Teacher Review for Bookshare

Large learning curve, poorly visually designed website, large amount of books with variant functionality.

B K.
Special education instructor
Columbus City School District
Columbus, United States
Show More
My Rating
Learning Scores
Engagement
Pedagogy
Support
My Students Liked It No
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time More than 15 minutes
Great for Homework
Individual
Knowledge gain
Practice
Student-driven work
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
ELL
General
Low literacy
Special needs
How I Use It
I am an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired. I see most students 1:1 for about a half hour a week to work on assistive technology, self-advocacy, adapting materials and other subjects under the expanded core curriculum. I truly wish that Bookshare worked for all of my students. Many of my students have low vision, do not use a screen-reader, and use screen magnification. Also most of my students have reading difficulties for a variety of reasons. Most of my students find it hard to locate the log-in button, then once logged in, locate their account, find their assigned books or booklists. Then once in the book, to adjust the settings. I have to try and preview each book and try it out on Chromebook, iPad iBooks, or the EasyReader app because each book will come up differently for each device/app. This is frustrating not only for me but my students who just want to access books. When the settings are set and they try to start reading, not all books are split up well by chapter or page. Some picture books are coded where you can use the table of contents to skip to a desired page, others aren’t. Also the book description in inconsistent with labeling how books will work with each platform as well as the image descriptions. Some of my students get confused about image descriptions because of their needs.
My Take
Again, I wish this review wasn’t such a downer. Bookshare has a lot of great features. When I do use it with students who use a braille note taker, they often find success. The over all experience needs updating and attention. I am thankful that it exists for my blind and low vision students but that does not mean developers can rest and avoid keeping things up to date. The EasyReader app is easier than the website but all of my students use Chromebooks and the website has not kept up with website design. Other well-established educational and organizational websites have changed with the times. Offering a side menu with all of the options laid out in a user-friendly way. The current set up is dated, clunky, and visually hard to navigate for users with limited reading skills. I typically turn to the Library of Congress books on tape app, BARD mobile, if I can’t find a book that works with Bookshare. So much time spent from me and the students trying to make Bookshare work.