digital reading

i’ve been thinking about the literacy debate between Kress and Gee a lot lately (i’m revising chapters of my dissertation on literacies).  Kress thinks literacy is reading and writing, the behaviors, tones, word choice, word meaning, gestures, identities, etc that accompany literacy should have a different name.  Gee thinks literacy is all those things, and it has specific values to specific communities.  both theorists discuss literacy in virtual space, but come up with these two opposing theories of what literacy is.  either way, digital reading is something both theories include, but Gee’s would be a more robust theory that would include the device (computer, tablet, phone, etc) that a reader uses to read the material.

with christmas around the corner, a lot of commercials have been showing tablets and all the unique features (stylus, no stylus, word documents, moving pieces in reports, school friendly, etc) of each individual tablet, and SO many of them revolve around digital reading, what it looks like, what it entails, what it includes, and the behaviors associated with it.  one commercial specifically uses a stylus to  highlight and star a chunk of text, presumably for school reading purposes (since school reading is done in a specific way for specific purposes where highlighting and starring information is helpful).  so we’ve created an e-reader/tablet that allows for easy use in school, which opens up a huge market of potential customers.  i have an e-reader, a kindle, and it has highlighting capabilities, yet I continue to print off articles I read for my dissertation, and for other papers i’m working on.  i have tried copying phrases (with page references) that I find particularly useful and saving them to a word document, a working notes/outline for the paper(s), but I haven’t been effective with this method.  It probably needs more work, more dedication, more effort on my part, my typical school behavior of printing and underlining (with specific colored pen/pencil for ease of use, previously highlighters but i have graduated to red pens in my grad school days) is so engrained I can’t seem to move beyond it to practice a new behavior surrounding reading.  so this creates a clear distinction in how and what i read online, how and what i read on paper, and how and what i read on my e-reader.  i print and purchase books for my academic work, i read abstracts online, then print the articles, otherwise i’m reading non-academic stuff (news, fanfiction, recipes, etc), and i read novels on my kindle.  my digital reading is very much in the ‘for fun’ realm simply because i can’t get the behaviors right for it to be in the school realm.

what really made this behavior distinction stand out for me was peer editing day in my honors 101 course yesterday.  i have a Mac student who read the citation piece (‘what to slaves is the 4th of July’ by Douglass) entirely online, so he had a super messy outline because he was pulling quotes from the online version into his word document outline.  he found it more effective to do this, even though everything we discussed in class revolved around highlighting, underlining and sticky notes.  in my class before this one, i was assisting a student with breaking down a quote to more useable chunks for her paper, but we couldn’t underline in her text book because it’s rented (as is most common today).  so, i task myself with helping student develop citation skills for academia in text books they can’t underline (so my academic reading behaviors don’t apply), and I haven’t developed digital reading behaviors I can help them learn.  so . . .what do we do?


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