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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Goodreads App for iOS

by
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.25 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 04, 2013 by Teacher Education
Overview: Goodreads App for iOS is an application which allows users to save reading lists and to post book reviews. Other users can also read and post comments on the book reviews. Books can be saved to virtual bookshelves. Features include a barcode scanner, free ebooks, and an option to view nearby literary events.
Learning Goals: Users will be able to search a database of 300 million books to find reference materials and submitted reviews. They can create to-do lists of books that they would like to read, are currently reading, or have finished, and discuss their readings with friends in public and private book groups. Users can also take advantage of over 2000 works of classic literature available to read for free.
Target Student Population: Middle school, high school, and college students can use this application as well as the general public.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A basic understanding of how to download and launch iOS apps.
Type of Material: Books can be saved which would make the app a collection. It is reference material. It can be linked to Twitter and Facebooks making the app, a social networking tool.
Recommended Uses: This app would be best utilized as a reference for students completing reading assignments as homework or as a supplement to class discussions. Because of the collaborative tools built into the app, it could also be used for student groups to read and discuss works as a team.
Technical Requirements: The Apple website states that the app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It requires iOS 4.3 or later and is optimized for iPhone 5. The barcode scanner on the app requires a camera (meaning that older iPads and iPhones won’t be able to use this function).

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: The heart of this app is giving readers access to countless book reviews and a lively discourse on both current and classic works. However, the ability to access free books in an interface similar to eReaders such as the Kindle or Nook is an added bonus. With over 30,000 works of classic literature available for download as free eBooks, this app can help students in classes with a heavy reading load to save money on purchasing books.
Concerns: The types of books that are read do not necessarily have to have academic value. The writing posted in the book reviews is not peer reviewed and can be informal in nature. Some of the features on the website, like searching and joining public groups, are unavailable on the app. With such a great mobile website, it might be preferable for iPad users to simply access the site rather than use the app given the lack of features.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: With a wealth of books, reviews and users connected to this app, GoodReads is well-suited for the classroom and could potentially serve as an online meeting space for student discussions and class book groups.
Concerns: It would be helpful if the app did a better job of demonstrating what can be accomplished in the app and how people might use it. For instance, the primary functionality of the app is to create reading lists and to bookmark works as ones to read or to review. An important improvement would be to better highlight the functionality of collaborative discussion and the sharing ideas would allow this app to really shine, in that without this, it’s really just a listmaking program.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: Teachers and students can easily use Goodreads. The icons are visually appealing and can be accessed by touching the screen. There is an oversized app support button.
Concerns: Though the ads in the app aren’t at all obtrusive, it would be nice if they were presented as recommendations based on books you are looking for. Also, selecting text and pulling up the navigation in reading mode can be a little clunky.

Other Issues and Comments: The book titles and reviews may contain mature themes, violence, and profanity.