You have a 30 page document which you really need to get to grips with that has been emailed to you. Would you choose to read it on screen or would you print it off?
Personally I have always preferred to print off longer documents to read them. According to Marc Prensky this makes me a digital immigrant but it is just what I prefer. I have even been known to use my pen or finger to keep my place in on screen reading by placing them on, my now quite sticky, screen. I have never really thought about why I do this.
Research into on screen reading suggests several things:
- reading on paper is up to 25% faster but this may depend upon size of font and the contrast between the text and the background
- when reading on paper there are some physical things that we do that help keep us on track and keep the bigger picture in mind such as pointing to text, not being distracted by other things on the page or computer (incoming emails)
- that our eye movements differ when reading on screen, scanning in an F shape starting at the top of the screen
This christmas saw the rise in number of e-readers purchased so reading digitally is not going to go away. In fact it would be important for us not to make the same mistake that the music industry made and ignore what was going on digitally. We also need to see this change in habits not as a black and white process: paper – good, on screen – bad. We need to engage with the emerging research and discover what works best for us and our pupils. I leave you with the following questions:
- Is there a difference between reading fiction and non-fiction on screen?
- Are there some types of reading that are better on screen – choose your own adventure type stories or others that are not in a linear fashion? In fact is there such a thing as digital fiction or is it all just written in paper format and then produced on screen?
- What should we be doing with the children in our classes?