Is Digital Reading More Difficult?

R1While we start out #reading one word at a time, we need to progress as readers by scanning more than one word. Scanning and reading phrases makes a fluent reader. Many educators recommend using an index card under words read by new readers, instead of letting them point to words individually with their fingers. The idea is to mark the young reader’s place, but allow natural scanning of phrase to happen as well. That works nicely for traditional paper texts, but digital reading, especially on mobile devices has changed the way we scan and read. Some say it’s added a few new dimensions to teaching reading, and to teaching as a whole.

schoolreadyToday’s young #digital readers need to scan not only left to right, but right to left, up and down, as well as sideways. All of those things can happen with a digital text format. Sorry Guttenberg, but print can’t be pressed in any way to do that.

Social media is a perfect example of where this is happening with older readers. That sideways, up, down, right to left, left to right, and even diagonal scanning and reading is the norm on #Twitter and with many apps. So, has reading actually gotten more complicated because of it? Is this sort of reading a necessary skill set to learn along with the basics?

It seems that reading has progressed into something more in the digital age, but it also seems that adapting to the change is not that difficult for most, especially children—and even at the earliest ages. If you have basic reading skills, such as sight words, word attack, phonetics, and comprehension, then digital reading—and the heightened use of scanning required—can be learned… and quite possibly offers more avenues for learners to engage in words, text, literature, and communications than ever before. Not only are the words read, but also students can manipulate them and morph them for more meaning and understanding. Words become important.  This 3D active reading may be the Shakespearean theater in the round for the digital audience, and for all readers that creates a wonderful new readers’ theater stage.

Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
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