Supporting learning and engagement with audiobooks

Q&A with Learning Ally
By: | September 2, 2020 | Thought Leadership

How can audiobooks help to support learning in remote and hybrid school environments?
Audiobooks can play a key role in supporting struggling readers in a distance learning environment, provided they are paired with features that aid in absorption and enjoyment of content. With anywhere, anytime access to the largest library of curriculum aligned, human-read audiobooks, including popular fiction, classics and text books, that are paired with highlighted text, the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is an ideal support for remote and hybrid learning environments. Students can read independently with the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution, allowing struggling readers to become engaged and confident learners. It also provides educators and administrators with a suite of reporting tools that allow them to differentiate instruction, keep track of student progress, and, perhaps most importantly, maximize instructional time. Students can access their books on nearly any device. If bandwidth/data is an issue, students can access their previously downloaded books even without the internet, easing the stress on households with shared devices or limited access to the internet.

What are some approaches to overcoming learning loss due to school closures and the summer break, particularly for struggling readers?
Students, especially those who struggle to read, can experience some amount of learning loss during any disruption to instructional time. The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution helps mitigate this learning loss by helping students stay engaged in reading, even while at home. In fact, reading with the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution can actually accelerate learning because it allows struggling readers to access grade level content in a format they can easily absorb, thus bridging the gap between their reading ability and their cognitive capability. Human-read audiobooks with highlighted text build fluency, vocabulary, background knowledge and comprehension; they take the stress out of reading so kids can absorb and retain content; and they allow students to manage homework assignments independently and be prepared and excited to participate in class. For struggling readers, who normally face the challenge of catching up with the curriculum, and with reading itself, the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution can be a game-changer.

How can high-quality audiobooks help increase engagement in struggling readers?
Students who struggle to read often struggle with engagement as well. They may feel embarrassed or insecure, and this tends to manifest in decreased participation, behavioral issues and even a complete disinterest in learning altogether. Reading with the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution takes the struggle out of reading, allowing young students to become engrossed in the content instead of struggling to decode. Once in middle and high school, audiobooks provide a means to ensure struggling readers keep pace and have the same opportunities to learn as their peers. It gives them the ability to work to their cognitive capability which is a huge confidence boost. High quality, human-read audiobooks are crucial, because if the student isn’t engaged, they won’t bother. This goes hand-in-hand with the quality of the audiobook library. Learning Ally’s library of more than 80,000 titles ensures that students of all ages have access to not only curriculum-aligned literature and textbooks, but popular fiction and series as well. The result is something for every student.

Why is it so important for educators to identify reading deficits in students and provide intervention as early as possible?
It’s estimated that more than 10 million American students struggle with reading—about one in five—which is a staggering number. We already know that a student’s inability to read can have a profound impact on his or her academic and emotional development. The result of not intervening at an early age could include financial and social effects as well. In fact, an estimated 41% of students with learning disabilities, including significant reading deficits, fail to graduate from high school; only 35% of adults with low literacy skills are actively employed, and, on average, they will earn significantly less than other adults. The sooner we address it, the more likely we are to stem the tide. Developing a positive relationship with reading and learning at an early age is the most effective step we can take in ensuring they reach their academic potential and have the opportunity to thrive in school and beyond.

What are some key considerations when it comes to teacher professional development in literacy instruction and intervention?
We believe in equipping educators with the tools, resources and professional learning they need to be successful, as well as up-to-date research and the ability to apply it in real world scenarios. Our professional learning approach is evidence-based and continually updated, informed by studies with educators. We employ an Engaged Learning Model to best serve the needs of educators and the students they support, recognizing goals for both near- and long-term positive student outcomes. All our professional learning courses are designed to give educators the opportunity to explore three basic tenets: Learn, Apply and Reflect. This methodology allows us to tailor an instructional plan to the educators’ learning needs and help them immediately apply the learning to get results. Through our catalog of courses, educators learn how to get maximum impact from our solutions and can also dive deep into important content on dyslexia and early literacy.

For more information about the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution, visit www.learningally.org or call 800-221-4792.