Digital Content and Discoverability: a Teacher’s Dilemma
By: Sydney Kalnay, M.Ed., MFA and an OverDrive Training Specialist.
*This post is the first in a series around the topic of using digital content as a classroom tool, both as a way to further engage students and to make the lives of teachers and school librarians even easier.*
The push to include digital content in the classroom is a common topic of discussion. What’s changed in recent years, however, is a shift from asking, “Why?” to asking, “How?” As more and more classrooms are outfitted with laptops, tablets, or other devices, many teachers are incorporating curricular content that matches the technology.
If a classroom model has been analog for years, however, the switch can seem daunting. On top of the learning curve that may be associated with using the physical technology, teachers must also brainstorm ways to include more ephemeral technology like eBooks and audiobooks.
So, where to start? We say: at the beginning!
One of the greatest difficulties in engaging students with your digital content is discoverability – students can’t borrow content if they don’t know it exists! And if you are already using eBooks and audiobooks in your classroom efforts, your students may not realize that your school digital library contains pleasure reading titles as well. The question now becomes: how can you make titles more visible to students without a physical book jacket to catch their eye?
Here are some suggestions of ways to get the word out about your OverDrive digital library service:
One great way to spread the word is by adding a message on the cover of a physical title to let your students know it is available in eBook format. We offer printable 2×2 stickers with this message that are also customizable to feature the URL of your school digital library. These and other marketing and outreach materials are located on the Print-Ready Materials section of our newly re-launched Resource Center.
Model use in the classroom
If your students see you using eBooks and audiobooks in and out of the classroom, they’ll not only recognize that digital titles are available, they’ll see borrowing those titles as a viable option. Familiarizing yourself with the user experience is a great way to ensure you are ready to help your students when they want to make the switch, too. If you’re not 100% comfortable with the technology, we have a great getting started section of our Help website as well as recorded modules around the user experience available on our Resource Center.
Setting up dedicated time and space to talk about eBooks and audiobooks is a great way to disseminate information to your students, too. Set up a booth or table at the activity fair using printable takeaways and digital displays as décor and spread the word on different social media platforms with a variety of graphics and videos. You could even set up digital discovery sessions where students could explore the collection on a tablet, laptop, or phone!
We also have customizable scripts and other templates available for morning announcements, letters to parents, and other channels to promote your website to students, educators, and parents.
Spread the word at open houses and parent nights
Your current student population may not be the only community members who could benefit from your digital collection. Let everyone know you are at the forefront of the digital revolution by offering information about your OverDrive service at events catering to parents or prospective students. Whether you print our customizable posters, flyers, or bookmarks as take-home guides or assist student ambassadors in giving virtual walk-throughs of the collection, you’ll help spread the news about your school digital website.
These are just a few tips to get the word out and keep your students engaged with eBooks or audiobooks. Have more tips or any success stories around discoverability and digital content? Share them in the comments below!