Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Acquiring Content Knowledge with Audisee eBooks with Audio®

Special thanks to Spencer Hanson for the following post!
Lerner Digital has been on the forefront of developing enhanced eBooks with audio and text highlighting for schools and libraries since the launch of Audisee eBooks with Audio® in 2014. Audisee was recently named a 2016 finalist for the Cool Tool Award from Edtech Digest and won both an Academic’s Choice Award and a Tech & Learning Award of Excellence in 2015.

We have been very intentional in the features we offer to assist struggling readers, and emerging research supports our decisions. You can find more information on Audisee including an introductory video at the Lerner Digital website. Here’s a peek into our Audisee whitepaper. The following section is about how enhanced eBooks with audio and text highlighting help students acquire content knowledge despite decoding barriers. Enjoy!

Struggling readers moving into the upper elementary and secondary grades face not only the challenges of decoding but the mounting demands of “mastering high-level content material (Boyle, 2003, p. 203). By the upper grades, students “have developed patterns of interactions with school and, if those patterns are negative, a teacher faces a formidable challenge in reversing them” (Dreher, 2003, p. 51). Wolfson (2008) explains the difficulty in teaching remedial readers:
Teachers in middle and high schools have so many demands on their teaching that there is little time to focus on the numerous literacy skills required for students (. . .) Students need to be able to decode unfamiliar words, comprehend narrative and expository text, understand new vocabulary, prepare various forms of writing, and participate in discussions in each of the content areas. (p. 105)
Decoding barriers stagnant the growth of struggling readers, especially when they are no longer receiving focused reading instruction, and “their participation in speaking or writing is limited by their ability or inability to read” (Wolfson, 2008, p. 106).

Wanzek & Kent (2012) explain how poor decoding skills can become a barrier to learning content, as students transition into the upper grades where learning to read switches to reading to learn:
[I]n addition to expectations that students have adequately mastered the basic reading skills such as decoding accurately and fluently, there are also expectations that students understand word meanings and are able to read text with comprehension (Chall, 1983). The focus on these comprehension skills may be difficult for struggling readers who may still be learning to accurately and fluently decode grade level text. (p. 2)
Enhanced eBooks with audio and highlighting have been successful in serving the needs of struggling readers to acquire grade level content despite their difficulties in decoding, as removing “the restraints of a student’s word recognition and decoding skills provides a very positive approach to focusing on the meaning behind an author’s words” (Wolfson, 2008, p. 107). The use of audio allows these students to access texts that “they are unable to read on their own or that they might not choose for themselves” (Serafini, 2004, p. 4). Barger and Notwell (2013) observed that their fourth grade students using nonfiction eBooks with audio and text highlighting enhancements, especially those struggling to read at grade level, could acquire content knowledge easier:
One of the perks of the read-aloud feature is that it makes academic content accessible for struggling readers. [A student said], “Sometimes I get more information from the book if people read it to me instead of me reading.” Many of these students were aware of their learning styles and how eBooks helped them learn. (. . .) Many readers talked about how they liked how some eBooks would highlight the words while it was reading, helping them to stay on track. (. . .) [One student] believed she could better understand because she could hear words that she could not pronounce. (pp. 35-36)
Audisee eBooks with Audio® provides struggling and reluctant readers with professionally recorded audio narration and sentence highlighting. These features can be set to read the whole book to the student, or the student can turn the support features on and off when they need them.

Lerner Digital offers 190 Audisee eBooks with Audio® titles. Read more about our new title offerings for fall 2016 in this post. With a wide variety of genres including high-interest novels and engaging graphic novels, every reader is sure to find something they’ll enjoy!




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