Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Reading and studying in the cloud:

A new way of reading, studying & discussing books, developed in Australia, could help revolutionise learning.
By Kirsten Anthony
Date: June 25 2013
Editor Rating:
read_cloud

A new and innovative reading App may help revolutionise learning – as well as reduce costs for parents and schools and be better for the backs of school children.

Innovative new eReading software invented in Australia could be set to revolutionise learning in schools by increasing student participation and engagement in the classroom and at home.

ReadCloud, a world-first, allows students and teachers to share notes and have discussions inside an e-book.

“The way we consumer books has been reinvented,” says co-founder Lars Lindstrom.

“It doesn’t mean we have stopped reading, it just means we can read, learn and absorb information in a different way.”

Mr Lindstrom explains that the e-book “hadn’t done anything exciting in five years” yet technological developments meant it could be so much more than the traditional book reproduced in digital format.

“The ReadCloud technology means that students and teacher can see and share each other’s notes and discuss it online. It completely enriches the learning experience and promotes collaborative learning,” he says.  

The ReadCloud software can be used on any PC or tablet platform and features a library of more than 100,000 eBooks from leading global publishers including Random House, Penguin and Oxford University Press.

“Students can access their entire curriculum through one app and one login, and simply open their eBooks to share text, picture or video annotations inside the books that are then visible by their classmates and teacher.”

Mr Lindstrom says ReadCloud was developed after consultation with teachers, librarians and educational bloggers.

“One of the key things they all said was that the solution must work offline as not everyone has wireless.

“We tested ReadCloud with teachers and they were really excited about it. They say it helps promote critical reasoning and encourages children not to just believe what they read, but to also research, question and debate it in a safe ring-fenced school environment.

“Research shows collaboration pays dividends in education and, when coupled with information and communications technologies such as ReadCloud, better prepares children for their future careers and life in a digital world. Publishing work online can also give students a stronger sense of ownership over their work, encouraging better quality assignments.”

“As well as promoting collaborative learning, the otheadvantages of ReadCloud has to do with cost and weight,” says Mr Lindstrom.

“Purchasing an e-book is much cheaper and longer lasting than a hard copy book. And it also means we don’t have to see kids breaking their backs toting around a backpack laden with books.”

One of the first schools to adopt ReadCloud is Sydney’s PLC.

“ReadCloud encourages a truly collaborative learning experience,” according to IT director, Chris Waterman.

“We are excited about the how it can allow students to take the concepts they learn in class back home, discuss it in the eBook and reframe it in terms they understand experience.

“It can also help make class even more relevant – if a student doesn’t understand the definition of a word in their eBook, they can find out instantly.”

With many concerns among educators and parents about the safety of children operating in the digital space, ReadCloud has employed a number of measures to ensure cyber safety.Chief among these are digital encryption and the use of groups managed by education staff who must send an official invite for children to join.

“This securely locks the system down to each school. ReadCloud offers schools strategies and support when contemplating or implementing a digital switch-over. Without the proper guidance, this process can be arduous and complex,” Mr Lindstrom says.

“We also work closely with our publishers to ensure copyright is enforced and protected. What schools may not know is that by placing publisher content on external websites or systems without the publisher’s consent, they are violating copyright law or terms of use. So we’re able to reduce the legal liability schools face in becoming more digital.”

Mr Lindstrom and his co-founder plan to extend ReadCloud into other schools as well as Open Universities and other organisations.

Find out more about ReadCloud with this video or visit ReadCloud.

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