As with anything new, digital reading has been met with hesitation. Mark Pennington, a reading specialist in Elk Grove, believes that digital reading can eventually be on the same level as reading print. He says that the trick to being a good reader is being an engaged reader, and that it does not matter whether students are reading digitally or through print. “It’s pretty clear that good readers are active readers engaged with the text,” he said.
While more and more schools adopt digital readers like iPads and Chromebooks, some research shows that students comprehend more from reading print. Even though digital readers allow students to interact with their text in new ways, a study done by West Chester University found that younger students may be overwhelmed by the multimedia environment that e-books provide (which can therefore overwhelm their limited working memory) and that older students find it difficult to take notes on digital readers.
Perhaps all it takes is a shift in perspective in order to alleviate these issues with digital reading. Hillview Middle’s principal, Erik Burmeister, says that annotating digital books is actually better than traditional note-taking, as annotating provides permanent notes whereas traditional annotating typically means throwing away the books at the end of the year. Despite these achievements with digital reading tools, more research still needs to be done about whether digital tools or pen and paper are more effective. In the meantime, schools like Elk Grove and Hillview Middle will continue to use digital tools to help students understand what they’re reading.