What bothers me most about this piece is the apple to oranges comparison: reading blurbs online versus reading literature. In fact, I can almost jump to the assumption that it is about those darn kids who spend all day “reading” their Facebook wall, their Twitter stream, and their curated feeds of blog posts.
It reminds me of the arguments in my undergrad: nonfiction vs fiction, classic literature vs contemporary literature, movies vs texts, etc. These either/or arguments never amounted to much beyond philosophical waxing and further entrenchment of one’s mental model.
I digress — my memories distracted me.
My point is that I don’t see the value in comparing screen reading (in the context the author is alluding to in the article) to reading books as if to say it is an either/or argument. It simply isn’t!
Like my colleagues that said reading the newspaper and comic books (oops… graphic novels because THEY ACTUALLY HAVE VALUE NOW) dumbed our students down, there were those that pushed students to have a breadth and depth in reading skills that could be applied across genres instead of the elitist tone of “only one genre and context of reading has value.”
It seems somethings never change.
Our summer pilot “Reading Digitally” focused on exploring the world of ebooks and online reading.
The experience was quite engaging and powerful for those involved, and I highly recommend others host a similar experienceespecially if you are having discussions about ebooks, etextbooks, transliteracy, literacy, etc.
Without this experience, our perceptions and beliefs become the focus instead of our actual experience.
Two Important Notes
1. It is important to note that our experience was not one where we brought together “edtech” folks. In fact, a number of those part of the process were not vested in edtech and this is something I find most valuable with any pilot I establish.
2. We used iPads for a variety of reasons, but it is the device that offers the greatest potential in the area of eBook readers with the combination tablet experience. Our explorations of other readers lacked critical functionality (at the time) as both an eBook reader and tablet.
Click Reading Digitally Infographic for a pdf of the infographic that looks at our data gained at the end of the experience.
If you have shifted a significant portion of your reading digitally, I would love to know “Who are you (becoming) as a reader?” now that you are on a device. I’ve been asking myself this question since I shifted most my reading to the iPad plus wondering “Is it different than who I was prior to the iPad?”.
Reflecting upon these led me to seeing just how different I’ve become as a reader, just how much I’ve evolved.
After two plus months of using the iPad in our Reading Digitally pilot, I wanted to hear from our teachers what they felt and thought. So, I asked them to communicate their thoughts on our graffiti wall based upon this “Who are you as a reader on the iPad?”
Who They Are as Readers on the iPad?
- I am a hungrier reader
- I am a more curious reader
- I am a more organized reader
- I am an on the go reader
- I am a more of a critical thinker
- I am a more engaged and focused reader
- I am a questionner
- I am more comfortable with my lack of knowledge while reading because I can easily remedy it
- I’ve become more curious
- I am a curious reader
- I am a (literacy is) whenever, where ever, whatever reader
- I have become the queen of “random” and useful trivia
What if this was the reality for all our students? all of our teachers?
One of our core discussions during our Reading Digitally Pilot has been “How do we evaluate the effectiveness of eBooks, ePubs, and Book Apps” to ensure we are focused on enhancement and transformation — what we’ve established as “What does the iPad do to enhance or transform learning, teaching, literacies, and the Cs: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and curation”.
Our Draft Evaluation List
- Does it provide for new possibilities beyond what it could if it was on paper?
- Does it create a lasting impression and transferability?
- Does it enhance what they do, show, demonstrate, and can do — product is key; “words are words”
- Does it promote pause and process in thinking?
- Does it expand the adjacent possible?
- Does it engage learners in the development of transliteracy and literacies?
- Does it engage our habits of reading both linear and non-linear?
- Does it promote and leverage interactive, social and collaborative capabilities?
- Does this do to enhance learning beyond what could traditionally be done?
- Does this change the way we interact with texts and technology?
- Does it promote linear (logic & predictability) and non-linear thinking
- Does it promote sustained engagement and interaction?
- Does “it expand and enhance the traditional reading experience?” (this came across Twitter and added a nice touch)
There is some overlap on these and could be pared down, but it does keep the focus on a mere replacement of print for digital. I’m impressed by this draft, and I am anxious to do the same with students.
What is missing? What is not needed? How would you shape the above?
What Did We Do With It?
The night before, I assigned each person to take our brainstorm session on what types of ePubs could be created in the classroom or area served (library, PD Center, administration) and select one that they’d like to construct. This allowed us to do the following:
- Pitch our idea to the group
- Gather feedback on the idea based upon the criteria we developed
- Reshape our idea
- Experience the development of our ePubs and share
It also allowed us to discuss the eBooks we read as part of our summer reading. Interestingly, we did not have the update to the Kindle app that allowed the sharing to social media as this would have extended point number 9.
Form follows Function or Form and Function as One
Finally, there was a nice discussion about form follows function versus form and function as one. Initially, a teacher said form follows function should be part of how we evaluate and many of us agreed. However, another teacher brought up Form and Function as One, which had us give pause. We did come to any conclusion on this, but it is worth revisiting.
What do you think?
(Image: (im)possible – 282/365, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (2.0) image from morberg’s photostream)