Technology continues to change the way we read, and at a pace (Darnton, 2009) impossible to monitor. However, as usual, the vast majority of us lag behind, resisting with all our stubborn human might.
‘But books smell so good.’
‘I like to read real books.’
‘My kindle goes everywhere with me’ (that’s mine, by the way)
The biggest impact of the digital reading market is to publishing and copyright. As for the rest of it, readers will cope. As long as there are stories, readers are satisfied. Clearly, it would be easy to get used to cheaper books, if the digital market can keep the prices low, but when business sticks its economic nose in, usually consumers wear the cost. Currently students at my school choose print copies over digital because of the easy access. I note the really good readers who want that next Robert Muchamore book instantly, will seek digital versions, but they are in the minority. Even subscribing to Bolinda digital has not resulted in increased borrowing. It’s just still the really good readers borrowing, they just have more choice (of formats).
But what of these new formats? Most educators remain unaware of the growing range of interactive and transmedia texts, especially targeted at a young audience. Until we promote them to our students, they won’t be accessed. Students might be better than us at social networking, but not when it comes to their education. Unfortunately, they are happy to leave all that to us. But how do we locate such exciting innovations? Clearly this is a strong argument to develop PLNs, which makes us all more aware and able to share.
I am more interested in the impacts of screen-time reading than what is the next big thing (Spritz, 2014). Research (Jabr, 2013) seems to suggest that reading from the physical artefact is better for learning, but as more young people adapt to the distractions and the non-linear modes, surely this will change. Currently children are being moderated by adults who still have print copies in their hands, and can be heard around schools saying, ‘Nothing wrong with a pen and a bit of paper!’. Once this generation are teaching, what will be their expectations of their own students?
I have some concerns with the new forms of digital narratives with which I have engaged recently. But that’s okay. Questions solve problems, eliminate what’s not working and allow the positives to be seen. Really, I just want kids to read, and connect with story because it builds empathy so powerfully, and if it takes something like The Flat (Campbell, 2006) then I have to encourage, promote and put aside my own niggles and prejudice. It has been exciting exploring alternative narratives, and I look forward to continuing this journey.
Campbell, A. (2006) The Flat, online interactive e-poetry. Accessed 27 July 2014 Retrieved from http://dreamingmethods.com/
Darnton, R. (2009). The Case for Books. New York: PublicAffairs
Jabr, F. (2013) The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens. Scientific American, April 11. Retrieved from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/
Waldman, F. Maurer, M. & Locke, J. Spritz. Accessed 15 May 2014 Retrieved from http://www.spritzinc.com/