Ed Tech Research

Rise of Ebooks Reflects Rise of Remote Ed

The use of ebooks in schools has risen with the growth of remote education. A survey found that two-thirds of teachers (67 percent) said they're using more this year than last year, while more than eight in 10 of administrators (85 percent) said their districts were using digital books. In elementary grades (K-4), nearly half of teachers (48 percent) reported that they've adopted electronic versions of popular or educational books to supplement classroom curriculum. In high school, the leading use of ebooks is as an electronic replacement for class textbooks, cited by 39 percent of teachers.

These findings were shared by OverDrive Education, a division of OverDrive, which produces a platform for managing and distributing digital books in schools and Sora, a reading app for students. The survey queried 300 U.S. teachers and 100 U.S. administrators online during September 2020. Almost all--98 percent of administrators and 94 percent of teachers--reported that some portion of their students were learning remotely.

How ebooks are being used in the classroom. Source: OverDrive Education

How ebooks are being used in the classroom. Source: OverDrive Education

When asked how they "felt" about the use of ebooks, a majority of respondents in both roles said ebooks have allowed their teachers to teach remotely. Teachers were more likely to report that students "enjoyed" reading ebooks (27 percent compared to 38 percent of administrators). Administrators were more likely to view ebooks as a "great resource" for students who struggle with reading (35 percent versus 30 percent) or for those who are learning English (30 percent compared to 20 percent).

About one in five respondents (20 percent of administrators and 17 percent of teachers) also acknowledged that ebooks weren't valuable because their students lacked the technology needed to access them. Among teachers in rural schools, 58 percent said they didn't use any ebooks in their classes.

"Ebooks have allowed educators to adapt to remote learning during COVID-19 without missing a beat. Now, they are recognizing how beneficial digital resources are for the long term," said Angela Arnold, general manager of OverDrive Education, in a statement. "Teachers don't have to worry about getting physical books to students. Digital books allow students to complete classroom reading assignments or read for pleasure, regardless of whether the district is teaching in person or remote. This makes ebooks and audiobooks a smart investment for the future."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.