5 reasons to try High Speed Training High Speed Training
Has teaching become a stop-gap career? Teach First
5 reasons to try…free online cricket resources Chance to Shine
Oxford Revise AQA GCSE English Language – A revision workbook with emphasis on clarity and specificity Oxford Secondary AQA GCSE English
Win a STEM workshop for your school with Cisco Pathways Cisco Pathways
Teach Early Years Magazine Subscribe today!
Teach Primary Magazine Subscribe today!
Teach Secondary Magazine Subscribe today!
Technology and Innovation Magazine Order now!
Teach Reading and Writing Magazine Order now!
Oxford University Press Courses
Reviewed by John Dabell
Reading Cloud is a blockbuster of a new resource. It’s an online, cloud-based literary community that aims to encourage reading for pleasure – and if you dip your toes in the water and experience it for yourself I think you’ll find it does this with consummate ease. In fact, it’s hard to come up with a stronger resource than this for searching, reserving or downloading resources – not only from your school library but from across the cloud, too.
You can chat online with fellow users about books and authors, blog about them, recommend resources, and write and record a video book review. Reading Cloud even lets you share your home library with friends. Clearly, it’s rather special. Reading Cloud is attractive to look at – colourful, fresh, and friendly. The colours stand out for the right reasons, the fonts are clear and consistent, and the pages are easy to navigate and quick to load – everything feels right. It has the funky and creative feel of an established social media destination, and comes across as a site that learners won’t be embarrassed to say they are using.
There is plenty to inspire on the homepage, such as a Star Review segment, a Featured Author section, and Post-it style notelets that feature a word of the day, a fact of the day and updates from Twitter and Facebook feeds. The brilliant ‘Meet the Authors’ video link lets users see real-life authors in the flesh talking about their books; if you want to find a particular author, there’s a ‘Who’s Next?’ function to help you. The site’s ‘Trending’ box contains the words, authors and titles most searched for by visitors, while at the foot of the page you will find a collection of the 100 most popular books to click on and read.
For me, the big hitters on the homepage are the author videos and the ‘most popular books’ reports. The former would be great for kick-starting a literacy lesson or inspiring a writing workshop; the Reading Cloud automatically selects a random author video each time it is loaded, but you can access others from a huge list. The most popular books section can be searched according to fiction and non-fiction, gender target, or new titles only. You can also specify whether you are looking for the most popular in your school or across the whole Reading Cloud community.
Of course, the idea of reading a book on your tablet isn’t new – but this site enables students to feel part of a real reading community. It’s a meeting place, a sharing place, a creative space and a quiet corner if you want it to be. I wish my library service gave me the option to reserve a book, take a quiz, write a review and watch an author video, as well as make my own. It’s not all about school though. Parents get a piece of the pie too, where they are able to take a peek at reading choices made by their young ones, track progress, join in discussions, access e-books and take pride in their child’s reviews, as well as find hints and tips from experts with useful links covering topics like bullying and schoolwork.
The homepage is one thing, but if you are logged in as a registered user you’ll see the screen change to an interactive personal homepage with further features to enjoy. There is a popular ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ Box, where you can post a short status message for others to see, and a timeline that displays all your personal activity on Reading Cloud, as well as the activity of friends.
The personalised ‘Who’s Next?’ section contains suggestions based on previous reading activity. I also liked the ‘My Info’ area, and so will pupils – it shows information on friends and their online status, notifications of friend requests, home library loan requests and the guaranteed-to-be-a-hit instant chat option; MLS has really tapped into the student world. The ‘My Profile’ section hits the back of the net too, enabling users to pen a mini-autobiography, create their own avatar and view books, authors and profiles that they have liked.
Blogging is a great way to get students writing. Reading Cloud will protect students’ blogs from public access, but allow them to be viewed by other users. There’s also the facility for users to add lists of books, DVDs and games they own to their Reading Cloud account, and for others to submit requests to borrow them.
Finally, one of the finest features on offer is the option not only to write a book review, but to record it as a video too. Once one student starts, watch the snowball effect as their creativity is inspired to new heights.
VERDICT: Anything’s possible
With Reading Cloud you get to elevate reading to dizzy heights of popularity; create dynamic new lessons using the books and features on offer; and provide a safe network of enquiry based learning. Also, not only are you able to provide a literacy centred online social network, you can even collaborate with other schools, and integrate public libraries into the Reading Cloud.