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Boosting Student Outcomes in Ohio Classrooms with Audiobook Learning and Assistive Tech

Categories: Assistive Technology, Audiobook Library, Education & Teaching, In the News, Learning Disabilities

As in so many cities across America, the Loveland City School District in Ohio has a prevalent reading problem. To meet the needs of struggling readers, including the one in five students who have dyslexia and other learning disabilities, Loveland is using assistive technology and audiobooks from Learning Ally -- helping these students achieve what otherwise wouldn’t be possible. The story attracted the attention of the ABC-TV affiliate in Cincinnati, WCPO, which broadcast this report: The Cincinatti Enquirer visited to cover the District's use of audibook learning and assistive tech as well. Loveland teachers are able to assign titles from Learning Ally’s accessible library of 80,000 human-narrated audiobooks onto digital “bookshelves” personalized for each student. They also have access to a powerful set of tools for tracking a student’s progress, providing metrics such as which titles are being read and how many pages have been completed. On the other end, students are able to download and independently access their audiobooks on their own computer, smartphone or tablet devices. Since it was introduced into the reading program in Loveland Middle School, use of Learning Ally has expanded into five of six schools across the district, and after only one year, 81 teachers are using the audiobooks with their students. Speech Language Pathologist Susan Mechler, who championed the program in the district, says,“Learning Ally makes students independent. It's user-friendly enough that they can access it themselves. It opens up their world.” Loveland2Audiobook usage has been widely embraced throughout the district by educators, parents and students alike. Language Arts Teacher Rachel Silvey says, “Learning Ally--it's exactly that, an ally. I have seen this program used by so many different students with different struggles, yet it does the same thing for each and every student; it builds their confidence in their reading skills. They're understanding. They're asking questions. They're reading. They're retaining! I love it!” As the graphic below reflects, the Loveland District already has over 350 students using Learning Ally’s audiobooks, with over 3,000 books downloaded. To the delight of teachers and parents, over 200 of those are titles that students added to their bookshelves on their own for pleasure reading. Students and parents are encouraged to download, explore and enjoy books available through Learning Ally at home. As more teachers and students become familiar with the program, administrators anticipate that it will only continue to grow, perhaps even beyond their schools. “I would love to see Learning Ally implemented in other districts,” Mechler says. “It's not a source of frustration like so many other pieces of technology. It's simple and it works.” Loveland3