October 13, 2019
August 2, 2019
July 2, 2019
June 4, 2019
April 30, 2019
The Literature team completed 74 Books in May! Thank you for the hours of narrating, listening, teamwork and talent that makes this possible!
My name is Kevin Ziegler. I am the Digital Audio Coordinator with Learning Ally. In other words, I’ m the “audio guy”. I am in charge of QA (Quality Control). Basically, I handle all the audio as it is completed. In other terms, I strive to clean up and enhance all the audio. Lastly, through this blog, I was hoping to let everyone into my world and explain a bit about what happens in “post.”
What is “Post- Production”?
My primary focus is to level all the files across the entire book- which allows them to play smoothly without noticeable volume fluctuations. I also need to remove all the extra noise that can sometimes be introduced from different recording environments. After all of that, I “EQ” each title to best enhance the audio that is there--balancing the sonic frequencies to make it sound “good” to the ear.
What do I utilize?
I use a program called Izotope RX7, which is an industry-standard audio editing and mastering tool. This program allows me to batch process (work with many titles all at once to save time) and customizes different options for dealing with common recurring audio issues.
Is every title treated the same way?
Easiest answer is no. Most "classic audio" titles (textbooks and vocational-type books) are handled in the same fashion. As for the Voicetext, I listen to a sample from each book when it’s completed, and make a decision then about how to treat it, pulling from my different “recipes” as needed.
What are the most common issues we encounter?
Mouse clicks, background noise, plosives (popping sounds on certain letters, esp. P’s and B’s), sibilance (harsh S sounds), electrical noise, & poor recording environments.
Setting a Proper Level:
I generally recommend that the light gray area of the Easybooks window be filled up with the level being set.
That being said, there isn't a precise min and max level. My suggestion is to always avoid any red in the recording level. Digital audio has a tendency to distort at those high levels. The other side if a level is so low it appears as only a blip in the window, it is more than likely much too low. I sincerely hope all this information makes sense. Also, if something looks or sounds wrong to you, point it out to the project lead.
Important takeaway: While the tools I use are indeed very powerful and beneficial, I’m sorry to say, it cannot fix everything. This is especially true when we factor in time limitations and volume of titles we produce--all with our efficient-but-small production staff. That is why it is important to have the best possible audio signal at its source. I hope these answers help deepen your understanding of our process. If you have any questions, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you. Thanks again, for all your commitment and dedication towards Learning Ally.
Learning Ally’s Summer Reading Together program is already helping thousands of students avoid summer slide! Just since June 1st:
More than 3,000 students reading
More than 500,000 pages read
More than 500,000 minutes read
Students are having a great time exploring fun lit and even LEARNING over the summer. Click here to watch the video recommendation posted by one of our enthusiastic participants:
Look for more exciting news from our students as the summer goes on! To learn more about the program (and share the information with teachers and families who may want to join in the fun), click on this link:
Metrics Update for this week:
Our readers increased to 209,389
We’ve had over 141 million pages read--an increase of 65% over last year for school readers!
We had 46,058 reading at frequency*
Happy Summer, and Happy Reading, everyone!
*at frequency = students are reading books multiple times during the school year, with a general target of thirty times (more for lower grades, less for upper grades). Our data shows that most of these students read for at least 20 minutes each time.
The Literature Community completed 56 Books in April! Thank you all for helping us record these books.
It’s summer time, and that means...Learning Ally’s Summer Reading Together!
Each year, students all over the country compete for monthly and grand prizes while completing summer reading assignments and fighting summer slide. It’s a great program and motivates students to continue building their reading and comprehension skills. The students can read anything available on Learning Ally, including material assigned as summer reading and books that are just for fun. To help them get started, the Family part of our website includes a link to Learning Ally Featured Books, grouped by themes such as Summer Reading Together: Space Exploration and Learning Ally Featured Books from Best-Selling Series, and includes books ranging from items based on movies to classic literature. To explore our current list, click here:
In addition, we have a Vocabulary Challenge for them on social media, where they can upload video recommendations of summer reading books, or post three to six vocabulary words that they learned during their summer reading experience. Participants will be entered into a raffle, and one lucky winner will be the proud owner of a new Chromebook at the end of the summer!
Our readers increased to 208,500
We’ve had over 137 million pages read--an increase of 66% over last year for school readers!
We had 45,743 reading at frequency*
Keep up the great work, everyone! We're looking forward to a terrific summer!
We are very pleased to announce a new EasyBooks release!
This new version 4.020 offers several new features that we think you will like:
Links to the installation instructions are here and also linked from the EasyBooks homescreen (you may need to scroll down a bit):
EasyBooks for PC 4.020
EasyBooks for Mac 4.020
Not sure which version you have? Check the top bar and it will show which version you have. Please contact Vol-Support@LearningAlly.org if you need any help with the update or installation.
For more detail, please see our EasyBooks version doc.
Books Completed in May, 2019
Books Completed in April, 2019
Once again, Learning Ally hosted its hit online conference Spotlight on Dyslexia this past Friday. SPOD is a dynamic conference featuring sixteen speakers from all over the country, experts and specialists in dyslexia, literacy, and neuroscience, for in-depth discussions of the facts of dyslexia and the issues faced by dyslexic students, their families and their teachers. This incredible event lasts all day and is attended by educators and administrators, parents, students, and teachers-in-training--anyone who wants to learn more about dyslexia and the solutions available that help people with dyslexia succeed in a print-based environment and beyond.
Completely online, SPOD’s Theater offered fifteen sessions (three to choose from during each session period) ranging from “Older Struggling Readers: What Do They Need?” to “We’ve Screened for Dyslexia...Now What?” and “What a Successful Public School Dyslexia Program Looks Like”.
In addition, our Keynote Speaker was Dr. Maryanne Wolf, an educator famous for her advocacy for children and literacy around the world. Her keynote address was “Lessons from the Reading Brain for Dyslexia, Early Diagnosis, and Intervention”. Click here to learn more about her: https://www.maryannewolf.com/
To augment the activity of the day, we also had a Lounge with two chatrooms available all day, one specifically for educators and one specifically for parents. These were places where people could reach out and learn from each other’s experiences. There were some great interactions going on, and it was absolutely heartwarming to see people helping each other succeed.
The Resource Center was a great place where participants could access and download pdfs and videos provided by Learning Ally, our partners, and the speakers:
Learning Ally partnered with edWeb.com so that educators attending the event could receive up to sixteen Continuing Education credits. One great aspect: if you were tied up that day, every session is recorded, and participants can access the sessions and Keynote Address later to experience at the time that is best for them. Another bonus: since participants could attend only one-third of the presentations live, the recordings give participants the opportunity to experience ALL the sessions. Educators who registered for the event have until September 30th to submit their quizzes and receive their CE credits. Each session also had its own dedicated chat and Question and Answer that attendees could actively participate in during the live sessions, giving them the opportunity to ask questions directly to the speakers, as well as to chat with others interested in the specific topic being discussed.
We had over 1400 registered, and it was a busy day. A few of the comments we received included:
From a teacher: SPOD exceeded her expectations, it’s fabulous, easy to understand with great downloadable resources!
From a student: “Hi, everyone, I hope everyone’s enjoying their conference. I’m so excited to be here to be supporting Learning Ally. Learning Ally has been such an instrumental part to my Success in school. I’ve been using the software since 10th [grade] and it has transformed the way I learn.”
From another teacher: “The students love Learning Ally! I always do a group lesson how to utilize it correctly before sending them off to read/listen. We focus on how listening to a book can be a tool that will help them become stronger readers...and they come in SO proud that they finished their first book. I feel that Learning Ally levels the playing field for them. They can tackle a text that other students are reading and are able to discuss it with them because they are able to listen and comprehend instead of struggle to decode words and create meaning…”
In a past year an educator who attended told us, “The conference helped me grow so much as an educator and I earned CE credits. The content and the experts were top notch!”
This year’s conference was no different--sought-after content, knowledgeable speakers, opportunities to share ideas and solutions! Learning Ally has once again supported the success of teachers, administrators, students, and families, all over the country! Start thinking now about joining us next time!
Our readers increased to 207,718
We’ve had over 135 million pages read--an increase of 66% over last year for school readers!
We had 45,403 reading at frequency*
Thanks for all your hard work, everyone--together we are making a tremendous difference in the lives of so many people!
Our Listener focused training course is under development and has us focusing on ways we could all do more to help keep quality a top priority with Learning Ally audiobooks. The new Listener course is designed to get volunteers involved in checking the work of our Literature community narrators. While similar to the Checking process of our textbooks, there are some special distinctions that need to be made as we evaluate the presentation of literary works. Word accuracy and pronunciation are still essential but we also need to evaluate the performance of characters that bring life and energy and keep a student engaged in their reading. You can see some of our work-in-progress lesson materials on the Training Site. Just look for the Listener Course on the Courses page and you can contact VolTraining@LearningAlly.org for an access key if you want to take a look.
If you're eager to get involved with more opportunities to listen but don't want to wait for the new course, you can always help us provide quality reviews on some of our older book projects. There are still dozens of books looking for listeners and feedback. Visit the QA section of the volunteer portal for more information.
The Building Books for Student Success campaign raised more than $100,000, thanks to our staff and volunteers’ efforts. In addition to the donations and outreach of various organizations and individuals, over 40 volunteers created personal fundraisers asking their network of family, friends, and colleagues to donate, acquiring 290 new donors and reaching far beyond our own network of followers. This year we also partnered with Such A Voice, an online school for voice-over artists that aligns perfectly with our mission. Such A Voice raised close to $10,000 for BBSS and we look forward to working with them more closely in the future for volunteer recruitment.
This May we produced 82 VOICEText Books and 27 Classic Audiobooks. The combined total of 109 produced last month is more than we produced in October 2017, the last month before we went virtual. It's quite an achievement for our at-home volunteers but also an inevitable outcome. Since we moved to virtual production, all sorts of new avenues for volunteer involvement have opened up and as we introduce new programs, our volunteers move to fill them. Thank you for your continued work and devotion to our mission!