WlliamRainyAs we look back in time, we see that distance learning has been around for over two centuries.Centuries ago, correspondence courses served as the method of delivering lessons from afar. We have moved away from the correspondence courses administered by Sir Isaac Pitman’s Correspondence Colleges in England and the first president of the University Of Chicago, William Rainey Harper, where course materials were delivered by mail and communication had to be asynchronous in nature. The methods of delivering courses and evaluating assignments have advanced along with the evolution of technology.OneManReading

Many courses in K-12 education require students to write book reports. Writing and participating in book reports and discussions about books, are a common occurrence in education and society as a whole. The internet and all of its components and applications, has given way to vast new methods of facilitating book reports and literary discussions. Two online book reporting platforms are Librarything and MighhtyBell.

Librarything  is a book club that is widely,  it has close to one million users and may be the largest in the world.  LibraryThing is a website where book reviews can be read and created. Various categories related to authors and topics can be found.  Some of the categories are; 50 top rated authors, 25 most viewed books, 25 top rated books and 50 lowest rate authors. Educators can use LibraryThing to expose students to a world of readers. As a member of Librarything you can create a customized experience with people from all over the world.  Members are allowed to join groups that share in their interest and discuss books that they have read. By way of Librarything, in a matter of minutes, I was made aware of 3,608 people who read the same book as I.

ChildrenReading On the other hand, MightyBell was created as a platform for people to share their thoughts about their knowledge and experiences. Educators are using MightyBell to establish virtual book clubs and to distribute knowledge about books. I really like this idea because, on more than one occasion after completing a book I looked around for someone to discuss the book with. MightyBell could be used by authors to witness what their readers have to say about their work. Similarly, teachers can use MightyBell as a collaboration platform for books read in their class. Since MightyBell is a Web based application, students can share knowledge with other students any place in the world. Two teachers in different parts of the world can agree to have their classes read the same book. Using MightyBell the students can create digital book reports using images from their respective settings to help with telling their story. MightyBell supports text, photos, post, videos and links. Multimedia presentations can be given by the students using these features. There is more latitude for differentiation and skill-set building when working in an environment like MightyBell compared to working solely with pen and paper. Depending on your needs and preferences you will find either Mightybell or LibraryThing as excellent internet platforms for sharing knowledge about books.

Like Wikis, blogs, messages boards, and forums, MightyBell and LibraryThing are great tools that can facilitate asynchronous communication. However, synchronous communication technology adds another level of sharing to book club communities.  Some users of Mightybell are using Blackboard Collaborate as communication platform. Blackboard Collaborate allows many people to communicate at the same time while not being in the same location.Blackboard Collaborate allows the book reviewers to engage in a real-time discussion no matter where they are located. Modern tools of delivering course material and performing assessments have mitigated the barriers of time and space.  Mightybell and LibraryThing are two widely used internet tools for sharing knowledge and delivering course instruction.