More than 700 people attended the OverDrive Education’s in-booth sessions at ISTE earlier this week, the busiest we’ve seen. Particularly popular was Using public domain eBooks for the public good: learning with Project Gutenberg. Partner Lisa Kulka, Library Specialist at Northside ISD, walked attendees through Project Gutenberg, the volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works. Attendees were thrilled that OverDrive supports free access to many classics, freeing up budget for contemporary eBooks.

In a 101 session on Monday, Becky Calzada, District Information & Library Services Coordinator, Leander ISD, offered tips on how to engage students and staff with digital content. A digital library is perfect for customizing curriculum, lesson planning and to get students reading. Once students engage with reading, they just need some guidance before they are hooked.

The more students read, the more likely they are to think critically, learn independently and develop a lifelong love of reading. Research shows that using a variety of texts helps students develop strategies to understand, analyze and synthesize information. So many attendees were curious how one OverDrive Education partner increased reading rates by 200 percent through the district’s digital reading platform. Faye Hagerty, Director of Library Services at North East ISD, shared her experience and how eBooks and audiobooks serve her students no matter their reading level, interest or pace.

So, what’s new?

Over the three-day show, OverDrive booth attendees learned about the flexibility of a digital reading platform, including support for differentiated instruction, English Language Learning, Hi-Lo literacy instruction and blended learning. Educators were especially interested in our shared eBook and audiobook collections, our most flexible lending model. In another exciting development for K-12 readers, we announced our upcoming reading app, designed specifically for schools!

Our favorite ISTE highlights

EdWeek presented on Tech Titans Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. We learned about the shift in the device market in edtech, and where the most growth is expected over the next few years.

EdSurge offered their take on the companies, products and news from the ISTE exhibition hall that made their ears perk up. Read their round up of what edtechies should look out for in the coming year.

In the increasingly connected classroom, schools require students to access curricula via their personal (BYOD) or school-issued (1:1) devices, ushering in a virtual minefield of distractions. As such, we appreciate NetRef’s tips to keep students on task while reading or doing their other classwork.

Seven Steps for Reducing Classroom Internet Distractions

1.Provide students and parents clearly detailed Internet use guidelines.
2.Use software that does not require installation on student devices.
3.Generate individual daily, weekly or monthly Internet use reports to help encourage good habits.
4.Teach students how to access online learning and research tools.
5.Utilize classroom management systems that allow at-a-glance optics of real-time student Internet activity.
6.Connect the dots between responsible online and offline behavior … values are the same everywhere.
7.Implement easy-to-use EdTech that allows teachers to manage access from a single point.

What was your favorite part of ISTE? Let us know in the comments.