Friday, November 22, 2013

C4T #4

C4T #4 Summary #1 - How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension?

stack of books and an ereader
John Jones says that although electronic texts have been with us for many decades, in the past few years electronic reading has become increasingly popular. The ready availability of mobile, connected devices like smartphones and tablets, along with dedicated ereaders like the Kindle and Nook, have moved electronic reading out from behind a desk into the environment. This change has brought increasing attention to the differences between reading in print and reading via digital devices. Studies have been done to determine if students learn more from a printed textbook or a digital book. In one study of Norwegian 10th graders, participants were asked to answer a series of questions on a computer after reading either a PDF or a printout of a four page document. Both groups were able to consult the document while answering questions, but the students in the PDF group were unable to search their digital texts for answers, and when answering the questions had to switch between the PDF and quiz windows on their computer screens. Students with paper handouts, in contrast, were able to access their handouts while answering the quiz on the computer, glancing between the two. Here, the inability to search the text limited one of the main navigational features of digital texts, and the researchers themselves suggest that having to use the same screen to scan the text and answer questions may have impaired the PDF group. In the second study, from 2005,university students were given comprehension tests after reading either a printed document or a PDF on a low-resolution (800x600) monitor. In this study, the PDF group scored lower on reading comprehension while also reporting greater stress and tiredness. As with the previous study, this study did not test for reading comprehension of spatially fixed paper texts versus scrolling digital text or for comprehension of long texts. It is likely, the low resolution monitors—which were likely unable to show an entire page of the reading at a time—may have interfered with the students comprehension.

C4T Comment #1

I think you have made an interesting observation and believe that this it is worth looking in to. I am of the opinion that one can be just as good as the other. As for myself, I prefer printed books simply because I love the feel and the smell of the pages. I love feeling the hardback cover in my hands while I flip from page to page allowing my mind to go further into the fantasy world in which I am reading. I love that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see that I am almost finished with the book (although I tend to sadden because my reading experience will soon be over). However, I see and have experienced some of the advantages that the digital readers provide. One of which would be the built in dictionary. I love that when I don't know the definition to a word, I can tap on it to have the meaning instantly appear. With a printed book, I would have to either go to a computer or whip out my paperback dictionary. I also think that the ereader is much easier to hold and transport. Whenever I read a larger book, I have to manually hold the book open in order to keep the pages from closing in on itself. One more advantage that the ereader has is that it has a built in lighting system. You can read long after the sun has gone down without added use from a lamp. In the case of the Norwegian 10th graders, I feel that this test is somewhat biased in that it gives the students with the PDF an unfair advantage due to having no reason to switch between programs. The PDF students are given a printed handout as well as a computer (2 items) to answer the quiz questions. However, the students with a digital copy were only given the computer (1 item). To me, it would have been more telling if both were given a computer as well as a digital copy on a tablet or a PDF hard copy. That would have freed up the students enough to tell whether the digital copy or the printed copy were the easiest to understand and sift through.

C4T #4 Summary #2 - Beyond the MOOC: ‘Reclaim Open Learning’ Winner Jaaga, A Creative Community Space

Aerial view of the Jaaga courtyard
Liz Losh shares about a visit to Bangalore, India.  She interviewed team members from Jaaga, toured the site, and dropped in on a raucous Maker Party sponsored by Mozilla.  She shares that Jaaga is a community space designed to act as a learning space for entrepreneurs, designers and online learners.  "It features a cafĂ©, vertical garden, solar-powered sound system, and rack-supported building elements."  Jaaga has expanded to offer Jaaga Study, which allows students in India to take advantage of courses produced by elite institutions in the United States that promotes project-based learning. To students from India, this American-style remote learning can be more difficult due to deadlines that conflict with festivals, family responsibilities, and involvements.  However, Jaaga provides a place where students can go to learn through social interaction instead of the repetitive question-and-answer format style.  Losh told of another student who expressed the need for encouragement, mentorship, and real-world experience in regards to software development.  Jaaga has been a huge help in providing him with more of these experiences even though it isn't as up to date as he would like.  "Jaaga is not afraid to admit that they face many obstacles in piloting a totally different model of education."  Some people have also been working on a sustainable funding model to enable students to pay nothing before they see the value of their learning experience, although it might be difficult to enforce a pay-afterwards policy with those who land higher earning jobs.  Although they acknowledge that many of the participants are much more affluent and educated than the typical Indian citizen desiring more from higher education, they are hopeful that variants of the Jaaga model could be piloted at other sites around the country.

C4T #4 Comment #2

I think that India is on its way to creating an excellent model for what education should be like for countries all around the world.  We should be engaging students in the content that they can learn from, not boring them with the rituals of question-and-answer only sessions.  I think that the creation of Jaaga has given students an environment that promotes learning and social interaction that is beneficial to any type of learner.  Jaaga may still face many obstacles in piloting a totally different model of education, but think that would true anywhere there is true innovation and reformation.  I applaud them on their efforts and hope that they continue to strive for the betterment of the country that they serve.  As for Liz Losh, great job on your research.  I can't wait to read your next post on this continued topic.

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