E-readers are getting really bad press lately, thanks mainly to a small study coming out of Europe and today’s announcement that the Los Angeles Unified School District is suspending its iPad program.
The news tidbits may sour people’s interest in e-readers and cause teachers and schools not to invest in them to promote independent reading.
I hope not. Research is just beginning about the effects of e-readers vs. physical books on student reading comprehension and engagement. There is conflicting evidence, which I plan to investigate more in coming months.
The truth is, in my mind, the real problem with reading in schools isn’t e-readers. The problem is that there isn’t enough reading in general, and students don’t get to choose their books, and there isn’t very much access to high-interest books, and middle school and high school teachers don’t have training or experience in reading instruction.
I’m happy that Patrick Larkin may share a similar sentiment. An assistant superintendent in Burlington, MA, Mr. Larkin is leery of research findings that categorically denigrate e-readers. In “Another Defensive Post About e-Reading,” he makes clear that the recent European study has a sample size of just 50 people, which I wrote about in my own post. But Mr. Larkin goes one step further: Only 2 of the 50 students had previous experience using an e-reader. Maybe that’s why the students’ comprehension was inferior!
Please check out Mr. Larkin’s quick post and let me know what you think in the comments!
“Disclaimer: As an administrator in a district where we have provided iPads for all students, I always feel a bit defensive about articles and research studies that are quick to dismiss e-reading in lieu of traditional books. This is especially true when I am quoted in one of the articles.”