Pulling Off an Online Book Club

There’s less than one week to go before the first discussion in what is increasingly my complex attempt to encourage the internet to force me to read a book. It started with the a simple concept; Ben doesn’t read books anymore (I’ve read 1 book this year cover to cover, and even that feels like a fluke), Ben wants to start reading more, so Ben has decided to put his shame out there publicly for the internet to see in hopes that some kind souls will participate in a book discussion, forcing Ben to read. Along the way I’m hoping to gain a greater understanding of how a lot of Googles various tools work in conjunction with one another, and already lamenting the huge rift between Google Apps K-12 accounts and the rest of the Google Apps ecosystem.

“THERE’S A FUTURE IN BOOKS and a book in your future.” Vintage book poster by Cowman Publications. circa 1955-1960.

So it was with great excitement that almost 2 dozen people took it upon themselves to help select the first book for what I am dubbing Book Club 106, a loosely organized online book club. Starting yesterday I began reading What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, with the hopes that at least one other person is going to show up for the weekly discussion next Thursday evening on the 11th of October. If it turns out it’s just me and the voices in my head talking to the camera, then so be it. I’ll do my best to make it an interesting monologue, and will still know that by writing these blogs posts documenting the process will serve someone’s purposes in the future beyond my own need to become a productive academic “reader” again.

If however, people show up for the discussion, which I’m sincerely hoping they do, it should make for an interesting exploration of just how effectively you can cobble together a reasonable facsimile of large corporate or open-source Course Management Systems (Moodle, Coursera, Blackboard, etc.). I’m not aiming to make this online book club a perfect substitute for the well polished and highly developed systems that many large institutions use for their online learning component. I’m just trying to apply my typical rolls-up-your-sleeves, DIY attitude to moving an instructional environment from the physical face-to-face realm to the digital realm of the internet. So far the jury is out on how well it’s succeeding, and I fully intend to continue to provide updates, including video of the weekly discussion chats, here on my blog.

In case you’re interested in forcing me to read what is promising to be a fantastic book, feel free to head over to the Book Club 106 website, and give it a look. I’ve embedded a video below that goes over how discussion about the book will take shape, which you can watch on YouTube if you prefer.

If you’d like to participate in the discussion, the steps I’ve laid out are hopefully easy enough for people to jump in even at this late stage:

  • Read! Grab a copy of the book and start reading. The first two chapters are only about 40 pages.
  • Submit Questions! Using the Google Moderator series on the Book Club 106 website, submit any and all questions you have while completing the assigned reading. Feel free to “approve” or respond to other reader’s questions.
  • Sign Up for the Google+ Hangout Video Chat! Add Ben Rimes to your circles on Google+ and then fill out the simple form below to be invited to the Google+ Hangout.


  1. Ben
    Good luck.
    While I would love to join ya, I don’t have that book (which is something I can’t explain, given my interest in gaming and learning and literacy). I had hoped it would be on Kindle … but no such luck.
    Keep writing, though, and I hope to join you in another session down the road.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Kevin! Sadly, there are no eBook version of this title at all, which is a disappointment given it’s subject matter. The discussion for this particular book is scheduled to last 6 weeks, so I’ll be posting about how everything goes for a few weeks yet. When we’re done, it would be great to see someone else run with the Book Club 106 idea and see if they can do it any more openly than I am.

  2. Ben,

    You have some great strategies for using technology to encourage reading! I am a language arts instructor and I teach online – I plan to use some of your ideas to plan a book club for next year!

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