Have you ever wondered what your school would be like if you had a digital library? Why wouldn’t you want your students to have instant access to thousands of ebooks from practically any smart device?
But, what are the challenges with transitioning to a digital library and what is the best platform for schools to use? We chat to Librarian, Felicity Jacobsz of Our Lady of Fatima Dominican Convent School, who gave us insight into how they have been using top-rated ebook supplier, Snapplify to improve their student’s literacy and enhance their learning ability.
Q1: What made you choose Snapplify as your e-learning partner – what first grabbed your attention?
A: We undertook a survey amongst our learners in 2012 to determine whether they wished to have access to ebooks. The survey indicated that they were not willing to have an ebook library. In 2016, we decided to open the idea up to the learners again.
Bearing in mind that young people are very influenced by what the fad of the moment is, we were not surprised to see that they were now more receptive to the idea.
We then decided to do some research to find a service provider that would best serve our requirements. One of the most important requirements was access to isiZulu content as we are building our stock of books in languages other than English. Snapplify was the best choice for our school.
Q2: What is the biggest benefit you’ve noticed since using Snapplify’s digital library?
A: The immediate access is very important to our girls. They are used to quick and immediate access to what it is they require. This is a great drawcard for them.
Q3: How do you use their digital library to improve literacy and enhance learning?
A: We have implemented a few class projects to get our girls to use the library and explore diverse digital skills that spread across different subjects. Turning reading into writing is nothing new. However, we have definitely noticed better accuracy when asking students to email a homework task rather than when they write it out on a piece of paper. Revision, error correction and feedback are also easier for the teacher when the writing is in digital format.
For one of our recent projects, students chose a book from the Snapplify library, read the book, and then created a book review in the form of a vlog. In contrast to a written book review or live presentation, the girls had to incorporate the film skills that they have been learning as part of their Film studies class.
We have also set more dramatic projects where a group of students produced a two-minute film showing their interpretation of a poignant scene in an ebook they have recently read. They needed to appoint a producer to manage the project and were marked on their storyboarding, interpretation, camera angles, shots, mise en scène and credit roll.
Q4: What challenges have you experienced whilst implementing a digital library?
A: We are aware that young people drift from one new idea to the next. So, to counter this, we actively promote the use of Snapplify in our school. We want to help our students understand libraries better and ultimately challenge them to move out of their comfort zone and read more widely.
The activities we do range from chatting about various books, genres, etc. (often over a cup of coffee) to current affairs sessions to keep the girls abreast of what is happening in the world.
Our library is more relaxed than other libraries as we are more interested in our girls reading and discussing books than we are about them keeping silent. It is very much a social setting for book lovers.
We are fully committed to our decision to embrace technology on all levels. So, it is important to us that we drive the learning process and encourage the girls to familiarise themselves with different and innovative ways of enhancing their learning.
Q5: What advice would you give to schools looking to adopt a digital library?
A: Incorporating e-learning has required us to constantly give the girls tasks to do in order to help them feel fully comfortable with using the technology. Some girls only need to be shown once and away they go – happily reading books. Other girls require constant prompting in order to motivate them to read.
We are fortunate in that our teachers are united in this desired objective and are willing to help the girls use the tools at their disposal. Because we have been actively driving Snapplify from the staff level, the girls are starting to use the facility more and more and are enjoying the process.
The most important part of the digital library and, in fact, any computerised reading programme is the search engine. If the algorithm is good and the girls are able to access the book they require quickly, the interest is maintained. If not, they swing away quickly. Watching the girls on their devices is quite extraordinary – they are wired to understand technology.
Ebooks are becoming their primary reading choice more and more simply because they are easy to carry around and they have easy access to thousands of books on a single device. It is not a change that happens overnight, but the benefits and learning/teaching enhancements are worth the effort.
Q6: Would you recommend Snapplify to other schools and why?
A: Yes – I would recommend Snapplify to other schools. Our girls are starting to enjoy using the facility. The layout is colourful and attractive. Once the girls got involved in accessing ebooks, they were quick to recommend Snapplify to other learners.
We love it when a school embraces technology that is truly making a difference in their students’ lives. This interview would hopefully have inspired you to see the many creative ways you can use a digital library to help improve your learner’s literacy and enhance their learning ability.
The digital library that we have been talking about in this article is Snapplify’s digital library. Snapplify is a top-rated ebook supplier with some awesome reviews on SchoolAdvisor. If you’d like some more info about which ebooks they stock, etc., simply fill in your details below and a friendly member of their team will get back to you soon.