Paper books were supposed to be dead by now. For years, information theorists, marketers, and early adopters have told us their demise was imminent. Ikea even redesigned a bookshelf to hold something other than books. Yet in a world of screen ubiquity, many people still prefer to do their serious reading on paper.
Count me among them. When I need to read deeply—when I want to lose myself in a story or an intellectual journey, when focus and comprehension are paramount—I still turn to paper. Something just feels fundamentally richer about reading on it. And researchers are starting to think there’s something to this feeling.
READ MORE: Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be … Paper | Science | WIRED.
I was having a discussion about how tablets can help or hinder students’ learning with the director of my library the other day. She felt that ebooks were just as effective as regular books. Her argument was that you could become just as distracted when using a book as you can when using an ereader. She said,” If I am truly interested in what I am reading then whether the words are in a book or on a tablet are a non issue”. As an advid reader of ebooks I could see how she was able to take this position. I on the other hand could not. As a MLIS graduate student with an undergraduate in English language arts education, I am familiar with the slippery slopes of ereaders when it comes to reading in the classroom. For one, reading is just as much a physical/tactile process as it is a visual one. Like the article mentions, touching a screen does not encourage all parts of your brain to focus and work together in order to enduce a state of mind conducive for deeper reading. Also, reading for leisure vs reading to learn require different levels of focus. I will agree, you can learn when reading for leisure, however the matter becomes more pressing when it is mandatory that your reading produces learning. Having classroom experience myself, many students are not interested in reading the books required for class. Their learning will not necessarily become deepened with using an ereader to read the text. The second they become uninterested they can check their facebook or face chat. By the time they have finished the book (if they have finished it) it has become jumbled with the additional they consumed when reading tweets, reddit articles, etc. Because those distractions are not as readily available when you read a book, you are more likely to make a conscious effort to think about and question what you are reading. Students are forced to use context tools when reading a book. This is what provides for deeper reading. Yes, students can become distracted when reading book in a loud area, but if they are able to find a quite space those distractions are gone. Even if you go to a quite space with an ereader distractions with the web will still be present.
I think tablets are wonderful tools for sharing content, watching and interacting with visual displays, and short readings. However, when it comes to reading books or texts books in the classroom paper is still the way to go. If we are to use tablets to read those materials in the classroom I think students must read shorter segments at a time and their reading must be done with an explicit purpose.
Your comments are very thoughtful. I agree with you in that reading on a device can be very distracting, while reading a physical copy can be deeply immersive. I like that eTextbooks have interactive features but I think these should only be supplemental to the physical textbook and course packs of printed material. When its critical I need to remember the content I am reading, I always try to print out the material or have a printed copy. Print definitely is better for me for recall and I believe I am not in the minority. Also, its annoying having to navigate some eBooks via chapter-by-chapter pdfs.
Reblogged this on The Library Intern and commented:
This is a great article for any educator working in a one-to-one school. Tablets are great TOOLS for learning, however they are just that. They are NOT the answer to learning. If we are to use tablets, lap tops, etc in our classrooms it is our duty as teachers to become conscious of when they help learning and when they hinder it.