in Education

Sora: Ushering Classrooms into a New Era

Technology is swiftly advancing, and students are encouraged to interact with tech on a daily basis in order to develop the foundational skills that they will need to thrive in a tech heavy society. Coupling the need for those skills with the constant fluctuation of the classroom setting utilizing distant learning, homeschooling, and alternative education, physical print books are a resource that is not easily accessible to students, teachers, and parents. All of those factors have been compiled to result in a need for digital resources that are easily accessible and user friendly.

The leading global digital reading platform, OverDrive, released the Sora app in September 2018. Since its release it has been acknowledged as TIME’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019. It has also received awards for the 2019 Academics’ Choice Smart Media Award and a Gold Stevie Award in 2021.

Benefits of Sora

A leading digital book distributor, OverDrive has built steadfast relationships with top publishing companies like Penguin Random House Canada, Harper Collins Publishers, Blackstone Publishing, and many more. Those partnerships ensure that the K through 12 app offers over millions of different titles for students to choose from at any given time.

  • The app offers 24/7 access to students with the ability to download the book to any device to be read offline.
  • There are options available to make the reading experience more accessible to students including screen lighting, font sizing, adjustable narration speeds, and screen reader support.
  • The app offers titles in multiple different languages, bridging the gap for multilingual students and teachers.
  • The capability to take notes and send notes offers students the opportunity to communicate with teachers and classmates about what they are reading.

OverDrive Education has reported that e-book checkouts through its Sora student reading app increased 62% year-over-year in 2021 and that digital audio checkouts grew by 24%. And they are not done developing. In January 2023, OverDrive announced Sora Extra, a partnership with recently acquired TeachingBooks that will offer even more resources for interactive learning.

Consumer Perspective

For schools, the availability of an app like Sora has enabled them to promote healthier relationships between students and reading. With easy accessibility and a user friendly platform, children as young as 5 years old are able to read along with stories that they normally would be unable to read independently. Students struggling with the smaller texts in print books are encouraged to use the option to enlarge the text to better see, simultaneously taking away feelings of frustration they may be experiencing. The surge in immigrants from different countries has resulted in many non-English speaking students who are now able to have access to stories in their primary language.

Teachers are able to assign student reading assignments and monitor their progress across the platform without worrying about the possibility of them not having access to the physical book due to lack of inventory or the book not being in the student’s possession. The capability of taking notes, highlighting passages, or messaging through the app, ensures that the students are able to personalize their education with the teacher and develop better reading comprehension skills.

School libraries are limited in their inventory, only receiving certain numbers of copies of physical texts. With access to Sora, they are better able to accommodate students demanding trending titles or subjects, resulting in more reading time by the students.

Publishers Perspective

Partnering with companies like OverDrive gives authors and publishing companies access to a wider range of distribution. The collaboration between the two parties provides many benefits that can go a long way in guaranteeing success for a book that may not be available with print copies. For example, OverDrive offers:

  • No cost merchandising and promotion. The teams compound that date to put options in the forefront of interested readers. This promotes books and produces larger scales of sales.
  • A large catalog reviewed frequently by libraries and educators drives discovery and purchasing availability.
  • Once purchased, the books are immediately available to students through the Sora app making it more appealing for consumers to utilize.
  • Real-time reporting offers publishers and authors insight on how the work is being received by readers.

The easy accessibility for such a large audience, with Sora being utilized extensively in the classrooms and by schools, has promoted a heavy traffic towards books and physical texts that many have not experienced due to the changing dependency on technology. By utilizing this option, publishers are experiencing an uptick in the production of books and texts.

The New Era

As the world becomes more and more advanced the need to adapt is paramount to success. The development and utilization of apps such as Sora affords all parties involved the chance to guarantee that the written word does not become an inconvenience. Sora, specifically, is making strides to ensure that the relationship between text and readers is still a promising partnership. They also continue to expand and develop to make the world of digital text a positive experience.