One of the clear advantages of a tablet device is the reading experience. Regardless of their opinion about digital reading before trying it, my experiences working with educators both in a pilot and informally show the opinion after doing it tends to lean heavily towards reading digitally as a positive experience.
But what about students?
Over the last two years, my conversations and pilot experience with them points to a bit more concern about leaving behind books. While they are a bit more open to textbooks (primarily, because they don’t want to carry them around), more times than not the students clearly expressed concerns leaving behind print fiction and non-fiction books.
This is why our our pilot teachers in English and Social Studies are having the students experience reading digitally on a tablet to determine if their perceptions are reality.
I’ve talked about our exploration into which app to use for a common reading experience. Today, this was put that into practice as we (librarian, trainer, and me) spent time with one of our pilot classrooms working on reading digitally. The focus was on how the experience is different in terms of active reading, and I selfishly loved being back in the ol’ stomping ground.
Our approach was fairly straight-forward:
- Break the class into three teams
- Work as a team to understand the features (Kindle App) afforded with reading digitally and try each out with their current book
- Discuss concerns, questions, and thoughts about reading digitally
- Showcase any piece a team feels is valuable in order to reinforce its importance
- Engage in 10 minutes of Sustained Silent Reading in order to experience reading digitally in context
Many of the students expressed just how much this could alter their reading and learning in the positive. In fact, two students talked to me a few hours later while I walked through our library. They continued to express their excitement for digital reading and talked about how they were finishing up their reading assignment right then.
Also, one item that really stood out to students was the sharing of their active reading notes. And I think this is a tremendous discussion point for teachers especially in English:
- what happens when our active reading can become social?
- what happens when our active reading can be shared with great ease?
- what happens to discussions when our active reading is more readily accessible and transparent, if desired?
- what happens to discussions and writing when our active reading can be capture and used as a visual?
- what happens to the pace and depth of classroom discussion with the search features?
- what happens to writing to learn when our active reading can be easily shared into social media and Google docs?
- what happens to blogging and the blogfolio with this easy tie-in to our active reading?
- what do we need to discard, keep, and change as a result of the features now available?
- what happens
As one student said to me, “this changes how I see active reading because I can use my stuff so much more now and a lot easier”. How great of a thought? This student summed up both enhancements and transformative uses of the technology.
Three days with the tablet is too early to make any conclusions, but the possibilities are becoming clear to the most important people: students and teachers.
*In most cases, I argued that it is better to empower students to determine which works best for their learning but I am not convinced this holds true with whole-class reading experiences