myON Tackles K-12 Literacy Issues with Personalized Reading Platform
Despite advancements in technology and access to information, literacy remains a huge issue in K-12 schools throughout the world. “Reading achievement is persistently low,” says Todd Brekhus, president of myON™. “Only 35% of all fourth graders, 36% of eighth graders and, 38% of twelfth graders read proficiently.” To help students overcome these literacy challenges, myON, a business unit of Capstone Publishing, developed a personalized digital reading environment to make it easier for students to access books anywhere and at any time.
The platform offers over 10,000 titles, including ebooks from Capstone Publishing, Disney, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, National Geographic, and more. myON also personalizes the reading experience by matching students with ebooks based on their interests and reading level and tracking students’ reading growth. Here Brekhus shares how the myON platform has impacted students and what sets it apart from other educational reading platforms.
What problem are you solving?
Based on the historically stagnant growth in literacy rates throughout the world there is a growing and critical need to improve reading in schools and at home. Research shows that children’s access to books is a greater predictor of a high level achievement than their parents’ level of education. Through myON every student has unlimited access to every book on the platform. With fiction and nonfiction books in a variety of formats -- picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, titles in Spanish, bilingual titles and titles for struggling or reluctant readers -- myON provides content to draw readers in and keep them motivated.
How is your product improving the way that readers consume that content?
Since its launch myON has served thousands of schools and more than 6 million students, helping them dramatically improve reading motivation and achievement. After the Charleston County School District began using myON, the average digital book was read 337 times. Compare this to the circulation of the average print book in school libraries of 10 times a year. In other words, the title turnover was more than 30 times greater for digital books. More children were reading more books because they were empowered through choice and the books were readily accessible.
At Komensky Elementary School in Berwyn School District 100, one of the poorest in Illinois with a large minority population, provided students with access to myON at school and at home. Since the start of the program, students have opened more than a million books and read for more 120,000 hours. Three years ago, 30-40 percent of students were reading at grade level and today it’s up to 60-85 percent.
When children have access to an on-demand library of digital books and have the power to choose what they read, their reading habits change. They read more books, spend more time reading, and enjoy it more.
Who is your competition?
There are several companies that provide ebook libraries and ebooks with digital supports, such as Newsela and LightSail. However, myON is the only literacy environment available today that creates individual dashboards for students based on their interests and abilities as well as provide writing tools to enhance their experience (and meet standards).
What important trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?
To achieve the vision of higher standards and ensure all students are on track to graduate and succeed beyond K-12 education, school districts are increasingly transitioning to digital learning environments because of the efficiency and effectiveness they afford. It’s an opportune time for publishers to expand their presence in the education market through digital learning platforms, particularly as children’s appetite for ebooks continues to grow year over year among all age groups.
As myON looks toward the future of literacy and publishing, it sees a shift in the English-Language Arts education landscape. Rather than addressing reading, writing, thinking, and listening in separate instructional silos, educators are seeking to combine these areas seamlessly. Technology enables educators to easily create a closer connection between each of these literacy components while fostering collaboration.
Recently myON has enhanced its personalized reading environment with the addition of writing tools. Educators can create assignments that direct students to write essays integrating their reading journal entries, graphic organizers, and dictionary, all within myON’s literacy environment. Our company will continue to offer new interactive literacy tools and variety of reading texts to further instill a love of reading and ensure all kids are prepared with the skills needed to succeed in school and beyond.
Todd Brekhus is the president of myON, a business division of Capstone Publishing which provides a personalized reading environment that matches students’ interests and reading level and tracks their reading growth. While at the helm, Brekhus has been named Visionary of the year by EdTech Digest and AAP for his dedication and forward thinking approach to literacy. Prior to joining Capstone, Brekhus held executive positions in a range of businesses from startups to large education companies, and spent eight years in education as a teacher, department chair, and technology director.