Everything Science Knows About Reading On Screens

Well, maybe not everything!

This article contains some interesting and useful information about the current state of the research comparing e-reading vs p-reading. In brief, there are no simple, unequivocal findings. The biggest issues with e-texts apparently relate to the propensity of screen-users to skim and/or be distracted, though there are also issues with knowing where you are in an e-text, which makes it both harder to get the bigger picture of how it all hangs together and more difficult to remember some aspects of what your are reading. On the other hand, there’s good evidence that screens are better for people with some disabilities like age-related sight impairment and dyslexia and the advantages of things like easy search, instant word lookup, shared annotations, variable fonts and, of course, cost and information density, are pretty compelling. In the past I’ve shared some thoughts on some potential solutions to the known problems with e-readers as well as on the relative merits and demerits of each technology. Like all technologies, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. Research like this is useful because it helps to identify design problems that we need to solve, not because it provides definitive answers. I don’t think we are going to see much improvement in paper books in the near future, but there’s plenty to work on in e-reading!

Address of the bookmark: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3048297/evidence/everything-science-knows-about-reading-on-screens

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology and teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems, of which I am the Chair. I am married, with two grown-up children, and live in beautiful Vancouver.

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