In an online educational environment, you're probably going to do
more reading than listening. You may do some of your reading in printed
form, say, an assigned novel or textbook, but some of it might also be online
in the form of a webpage. Reading online isn't the same
as reading in print, so you should practice some strategies that
will improve your online reading comprehension
and speed. And some of the tactics
you learn about here will help you with any kind
of reading you might do, not just the stuff that's online. After completing this module, you'll: understand some of the differences between
reading print versus reading online; learn strategies for staying
focused when reading online; and discover ways to maximize your
reading speed and comprehension.
Print vs. Online
So what do we mean when we say that
reading print is different from reading online?
First, when you read something
—let's say, a book— that's been printed by a
reputable publishing house, you can assume that
the work is authoritative. The author had to be vetted by a
publishing house and multiple editors, right? But when you read something online, it
might have been written or posted by anybody. This means that you have to seriously evaluate
the authority of the information you're reading. Pay attention to who was writing
what you're reading. Can you identify the author?
What are his or her credentials?
Second, in the print world, texts may include
pictures, graphics, or other visual elements to supplement the author's writing. But in the digital realm,
this supplementary material might also include hyperlinks,
audio, and video as well. This will fundamentally change
the reading experience for you because online reading can be interactive
in a way that a print book can't. An online environment allows you
to work and play with content rather than passively absorbing it.
Finally, when you read in print,
you generally read sequentially, from the first word to the last. Maybe you'll flip to an index
or refer to a footnote, but otherwise the way you read is
fairly consistent and straightforward. Online, however, you can be led quickly
into an entirely new area of reading by clicking on links or related content. Have you ever been studying for class
and fall down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while looking for unfamiliar terms? ou might have started by investigating
the French Revolution, but half an hour later you find yourself
reading about the experimental jazz scene in 1970s New York. You can't really do that with a book.
Why, What, How?
Now that you've heard about how
reading online differs from reading print, you should know that this has
some really practical consequences for reading comprehension—
how to understand and apply what you're reading. Improving your online reading comprehension
will save you time and frustration when you work on your assignments. You'll be able to understand
your course subject matter better, and your performance on your
quizzes and exams will improve. Click on these three bubbles
to find out more about the "why, what, and how"
of reading comprehension.
When you keep the "why, what and how"
of reading comprehension in the forefront of your mind while reading, your understanding of the material
will improve drastically. It will only take a few minutes but it will
not only help you remember what you've read, but also structure any notes
that you might want to take.
Explore a Webpage
Let's put this information to use
with a short exercise. Imagine that your instructor
has asked you to create an argument either for or against the institution
of the death penalty in California. She has pointed you to the website
www.deathpenalty.org to get started, and this is what you see/find. What terms or headlines stick out at you
so you can begin crafting your argument? Click on the different
articles on this page that seem like they might
help you get started.
Student Q & A
Great job! Now that you
have had a little practice using your reading comprehension skills,
let's wrap up with some questions about online reading,
courtesy of students just like you.
(Question) I'm so used to reading printed
texts, and I actually prefer it because I don't get distracted as easily
as I do when I'm online. So how can I keep myself from getting
distracted when reading online?
(Answer) When you read online, the hyperlinks,
images, audio, and video interactivity embedded in the text can be
a really tempting distraction. Try reading a passage straight through
at least once without clicking on any of the hyperlinks or participating
in any of the interactive opportunities. First, get a basic "feel" for the passage, then read it with the interactive components
to augment your reading.
(Question) I once had a teacher
who didn't want us use our phones to read our assigned texts.
Why did she care?
(Answer) She's probably right. It's best not to read your assignments
from the small screen of a smart phone. It's too easy to miss words
and meanings when the reading process
itself is challenging.
(Question) You've talked a lot today
about comprehension, but I'd really like to know how
I can improve my online reading speed. Got any tips?
(Answer) So glad you asked! Reading quickly and efficiently
will leave you more time to study, and improve your performance
in your course. To read more quickly
and efficiently online, try most of all to avoid distractions
like ads, pop-ups, or hyperlinks that will lead you away
from your assignment. Another tactic you can try is to
scan the page before actually reading, focusing on key words and phrases
rather than every single word. This is the same technique
you just tried out in the death penalty exercise
we went through. It will not only help you
to read faster, it'll also give you a sense
of the text's main ideas. Bravo! You've now successfully completed
the Online Reading Strategies module!
Remember, most of what you do
in an online class
will be structured around reading.
Don't you feel ahead of the game now?