Nearly every aspect of our lives is going digital — how we communicate, shop, date, find a ride, read the news, do work and schoolwork. The change is inevitable.
Researchers have also accepted the change and have started looking at best practices rather than comparing the effectiveness of digital practices with the good old day. For example, more than a decade ago researchers turned out numerous studies on how reading comprehension was better when students read from a book rather than a digital device. The findings didn't slow down the transition to ebooks and other digital platforms, so now the research has shifted to finding ways of improving digital reading.
Researchers have posited that digital reading might require different skills than print reading, or perhaps people just need to change how they're reading digital texts.
Here are some techniques to help improve digital reading comprehension for you and the students in your family:
Slow down and don't skim: Recently, a study in The Journal of Experimental Education showed students recalled more information from reading a print text over digital text. Students read faster with digital texts and were still able to understand the main idea of the text, but they couldn't recall important details when they were tested on the reading.
Get rid of distractions: In Kristen Turner and Troy Hicks' book "Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World," the teacher-researchers interviewed a teacher who eliminated digital distractions by showing students how to use adblock software and to download reader-mode software so web pages look more like a book.
Annotate and engage: While underlining and highlighting text has not proved to be an effective digital reading comprehension strategy, annotation can prove helpful, according to Turner and Hicks. They suggest using web-based apps, such as Ponder, Scrible, Diigo and Notable, which allow readers to make comments directly onto web pages or PDFs.
Share with others: Turner and Hicks also found that sharing digital text with others and on social media can help students. One teacher they spoke with assigned her students to read one article per week, synthesize the information and post a summary or quote from the article on Twitter.
Fill in the gaps: In a study published in the Journal of Literacy Research, a group of 7th graders were tested on topic-specific knowledge and reading comprehension. Those who had higher levels of comprehension were able to compensate for lower levels of topic-specific knowledge by searching the internet for background information on what they were reading. According to the study, the internet could help digital readers with less knowledge on a topic because they can quickly search for information that before required more time and effort to research.