UX Research and Strategy:
Audiobooks in the Classroom to
Benefit Special Ed Students

Our Goal

Our client is trying to empower Israeli children with reading disabilities.
To do this, he is utilising the power of audiobooks (a tried and tested technique in the USA).


My process for this project was as follows.

  1. Look at their current platform and understand their pain points.
  2. Interview various stakeholders (teachers and students).
  3. Conduct a brief competitor analysis to get ideas about the services they offer.
  4. Create user flows to better understand the full user journey.
  5. Craft wireframes.

The Client's Vision

Our client would like a platform with a simple interface to make it easy for children to access the audiobooks. He would also like to gamify the system to incentivise learning. The last thing he would like is a way for the teachers to easily visualise their student’s progress.

Technical Requirements

We will be drawing the content from audiobooks in the “Library for the Blind’s” database. Users have to be eligible for membership, according to
the “Library for the Blind’s” guidelines.

Unfortunately, this means that the teachers are not able to use the platform if they’d like to play audiobooks in the classroom.

The process to apply for membership involves several steps.

  1. Student gets an eligibility form.
  2. Yoetset (psychologist) must sign the form.
  3. Teacher sends the info to the parents, who must also sign.
  4. Teacher gets the forms back and sends them en mass to the “Library for the Blind” for approval.
  5. Teacher sends the password to the parents.
  6. Student can open their personal account.

Their Current Platform

The current platform is a simple website with a small selection of audiobooks available (recorded by a group of volunteers).
Teachers using the platform report that they have a hard time with it due to the limited number of books, difficult navigation, and generally not understanding how to use the site, which has caused major issues with user retention.

Competitor Research

The Israel-Audiobook-Project doesn’t have any direct competitors. For inspiration on how to set up the interface and how to motivate students,
we looked at Audible, Learning Ally, and a variety of summer incentive programs run at different libraries throughout the US.

Getting to Know You

I was not allowed to speak directly to the students, but I was allowed to listen in as the project lead presented his initiative to a group of 9 students.
– Only 5 have smartphones that they can bring to school.
– Only 2 enjoy reading.
– All 9 of them said that listening to stories without something visual was a foreign concept to them.
– After being exposed to audiobooks, all 9 students agreed that it’s easier than reading.
– In class, they use a paper scoreboard with stickers to motivate the students and to keep track of the students “scores” and listening progress.

Insights From the Teachers

– Teachers have a lot of demands on their time and aren’t sure that a dashboard will be worth the time investment.
– The students have a hard time with desktops, but are very comfortable with smartphones.
– Most of the parents are not involved in their children’s school life.
– Students are not used to the idea of being read to.
– The students are motivated in class, but don’t enjoy listening to audiobooks at home.
– Most of the kids are motivated in cross-class competitions, but some of the teachers are apprehensive about creating that environment due to previous negative experiences. The teachers are also hesitant to create competitions where some students have an unfair advantage (eg; some students are allowed more time to listen to the books at home).

Quotes from teachers:
“I want it to help my students learn to read.”
“I want to give my students the feeling that books are accessible to them.”

Research Takeaways

Our findings questioned some of the assumptions we’d had about the platform we were creating.

– Do we need dashboard at this stage in the product? (The teachers don’t have the time to track all of their students progress).
– Should we create an app instead of a web based product as that is what the students are used more used to?
– Must it stay digital? Would in app gamification motivate the students or should we stick with the physical “scoreboard and stickers” system they’ve been using?
– What is our value statement? The teachers were split on what they hoped the project would achieve for their students.

Designing for All the Stakeholders:

Client’s goal: He is trying to expand the reach of his program. He has a very strong personal connection to the project as he personally struggles with a reading disability.

Teacher’s motivation: The teachers had several motivations, ranging from increasing literacy to building their student’s self-confidence.

Student’s motivation: At this point, I have not been allowed to talk to the students. From what I could glean through hearing them speak to our team lead, they are most motivated by social status (the scoreboard sticker system), as well as a desire to not have to read the books they’ve been assigned.

Questionnaire Results for the Teachers

73% do not listen to audiobooks.
60% have tried out the current system, but only 43% gave the login code to their students.
When asked what their biggest issues with the current system is there are three common responses:

  1. The kids aren’t motivated towards listening on their own.
  2. The current interface is too complex.
  3. Teachers don’t have the time to track their student’s progress with a dashboard.
    If we do give them a dashboard, the data they are most interested in having access to is: 
    1. Total listening time per student.
    2. Which books the students are listening to.
    3. The breakdown of how long they are listening on a daily basis.

User Flow

Student app: We decided on a simple app to listen to the audiobooks and gain badges, which they could then share with their friends on social media.

Teachers: As they aren’t officially allowed to listen to the audiobooks, the teacher’s flow focuses on curating a “bookshelf” for their students to browse through. It also allows them to track their student’s progress.

Teachers Flow
Student Flow

Interactive Prototypes

Having received the go-ahead on the user flows, I proceeded to make prototypes for both the teacher and student platforms to hand off to the
visual designer.

Student app

Teacher site

Next Steps:

At this stage, the project was going to be handed off to the visual designer. Unfortunately, the project was cancelled due to the COVID situation.

Enjoyed this case study? Shoot me an email and let’s start collaborating!


Built by Toby Trachtman. Illustrations by Blush and Flaticon

Enjoyed this case study?
Shoot me an email and let’s start collaborating!


Built by Toby Trachtman. Illustrations by Blush and Flaticon