: Provide a different sensory experience, a reading solution that students with visual, language and processing challenges can all enjoy
It was also important that More House provide students with something they can use independently.
“OverDrive has certainly met our expectations in terms of the visual ease of use of the platform for the end-user,” Marshall said.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT INCREASES ENGAGEMENT
Marshall uses several avenues to promote the service to her students. There are two large interactive screens in the library, and Sora reading app is showcased on one of the screens every day. As the summer holiday approaches, English classes have been coming to the library, and Marshall has been using those sessions to show the students how to access the collection and highlight recently added stock. Students will also be given reading lists for the summer that utilise an ebook or audiobook icon to let them know which resources are available online.
In the future, Marshall plans to do more curation and feature titles and specific genres on their digital library website. These curated lists can then be shared on social media such as Twitter and Instagram – just another way More House can engage with students.
Since introducing OverDrive, Marshall has found that More House parents are extremely supportive of the digital collection. She knows that parents can easily become overwhelmed by all the information that comes from their child’s school, but, she adds, “the parents association is very keen to support us financially to increase stock, mainly audio.” Having the full support of the parents not only means Marshall has the opportunity to add more titles to her digital collection, it also increases the likelihood the parents will be equally invested in making sure their sons remember to take advantage of the service.
HOW OVERDRIVE SUPPORTS THE SCHOOL STAFF
The More House library staff is comprised of Marshall and a colleague, and they trained themselves with the help of their OverDrive Account Manager. When they first began shopping, they were faced with challenges finding Hi-Lo (high interest, low reading level) books that would be appropriate and accessible for More House students.
“OverDrive was great in helping us find suitable content,” Marshall said.
Even after the school’s digital collection was launched, the team is still always there to assist if issues arise, which, according to Marshall, is just another thing that sets OverDrive apart.
“Customer service from our Account Manager and team is excellent,” she said. “I have worked with many ‘database’-based companies in the past, and this is personal, direct and efficient. Unlike anything I’ve seen before.”