Print and online reading coexist in my personal and professional life. I fluctuate between different formats for reasons that are common to many people such as convenience, immediacy, nostalgia and comfort. My reading devices include a Kindle, iPad, iPhone, computer and printed material. I enjoy reading reviews and sharing my reading with friends on Goodreads and in person.
We are in a time of transition, the reading landscape is changing and I am experiencing reading in new ways. In the last twenty years “the internet has brought about a period of rapid, continuous technological change in the nature of literacy” (Leu, 2011, p. 6). My interactions with digital reading mostly involve web pages, digital newspapers, journals and e-books. With the exception of web pages, most texts I read online are linear and are a reproduction of print delivered in a digital environment. Until commencing this subject I had not explored enhanced e-books and iPad apps where “a text can be supplemented with media – audio clips, timelines, maps, contextual links” (James, 2013, p. 108).
The debate over whether enhanced e-books detract or enhance the reading experience is interesting and one that I am not experienced enough to enter into yet. Reading Inanimate Alice gave me a taste of what is possible with transmedia and that “when handled intelligently and sensitively – there are instances in which the embedded media are capable of creating a heightened sense of immersion and engagement” (James, 2013, p. 118). James also contends that digital conventions are no longer outside the schemata of young people but in the future the traditional book may be (James, 2013).
I am not a parent and I work with senior students so I have had limited exposure to the new wave of apps designed for young children. Regardless, I do understand that selecting and evaluating the quality of an app or e-book is crucial for me as a teacher librarian. Yokota & Teale say “it is important to develop a new lens for examining digital forms of picture books” (2014, p. 580) in addition to using the existing criteria for assessing print literature. The purpose for choosing a particular format should also be considered. Walsh (2013, p.185) states that teachers must consider whether “the text will augment stories read in books, motivate students to read further and enhance their response to literature, whether in print or digital form”.
With my return to formal study I have been experimenting with reading across devices. In my first session of study I printed many of my readings and made lots of written notes alongside some screen reading. I wasn’t confident in my ability to comprehend what I read from the screen so I stuck to the learning methods I was familiar with from my undergraduate days in the early 1990s. Studies into how our brains respond to reading on screen are inconclusive. (Jabr, 2013) As I became more familiar with tools such as Evernote and Endnote, I decided to reduce my reliance on printing. Wherever possible I am reading and annotating PDFs on the screen in conjunction with handwritten and typed notes. I am trying to bring as much mental effort to the screen as I would to paper (Jabr, 2013).
flickr photo shared by melenita2012 under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license
James, R. & De Kock, L. (2013). The digital David and the Gutenberg oliath: the rise of the ‘enhanced’ e-book. English Academy Review, 30(1), pp. 107-123. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10131752.2013.783394
Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live
Leu, D.J. et al (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy,55(1)5-14. Doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1
Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).
Yokota, J. & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture books and the digital world: educators making informed choices. The Reading Teacher, 34(6). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/3886534/Picture_Books_and_the_Digital_World_Educators_ Making_Informed_Choices