Over the past week I’ve noticed that I genuinely enjoy using an assortment of pens, highlighters, and pencils when reading my readings for classes. Just last night I had a black gel pen, a yellow highlighter, and a pencil on the table in front of me as I was doing the readings for tomorrow’s lecture. I typically highlight the most important words or terms that jump out at me and underline whole sentences that I perceive as important. These writing utensils also help me to interact with the text and stay focused. I usually take notes in the margins, rewriting the most important concepts from the text or jot down my thoughts and opinions about the readings. I realize this will be difficult to mimic on my computer or iPad when I completely transition from print to electronic media in an effort to go paperless.
My enjoyment and need for using writing utensils while reading are the primary reasons that I print my readings instead of reading them electronically. I realize that these habits have been developed throughout my schooling. I can remember specific instances where teachers would give lessons on “marking up the text” and show proper use of highlighting throughout middle school and high school. Tablets, iPads, and other e-readers didn’t exist during this time so I never developed skills to use them before college. Because I’ve been successful with reading and interpreting text with printed media, I haven’t felt the need to transition to using electronic media only.
Studies show students’ choices and productivity levels in using print or electronic media stem from their education. If schools do not have the money, resources, or motivated teachers to be able to incorporate electronic media into the curriculum, students are not going to learn how to be successful with these devices. Teachers must also be willing to be properly trained with electronic media so that they can both use it and be able to instruct students effectively. With proper instruction and/or use of electronic media, students can have more opportunities than they do when reading printed media. These include enhanced illustration, research synthesis, interactive text, increased opportunity for context, and animations (Biancarosa, Griffiths, 2012).
Although most of the readings I have for classes are PDF documents and are not interactive, learning to read electronically does provide me with the advantage of being able to quickly look up terms or put certain ideas into context by doing a little quick Google search on my iPad. In preparation for my quest to go paperless, I have downloaded an Adobe app on my iPad and noticed that I will still be able to highlight and “interact” with the text. With time, I believe that I will be able to conquer this challenge of going paperless even though it may take a little patience to change my learning habits along the way. And on the bright side, I will no longer have to deal with the malfunctions of the Skillman library printers.
Biancarosa, G and Griffiths, GG. 2012. Technology Tools to Support Reading in the Digital Age. The Future of Children 22(2):139-160.