Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reading in the Digital Age

I just finished reading an interesting article from the Nov 2011 ISTE Journal, Learning and Leading with Technology, titled "Reading Redefined for a Transmedia Universe" by Annette Lamb.  The ideas from the article are worth sharing.  Ms. Lamb calls for a new definition for the term reading, which traditionally is defined as decoding words on a printed page. She proposes a new definition:  Reading is the process of constructing meaning from symbols.

The popularity of mobile devices (smartphones, iPods, tablet pcs, netbooks, eReaders, etc), has made the downloading and sharing of electronic books possible, and reading electronic material is catching on fast for a lot of people.   This has turned on its head the idea of what it means to read a book.

What if you could access text and images like in a traditional book, but you could ALSO access reference videos, definitions, and audio if you wanted to?  What if you had more control over how you engage with the text?  And what if you read more simply because you have more opportunities to read because the content is always with you?

Digital reading devices promote new literacy skills that personalize the reading experience, such as digital note-taking, highlighting, bookmarking, and commenting.  Go ahead and write on the pages (yes, you can do it without getting in trouble!)  You can also change the size and style of font.

Have you heard of transmedia storytelling?  This involves multimedia participatory elements.  Resources connected to the story may include links to items such as documents, maps, web sites, mobile apps, video conferencing, games, and interacting with others on social media sites.  It is no surprise to me that children like it.
In his article "Transmedia Education: The 7 Principles Revisited," Henry Jenkins challenges teachers to actively involve students and put what they see, hear, and read to use.  Transmedia environments ask readers to seek out content, explore information in different contexts, evaluate ideas across formats, and interact with other readers.

Educators don't need to toss their current curriculum to make use of these new reading environments.  Instead, select those technology elements that enhance the learning experience.  Consider transforming the traditional reading workshop into an electronic reading workshop by exploring e-books, writing in electronic journals, holding online discussions, and using technology tools for publishing.

The author believes that educators will discover new ways to motivate digital age reading across the curriculum as digital content quality catches up with the explosion of easy-to-use technology, and I do, too.

If you are intrigued by the idea of transmedia stories, and want to check out some examples, here are a few: