Thinking about Reading in a Digital Age
Image from San Diego State University Library

As the title of my blog says, I am certainly interested in the intersections of digital teaching and digital writing. Thinking about the ways that writers can use certain technologies to reach rhetorical goals has long been an interest of mine, and this fall I am turning my attention to the other side of the new literacies equation: digital reading.

My next project, in collaboration with my colleague Kristen Turner and many teachers that we know, will focus on how we are/are beginning to teach reading in a digital age. Here is the short summary of what’s driving our inquiry:

We wonder how this notion of rereading plays out in the digital reading of adolescents.  If the CCSS demonstrates an increased need for this kind of instruction related to print reading, we must attend also to reading in non-print forms.  We know from previous research that digital readers do not always read with focused attention on the Internet, and we can assume the same is true for their mobile devices.  How are adolescent readers navigating these spaces?  How might we teach them to read these complex texts critically?

Our work will be compiled into a new book for NCTE’s “Principles in Practice” series, and builds on the NCTE Policy Research Brief Reading Instruction for All Students. Our goal is to visit about 10 middle school and high school classrooms where we can see innovative digital reading practices going on.

As a part of this work, I am currently reading Jenkins et al’s new book, Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom, described in more detail in this blog post. So far, I have appreciated the stance that Jenkins and his colleagues have taken in the text, one that honors the deep, thoughtful types of reading practices that most teachers would find familiar and useful while also positioning students — as members of a participatory culture — in ways that demonstrate their unique abilities to remix and interpret texts.

It’s all very meta right now — studying digital reading while doing lots of digital reading and annotating myself. I look forward to getting into some classrooms soon to see how my colleagues are continuing to bring reading to life with a variety of new digital tools and literacy practices.

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9 thoughts on “Thinking about Reading in a Digital Age”

  1. Perhaps you can post how you manage your own digital reading, the tools you use, and some screenshots if applicable? We are going to need this kind of writing anyway, and I think it would help me (and others) to get our own digital lives more organized.

  2. NB:This post is for a class assignment
    In responding to the blog, “Thinking about Reading in the Digital Age” in relation to digital writing and digital teaching; I must agree that there are “ways that writers can use certain technologies to reach rhetorical goals.” Teachers who are in the field of teaching over a period of years before technology became popular in education fail to recognize that students are currently gravitating to computing devices. Failure to be a part of the new era of technology will not help in enhancing the students learning styles or skills.
    Technology is becoming dominant in the school system; therefore, we need to adapt to its benefits. When we think of digital reading, we think of ways to improve students learning abilities. According to the book, Because Digital Writing Matters, National Writing Project with Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks (Jossey-Bass, 2010),“ digital writing is a means of interacting with ideas and the world, and a mode of thinking and expressing in all grades and disciplines. Also it produced on the computer and shared or distributed online and comparing occurs in different modalities and technologies.” While digital teaching is the, “instruction that includes presentations that are media rich and interactive.”
    According to the White Paper, Ministry of Education of Jamaica, “Every child can learn, every child must learn.” With the wide spread of technology in the 21st century, our school system has to move with the use of technology so that it can be incorporated and help to enhance the students’ learning. I must agree that “Every child can learn, every child must learn” We have to take into consideration that every child has different learning abilities and capabilities thus as teachers we must cater to every child. One way is incorporating technology in the classroom. In the digital world, these tools – digital teaching and writing can be used to “examine what teachers, administrators, and parents can do to help schools meet the challenges of digital writing and to equip students with the technology-related communication skills they need to thrive in our information-rich, high-speed, high-tech culture” expounded, the authors of this book.
    Let us help our schools and education system get on board to reach every student with these tools – digital teaching and digital writing. These tools might be the tools you have been waiting for to help solve our student’s literacy problem.

  3. Thanks, Jullisa, for your response. I do agree with you that we should “help our schools and education system get on board to reach every student with these tools.” Even if technology is becoming more and more prevalent in school systems, we must think about how to help students create and compose their own work rather than simply consuming what has been handed to them through a tablet filled with corporate content. Please do stay in touch beyond your course assignment and let me know what you are thinking about these issues.

  4. Hello everyone, I agree that the implimentation of digital reading and writing in education would indeed be more of an asset than a liability. There are many pros, however, as stated in your post, the most prominent con would be keeping the attention of the reader/ writer. This is indeed a hardous task, especially for me. That said, i agree with Kristen’s suggestion about posting how you manage your own digital reading. that would help me alot.

  5. Hello Trishana,

    You raise an important point about how well we can expect students to self-regulate and manage their own attention when reading on a digital device. There are many research studies on self-regulation in the reading comprehension field, so that might be a good place for you to begin some research on this phenomenon. What, in particular, do you find difficult about staying focused while reading on a digital device? Are there any strategies that you do use to keep yourself engaged in the reading process?


  6. I myself have difficulty in regards to reading information from any digital device. I found that I’m better with using physical papers than digital aid. However, I am finding ways to incorporate it into my studying/learning process though sometimes still quite challenging. I do agree that we need to properly utilize our evolving resources. For in time where technology increases another step, innovative ways are going to be needed to cater to the new demands of our school societies.

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