Story Planet Launches New Research!

Story Planet and the Michael Cohen Group (MCG) launch new research that reveals current in-school digital book practices, key influencers, and purchase drivers among Ontario early elementary teachers and school librarians. The project, “If We Build It Will They Come? Digital Books in the Educational Landscape,” also provides insights at the school and industry level.

“This research helps us understand how and when teachers and librarians use digital books in school. As we develop our own publications, written by children, we’ll have a better sense of how we ourselves can incorporate digital books to encourage children to create their own stories,” says Liz Haines, Executive Director of Story Planet. “Additionally, we’re happy to share what we’ve learned with the Ontario digital book creation community and hope it is useful in informing their strategic plans for growing their business.”

“By identifying current usage as well as the needs and barriers to the more extensive use of digital books in school, we hope this research helps both the Ontario education community and the digital book creation industry as they contend with the complexities of the successful incorporation of digital media into the education system, ” said Carmina Marcial, research director at the MCG and the principal investigator for this project. The research reveals the current state of flux in Ontario schools regarding the purposeful integration of technology, including digital books.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Computers remain the most prevalent device used by students to read digital books in school, followed by the iPad
  • The most common way both teachers and school librarians look for digital books is through peer recommendations
  • The top digital book purchasing influencer for teachers is having a curriculum tie-in, for school librarians their students asking for a specific book
  • Words being sounded out when clicked on and audio narration of text were the top 2 features of digital books rated as “beneficial” by teachers and librarians
  • A common strategy for schools and district school boards to date has been to first secure the infrastructure that will enable schools to utilize new technologies. Acquisition of content on a more systematic basis will follow
  • There are some topics/themes that are underserved by current offerings of educational digital resources
  • Digital book design often inhibits learning effectiveness as a result of distracting, non-essential interactive features. Simultaneously, digital books offer enormous opportunity for enhancing learning when appropriate interactive features (e.g., highlighting of words, dictionary, etc.) are included

Funded by a grant from the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the project aims to help Ontario’s digital book creation community find ways to maximize their investment in the digital shift and grow their business.

The study’s methodology involved a four-phase program of primary and secondary market research. Primary research included individual interviews with project partners and school policy makers and an online survey with first and second grade Ontario teachers and school librarians. Secondary research consisted of a review of academic, research, and market knowledge regarding digital books and the digital book industry.

Strategic implications and recommendations – crafted through an analysis and synthesis of findings from the four phases of the Project — are included in the full report. The full report is available on the OMDC website, www.omdc.on.ca under “Research funded by the OMDC”.

Project partners include the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC), eBOUND Canada, Groundwood Books, Kids Can Press, and TVO. Partners participated in initial foundational interviews that helped identify the informational needs of digital book creators and set the stage for the rest of the research.

Story Planet is a non-profit, storymaking centre that delivers free workshops in literacy and arts that encourage young people to create and tell their stories by igniting their imagination, fuelling their knowledge and equipping them with the tools they need to launch their voice.

MCG is a research, evaluation and consulting firm with extensive experience with children, youth and families in the areas of education, child development, media, marketing and strategic communications. Engaged in applied research, scientific evaluation and knowledge-based consulting, the firm’s professionals represent the social sciences, including education, child development and psychology.

An agency of the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) is responsible for stimulating economic development in Ontario’s book and magazine publishing, interactive digital media, film, television, and music industries. For more information, visit www.omdc.on.ca.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is a national, not-for-profit organization, founded in 1976. We are dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. With book collections and extensive resources in five cities across Canada, the CCBC is a treasure-trove for anyone interested in Canadian books for young readers. Our programs, publications, and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers.

eBOUND Canada’s goal is to advance any publisher’s digital engagement, no matter their size or their level of expertise. As the market evolves, so will we, always with this mandate in mind.

Groundwood Books is an independent Canadian publisher of beautiful and thought-provoking books for children. For over 35 years we have been attracting attention, praise, starred reviews and awards for our warm and intelligent children’s books

Kids Can Press, the largest Canadian-owned children’s publisher in the world — home to major children’s brands Franklin the Turtle and Scaredy Squirrel, and to an array of international award-winning books — celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2013. From its early years as a small collective borne out of a desire to publish high-quality, socially responsible children’s books, Kids Can Press has evolved into a broad-based content company, adapting as the world of books and publishing has changed through the decades.

About TVO. As the technological extension of Ontario’s public education system, TVO’s vision is to create a better world through the power of learning. TVO provides learning opportunities for Ontarians through innovative educational products, in-depth current affairs, groundbreaking documentaries, and award-winning TVOKids resources both inside and outside the classroom. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and is a registered charity supported by sponsors and thousands of donors. For more information, visit tvo.org.