Review of Bloom by Micah Welch

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Bloom is a well-made and fun-to-use program. It is a worthwhile download for anyone looking to create custom materials for a literacy program. The main purpose of the software is for native speakers of minority languages to be able to create reading materials for their community. Here are a few things I found interesting or helpful about the program.

The more book creators around the world use Bloom, the better the program will become. In the lower left sector of the interface there is a link to the bloom library page. Here, book creators may find a wide assortment of languages and topics. Each resource in the library may be added to or customized, which is a great way to quickly generate quality resources without having to begin a book from scratch (of course keeping the copyright information in the front section of the book from the original creator).

That being said, it is also very easy to begin a new creation in Bloom. There are several formats available (these are called “shell books”). When a book creator has chosen a shell book template and has chosen to edit the template, he or she will enter the ‘edit’ interface. Here, each page is shown to the left while the current page under edit will show up enlarged. Every “editable” part of the book appears as an obvious field. Text fields show up with the language of use noted (in my case, English) and pictures show up with a pleasant flower. Instructional speech bubbles show up to the right of the page, giving instructions to the book creator.

A very handy feature in the edit interface is the picture finder. If a book creator selects the purple ‘change image’ icon, her or she will be taken to the options page. Here options are presented for selecting an image from a scanner, camera, or flash drive. In addition, a nearly indispensable part of Bloom is the ‘Art of Reading’ pack. This is an open source package of illustrations. It may be downloaded from the Bloom webpage and provides a good base from adding pictures to a basic book.

Another great feature of Bloom is the ‘Bloom Pack.’ This feature is at the top of the main interface. Creating a bloom pack allows the book creator to move a collection of materials from one computer to another under a single icon. The icon leads to a ‘.bloomPack’ file, named after the collection it contains. This collection may only be opened in Bloom, so the main purpose of the feature is the ability to move one item with all books in a collection rather than move each book individually.

Bloom was developed to allow even those who are not technically savvy to create and publish written materials. It is easy to navigate the simple interface and with limited options it is nearly impossible to make mistakes.