ReadingFriend.com (2016a) is a free website designed to help young children develop their reading skills. It focuses on word families, phonics and engagement to reach this goal. For the purpose of this assignment I will be focusing on ‘On the trail of the snail from veil’ (2012) that can be classified as an enhanced e-book (Fitzgerald, 2016, pp8) due to its basic interactivity. The website is also available though Puffin Web Browser (ReadingFriend.com, 2016a) on both android and apple products.
One of the benefits to the series of enhanced e-books is their simplicity. They have simple animation, clear buttons and writing. The digital affordances are used positively without becoming overpowering and distracting, especially for young users. Although you could argue that the animation is too simple compared to cost and availability they are excellent value. The e-book ‘On the trail of the snail from veil’ (2012) exhibits excellent word choice in its story that highlights and teaches the word family ‘ail’ to an appropriate age level. Each word taught can be read again and is underlined at the end of each page; all the students need to do is tap the word to hear it again. Again one could argue that the story is too simple, but we must remember that these resources aren’t designed for adults to read to children but for the children to interact with mostly on their own. Although students may need help navigating to the website this could easily be avoiding by teaching students to use QR codes on there handheld devices or linking to the individual books from a school website. Another plus of this particular resource is that it has no distracting ads or things for students to click on and be navigated away from the page.
The websites resources easily fit into the Australian English curriculum (ACARA, 2016) and therefore would be a good support in any infants’ classroom for guided reading or independent reading. One of the negatives of this resource however is its lack of motivation for students. Although there are fun noises at the end of pages there is no particular encouragement to finishing the book, no points earned or exciting characters to collect like there are in other paid for programs. For the younger years this can be a large negative for students that find it a bit harder to find the motivation to read.
Users of the website can offer feedback through email, snail mail or phone (ReadingFriend.com, 2016b) but would not be suggested for children. On the Contact us page (ReadingFriend.com, 2016b) it asks for input and suggestions to the creator, which is a fantastic tool for teachers in networking, offering support and gratitude for such an amazing resource. It is important to note that similar resources exist on paid sites and applications that are perhaps of higher quality or offer more teacher support but we must remember that this is a free website that enables students and teachers to use it all around the world.
To conclude, this resource is a fair example of enhanced e-books and one that could easily be integrated into infants classrooms around the world. The website offers a range of books designed specifically to teach word families and provides extra activities such as games and colouring in pages for students to continue there learning and practice. Overall this is a good resource though not the most detailed example or highly designed. It is simple but practical.
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2016). English Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/english/curriculum/f-10?layout=1
Fitzgerald, L. (2016). INF533, Online Meeting 1 [PowerPoint slides]. NSW Australia: Charles Sturt University, School of Information Studies.
ReadingFriend.com. (2012). On the trail of the snail from veil. Retrieved from http://www.readingfriend.com/content_player.php?id=700&int=1#.V8GHW5N96Ru
ReadingFriend.com. (2016a). Index. Retrieved from http://www.readingfriend.com/index.php
ReadingFriend.com. (2016b). Contact us. Retrieved from http://readingfriend.com/Contact_Us.php