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Tag Archives: Reading

Reading, stagnant. But book fairs are on the rise!

Reading among students in the US has been stagnant for the past 20 years – according to a recent NAEP study. An expert quoted in the article (how reading is good for the brain) says schools are too focused on reading for comprehension, while not focusing enough on vocabulary and background knowledge about what’s being read. See my related post on adult reading that also seems to be in steep decline. Pew Research tracks reading trends. A recent survey of 2,002 adults, ages 18 and older, showed this.

Oddly enough, book sales are doing somewhat better now in the US (according to Publisher’s Weekly). Meanwhile, 12 time zones away in Sri Lanka, huge, week-long Book Fairs like this, and this are on the rise.

A report by Roar Media: https://roar.media/english/

A report by Roar Media: https://roar.media/english/

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Education

 

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Please don’t ‘Like’ this post – read it

Look, you are free to not read this. I’m mainly concerned about people clicking on links or forwarding them, while not reading beyond the first two sentences.

If you got this far, Thanks!

I run into issues of young people not ‘seeing’ information in front of them, because their brains have become trained bypass information on a screen and look for images and videos. They are good ‘readers’ as the data shows. They borrow a lot of books, for sure. However they seem inattentive to information, even on beautifully laid out web pages.

Does it have something to do with our newfound desire to share, reducing our appetite to absorb, and for conversations, as Emerson Csorba says. [“Online sharing and selfies erode the value of our private lives“]

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The article for the above quote is here at the New York Times article on Digital Connectedness. Worth a read.

If you got this far, I’m flattered. Thanks!

So how do students read in the digital era? Or rather, how is reading taught today to digital natives? Sadly, in many places, no differently from the pre-digital era. I read a long (warning: long!) article in Education Week, where reporter  says that “practitioners have few guidelines, and many are simply adapting their lessons as they see fit.” Those in literacy studies recommend that we adopt a simultaneous approach, teaching traditional and digital reading skills.

My gut feeling is we assume too much that seeing young people click on topics and pages. It makes us believe that they click, therefore the must be reading. The linear experience is being remodeled by a hyperlinked, non-linear experience even while we watch. Given the powerful desire to share instead of absorb, the non-linear experience may be not as great as advertised.

If you got THIS far, I would like to talk to you! 

(There is, intentionally, no picture in this post. What made you read on?)

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, Social Media, Technology

 

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Online textbooks could be fun (or completely annoying)

You’d think I would applaud the trend to digitize textbooks. After all, I’ve winced at the sticker shock of trying to busy a book for a college level class.

But the other day my daughter explained how ‘lame’ it was to have to jump through multiple hoops online just to get to a few pages she had to read for a class. The time spent would have been better spent elsewhere, she said. I had to agree. Sometimes to make things more ‘convenient’ and deliver them in a digital skin, we hide them in confounding folders, hidden behind firewalls that even the Russians my have trouble getting to.

The goal of reading is help students discover ideas and find meaning. Not to be able to check a box on a progress report. Books made from pulp have been a ‘technology’ many want to disrupt. The Nook and the Kindle made a few inroads, but could go only so far. We humans still crave the feel of paper, the tactile experience derived from objects that convey meaning.

I just ordered a book on Amazon. Indeed I read the reviews in the digital realm, but did not buy the Kindle version. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading material on the Kindle app. Just not books anymore.

If you like to read more about The Reading Brain, there’s an excellent Scientific American article which explains how paper sometimes triggers brain circuitry in a way that screens cannot.

 

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Dear Eric Schmidt: If I may be so impolite, our track record isn’t great, either.

Interesting to see the debate ensure, now that Google has stepped into the debate on falling education standards.

Google chairman, Eric Schmidt lectured the Brits saying “If I may be so impolite, your track record isn’t great,” noting that education in Britain was holding back the country’s chances of success in the digital media economy. His abrasive comments were made at the Edinburgh International Television Festival:

“The UK is home of so many media-related inventions. You invented photography. You invented TV. You invented computers in both concept and practice… Yet today, none of the world’s leading exponents in these fields are from the UK.”

Ouch!

But here’s the problem, Mr. Schmidt. While it might be shocking to not teach CS to students at a young age, isn’t it terribly frightening that we’re not doing enough to teach/inspire students how to read? This includes how to spend more time in a library and not in front of screens, how to look deeper and wider about a subject on ‘platforms ‘ that don’t have hyperlinks and cool info-graphics. The problem is not in the UK, but in the US!

This may sound odd coming from me, because I do promote digital literacy, integration social media into knowledge sharing etc. But I work with kids, too. I can see where we are headed. Down the cliff! I have heard people brag about how their Johnny is sooo good at computer games, and loves Angry Birds, but these same parents don’t even own a library card in the home.

It is not just low-income children who can’t/don’t read. After investing some $6 billion in such ambitions programs in the US, the nation that is producing tablets and eReaders, and the coolest reading apps, has essentially flatlined in reading scores.

Time to lecture to the home team, don’t you think, Mr. Schmidt?

 
 

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