Over the past couple of months I’ve had an opportunity to discuss with colleagues at LRA, and most recent have been reviewing pieces for the LRA Yearbook. One common thread that has been intriguing to me throughout these is the potential for distractors in online informational text. Now…I fully understand that there are challenges in information that may be distracting in a hyper-textual environment. It is just through my work on instruments and assessments of online information that I have been trying to quantify these distractors.
One of the elements that I have believed to present opportunities or challenges to online readers is the presence of multimodal information. Our students gravitate to videos, images, and graphics in an attempt to glean information from the text. What is not understood is how much of a distraction is this really? I learned this morning from reviewing a piece for LRA that work in reading of comics indicates that inexperienced readers focus more on text than visuals as they survey the page (Nakazawa, 2004; Allen & Ingulsrud, 2007). This thinking is extended as I reflect on service as a discussant during the last LRA conference for a session on reading and children’s interactive storybooks. Kathleen Paciga presented research, which to me spoke on the challenges of time and interactivity of text as how this acts as a distractor for students as they read this form of storybooks.
Bringing these thoughts together…at least up until now it makes me think about the challenges to online reading, and the assessment of these skills as including the time and level of interactivity that we require of students as they work online. This level of interactivity would include having students scroll down a page, or click on subpages to find information. I would hypothesize that students weigh these initial factors (as well as a multitude of other elements) to decide if they want to invest more time reading. Once this decision is made, students will read the text or visual information depending on their acumen in working with these types of information. Of course the factors of time and level of interactivity required would still affect overall comprehension of these texts.
Still trying to unpack these ideas…