Whether we like it or not, digital reading is now an integral part of our daily lives and becoming increasingly prevalent. Although there are many similarities between using and comprehending digital and paper texts, there are some key differences and we cannot assume that students will learn the skills associated with reading digital texts.
Due to the sheer amount of digital material, skimming and scanning are critical skills, especially as an initial means of differentiating between useful and useless information, valid and invalid content and even readability and the level of complexity. However, the more readers skim, the less likely they are to stop to challenge, engage with and comprehend at a deeper level.
Comprehension strategies that are critical for online reading include:
- Determining whether a particular site is likely to have the required information based on the small amount of text underneath a title.
- Navigating pages using links and search features as well as drawing information from sub-titles, diagrams and pictures.
- Avoiding distractions and links that will take you away from the key purpose of your search.
- Evaluating the accuracy and credibility of the information read.
- Using a range of non-written texts such as YouTube videos or podcasts.
For students struggling with literacy skills, you cannot assume that they will just ‘pick-up’ these strategies. Take the time to explicitly practise these skills with your child. Verbalise your thought processes as you demonstrate the strategy. Then, give your child an opportunity to apply that particular strategy without the pressure of having to complete a school assignment at the same time.