Table of Contents

Reading Challenges:
The Paper to Digital Web Transition

sidebar 2 | sidebar 1 | single frame

painting of girl reading a book Fragonard's painting on the left hangs in the U.S. National Gallery of Art. This work of art helps to remind us that traditional ways of reading a bound publication (e.g., book or magazine) have benefited all for over six hundred years.woman reading web page on laptopThe photograph on the right links to a mother's story of needing a better way to find focused medical advice for her son. Her story reminds us that digital technology has added numerous and useful ways to enhance the traditional organization and presentation of information. Entirely new approaches have also been invented for writing and composing. The most common of these, the Web, in turn continues to add to a challenging range of digital reading skills which go beyond those in use when studying text on paper.

As culture inches closer to extending the widespread access to the Net by working adults to the lap of every public school student, it is a valuable moment in time for school curriculum and the continuuing education of teachers to prepare to more closely address the challenges of online reading. Teachers and students are quite familiar with paper based reading challenges, but lack important knowledge on how to manage reading for the Web (Pressley, 2001^). Though students can be more aware of the digital options and challenges than those leading them, the data available is slim (Leu, 2002^) and still emerging on how students should manage and solve Web-based reading problems (Chun, 2001^; Coiro & Dobler, 2007^; Coiro, Knoble, Lankshear, & Leu, 2008^). In short, this monograph reviews the Web's explosion of new and often unmet requirements for fluent digital literacy in general and reading in particular. These thoughts also point to a number of Web reading developments for which research is needed to better help identify and prioritize the essential skills to master.

For those still mastering basic reading skills, computer based reading can both help and hinder reading development. For those more fluent readers of sentences and paragraphs, a new set of options and complexities has emerged. The major focus here is not with the most basic capacity to read, but with the higher levels of reading features that are present once computer displays are used.

The Changing Shape of the Content

The change between classic and digital reading skills begins with the simple engineering difference between hinged floppy paper (e.g. magazine or book) and the more rigid surface of a computer display screen or set of screens. The former requires only the elegant simplicity of turning the page for more text and image, challenging its authors to follow some general logical sequence in its creation. The latter poses an almost infinite set possibilities for idea shape shifting, for morphing information into different structures, challenging authors to not only figure out the logic of the sequence needed by readers but to assume that readers will need some instruction in how to follow it. Futher, given the creative use of new media (e.g., animation, video or music) sometimes special instruction in the specifics of the literacy of different media are needed in how to "read" them and how to make reading choices using many novel forms of information display. Readers may increasingly find that "digital readings" can be an adventure in finding a narrative sequence and in finding the options for presentation. This further suggests multiple lines of research for determining what approaches work better for which types of readers.

A case in point are the reading features of this monograph. Placed directly under the opening title, the monograph provides links to three different viewing formats that provide a continuum of options for the degree of distraction of viewing Web links and scholary references. This format also provides a carot symbol (^) after references whose link causes their immediate display.

popover display modelThe single frame view enables references and related Web pages to "pop-over" the top of the single frame with the references and related Web pages displayed on the pop-over page. This single frame format is intended to work better for those who want to read with only an occasional check of a link or a reference or read without any interruption to the narrative flow. The Web, however, makes it easy to explore other arrangements. As readers will approach digital narratives with varying degrees of digital background knowledge and fluency, a continuum of options would appear relevant. New media create new opportunities and new problems requiring new solutions.

2 frame modelThe sidebar 1 option presents the narrative side by side with a separate frame for the display of the sidebar content of the Web links (for links found in both images and text, though not all Web pages will allow placement in Web frames). It provides a way to not lose place or focus in the narrative on the left side while simultaneously displaying other clickable information such as footnotes, bibliographic citations or related text and media alongside on the right.

3 frame modelThe sidebar 2 option was stimulated by readers who needed and wanted additional choices. This required a third frame that provides a "focus management" option with multiple features. It provides an immediate option that encourages a questioning reader to pursue additional research through opening a Google Search page within the right sidebar frame. It also allows the reader to "cover" either frame as needed to support those readers who had liked checking Web and reference links but found simultaneous display in both frames too distracting. Finally, it provides a means for displaying tutorial information on how to manage the options for display and focus management.


The Changing Shape of the "Book"

Digital technology is changing not only the shape and nature of the content but the container and the frame for the content as well. Readers are familiar with paper book sizes and weights that range from those that fit in the palm of a hand to larger paperback and textbook size to poster size. Readers like options. One persistent objection to reading with desktop and even laptop computers has been that they are not conducive to those who like to curl up with a good book. However, as computer technology has advanced, much has been made of the way the size and weight of computers and their specialized equivalents have become competitive with paper books. The growing interest in digital books and in the range of digital devices on which books are being read has led to multiple exponential developments: an explosion in those reading books on both handheld and standard computer sizes, a burst of interesting handheld reading devices entering the digital marketplace and even an emerging transformation in the meaning of a book shaped reading device. The implications are that educators should expect radical changes in the delivery of information to students in next few years.

Personal computer reading explosion

data & graph-ebook sales 2002-2009The chart of this paragraph (Jordan, 2010^) shows the overall rapid increase in the growth of the digital books marketplace for the top 12 or so publishers charted by the American Associated of Publishers. Yet with all of the interest in handheld e-readers and reading on smartphones such as the iPhone and Blackberry models, almost 50% of eBook reading is being done on standard laptop and desktop computers. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) reported the 2009 breakdown of the technology being used to read eBooks: 47% use their computer screen; Kindle, 32%, 11% iPhone, 10% iPod Touch, 9% each for the Blackberry and netbooks, and 8% each Barnes & Noble nook and the Sony Reader (Coker, 2010^).

The data on eBook sales in 2009 shows that eBook sales have quickly reached about 3% of the overall book sales market. The strength of this interest is further highlighted by this explosion occuring during an overall decline in book sales from 2007 to 2009. All of these figures were the results of sales prior to the entry of numerous eBook readers and their marketing that will occur in 2010, including the iPad from Apple. The data trends not only indicate that 2010 may double or triple the sales of 2009 but even these attention getting figures "still dramatically underestimate the impact ebooks are having on the bottom line of authors, publishers and retailers" ( Coker, 2010^). That is, the pressure for further eBook growth is significant.

Handheld digital reading explosion

handheld device displaying textAt the palm size level, handheld computers such as the iPhone and iPod Touch (set of images in hands) and smartphones such as the iPhone weigh only ounces. The image to the right is an example of one kind of software reader running on an iPhone, an image that does not do justice to the quality on the iPhone itself, where the text is crisp, adjustable in size, much more readable, and backlit for reading in darker spaces without a flashlight.

These smart phone systems have reader applications that can be used to display thousands of downloadable books and articles. In spite of the small size of smartphones, Sol Nasisi, founder of the publishing networks TheNextBigWriter, LLC and Booksie "estimates that about 10 times more people are reading books and stories on smartphones than on specialized e-readers. Books and text content has become one of the most frequently downloaded app categories for the iPhone" (Cronin, 2009^).

Beyond phone size displays, larger more paperback sized to magazine sized e-reader products are arriving. They include the readily available Kindles, the scarce OLPC devices, Sony's PRS-300 and PRS-600, the expectation of a tablet computer from Apple, the Nook from Barnes and Noble, and similar devices from PlasticLogic. By 2009, they all used black and white displays. Color displays are predicted for the fall of 2010. This market category is just at its beginning stages, holding the promise of further innovation and experimentation. Questions remain as to whether a specialized digital device for reading just text will be sufficient in competition with similar sized devices that are expected to appear which will have the full capacity a personal computer, or even sufficient in competition over the long term with regular sized laptop and desktop screens (Fowler, 2009^). New devices will in turn require new reading instruction on how to navigate and read amidst a burgeoning variety of reading devices.

Whether the digital reader software is on a handheld, laptop or desktop computer, thousands of book titles have been transformed into digital books that can be read after downloading to the computing device. Some initial reports have indicated that readers are reading more because of ebooks. reports that its Kindle owners have been buying books at three times the rate they had been ordering paper versions from Amazon (Stone, 2009^). Several thousand public libraries offer e-books as well as digitally downloadable audio books (Rich, 2009^). Library e-books are like any other library book that must be checked out and read by just one person at a time. Their circulation is expanding quickly with a 20 percent rise in use in the United States in just the last year (Rich, 2009^).

University libraries have also included such ebook options. For example, Hunter Library at Western Carolina University has over 65,000 ebooks available, including over 1,600 children's ebooks through its two services, ebrary and NetLibrary. Thousands of audiobooks downloadable to iPods and similar devices are also available. There are a couple of strategies useful in finding these services. One is to search Hunter's database collection for links to ebrary and NetLibrary which then automatically uses the library's password for entry. Based on the topic index, ebrary is better organized but both are somewhat dated in their collections. To find children's ebooks, search the classic catalog for the keyword juvenile literature, and then limit the search by Collection to Western Carolina University and limit Material Type to ebooks. To find other types of books, one would search by whatever keyword is appropriate and then limit the search in the same way.

Is it a book or a shelf or a library?

What seems to be overlooked is that the capacity of ereaders to hold multiple books and magazines also makes them a digital set of bookshelves, e-shelves and e-reader rolled into one. These devices are mislabeled as e-books and e-readers. Even the initial model of Amazon's Kindle ereader could hold hundreds of books. As computer memory and storage continues its exponential growth, any limitations to what it will hold will be largely irrelevant as it will exceed one person's individual lifetime reading capacity. If people are carrying around a library in their pocket and shoulder bag, the distinction between a book and a library is being erased. When the book and the library are combined in the same physical handheld entity, what should it be called? A book-brary or li-book? Please join in coining of a new word or phrase. Reader input might enable the wisdom of the crowds to develop some interesting language and options.

These newly arriving digital reading systems aside, the most frequently encountered application for reading digital information remains a Web browser. Whether on a handheld, laptop or desktop computer, the Browser is the ubiquitous reader for the hyperlinking branches of the Internet. Common browser software titles include Safari, Firefox, Chrome, SeaMonkey and Internet Explorer. There is no technical reason that Web browsers cannot be used to eliminate the need for specialized ereader software and making the integration of books, the Internet and Web pages all the more seamless. Google was the first to announce in its own Web-based digital ebookstore (Raphael, May 4, 2010^) that enabled any browser to serve as the book reader to our own digital library, instead of the specialized software that comes with a number of handheld devices.

The Problem Explosion

It should also be noted that the complexity of the digital reading environment of the Web is distinguished by a significant load of content that is both non-fictional and often less edited than the eBooks and eMagazines of the world's commercial publishers.

By examining the approaches used for controlling the reading experience with Web browsers on laptop and desktop computers, one becomes more aware of the possibilities and problems for reading in general and for the specialized handheld reading devices such as Kindles and iPads.


Overlapping Digital & Traditional Skills
- Traction and Bias

graphic of five reading skill areasMany Web reading skills are "traditional", reading skills still in development with paper literacy (Eagleton et al, 2003^), yet skills that will need reinvention and additional knowledge for 21st century Web literacy. Leu's (2008^) excellent video, the clickable graphic on the left, identifies five major areas for such work: identifying key questions, and information searching, evaluating, synthesizing and communicating. Two aspects of such traditional activity that face both paper readers and computer readers will be accented here: traction and bias. Understanding begins with actually reading the work and using an appropriate reading rate that provides traction in understanding it. Further, growing maturity will lead readers to greater independence in reading selection. Having readers practiced in checking for bias using the big three issues of information analysis also becomes critically important with Web readership.


There is no substitute for doing the most basic level of engagement and learning, that is, actually reading. The digital age encourages a more generic term that fits the full range of media of the digital palette (Houghton, 2008^), the term "understanding". The hallmark of digital engagement is "paying attention" to the content of the media, e.g., text, music, animation, sensor data, etc. Once engaged with the material, the real key is to pick an appropriate pace of information flow that fits the need for information and the type of information at hand. In part this refers to how fast one reads or how fast the eye and mind can absorb words.

Research has shown that narrative text (a fictional story) causes fewer problems with understanding than informational text (Biancarosa & Snow, 2004^) which requires greater prior knowledge of the topic and of text structure (Weaver & Kintsch, 1991^) and greater motivation (Horner & Shewry, 2002^). One study in 1998 (Kamil & Lane^) reported that 96% of the text on the Internet is expository (informational). That is, most Web reading is more challenging for most readers simply because of the nature of much of its content. For any kind of reading or thinking, the rate and depth of questions that a reader/thinker can ask about a set of information is a useful gauge of the effectiveness of a particular speed of reading. Rate means frequency or how many questions can be asked. Depth refers to the range of questions provided by Bloom's taxonomy. As it is faster to talk then write questions down while reading, asking readers to express questions outloud while reading suggests an effective diagnostic technique to gauge the readers' capacity for understanding what they are reading.

Being fluent with Bloom's Taxonomy of higher order thinking questions has multiple implications. This means the listener of students, the teacher, needs to be fluent with Bloom's taxonomy to determine how effectively the reader is utilizing the full range of the taxonomy while they read. This means that to expand the comprehension of what is being read and taught in any content area, the teacher needs to teach fluency with the types of questions formats and the particular vocabulary needed by such questions for the full six level range of HOTS (higher order thinking skills). This means that it is important for the learner to not only be tested periodically over content, but over different types of questioning as well. The more fluent questioning formation range with Bloom's taxonomy, the better one understands, and therefore comprehends and therefore retains what one is reading or absorbing.

There is a secondary or corollary to the problem of engagement that becomes more significant the more digital systems are used, and that is engagement with the right data. As the speed at which the digital computer can rapidly provide or calculate information for readers (learners) continues to increase, the capacity to quickly gain a "ball-park" or general estimate of the relevance or usefulness of a direction of thinking becomes ever more critical. Hunting for facts in data that is not relevant to the problem that needs to be solved is unfortunately becoming easier and more common. It means that it becomes ever easier for thinkers to waste their time going in the wrong direction. In common slang, this is known as "just spinning your wheels", like spinning car wheels in sand or mud, moving them ever faster but not really going anywhere useful. In mathematics, the skill in summarizing the details is known as estimating. In reading this has been known as skimming. For many pages of information, a skim (fast read for highlights) of the information will enable the reader to decide whether the reading is relevant and likely to answer a question if read more slowly. Skimming and estimating mean rapidly pulling together some basic facts (numbers and/or vocabulary) to determine if the data being considered is useful or if some other approach is needed.

In nonfiction text and online text, there are also many pages which require a different strategy, the need to read for greater detail. Once skimming has helped identify or confirm that the right information set or sets have been found, readers often scan for a particular word. The need for this type of reading is also common to general information in science, math, engineering and architecture.  This is especially a concern during tutorial or "how-to" sets about information technology. Web browsers and most computer applications come with a built in automated scan or search tool, a feature to be discussed in more detail below, that will often be preferred over eye scanning.

Sometimes the information is procedural which may require a very slow read, taking a line by line approach that does not skip lines, an approach that is the opposite of skimming and scanning. The pace of reading must be controlled by the capacity of the reader/thinker to raises questions during the reading. If question generation is poor, either the material is too difficult a reading level or the reader is moving too fast through the information.

As an example of a slow reading situation, it is the nature of material on information and computing technology to require several steps for the successful completion of a task or procedure, such as creating a web page or editing an image. If a single sentence is missed, a step will not be completed, causing the goal to not be reached. If key steps are being missed, useful counter strategies include putting a checkmark by each sentence or line that is read or using a card or strip of paper to advance one line at a time down the page. There is some research to indicate that students take a "leisurely attitude to print materials" (p. 654) but work hastily with online resources (Sutherland-Smith, 2002^). Digitally with text, a strategy to defend against haste can mean moving the scroll bar so that the text advances one line at a time against the top or bottom edge of the screen. This visually cuts off distracting lines above or below the line being read. With digital movies and animations this can mean frequently tapping the pause button. Perhaps this perspective of haste with digital materials has also taken root because of the limited time for computer access and the time pressures that teachers and school curriculum create with a focus that is sometimes seen as "mile wide and an inch deep".

After failure to read, failure to read for detail is a common problem encountered when questions are raised about understanding, whether on paper on in the Web environment. As reading environments require more detail and become more complex in the digital age, many strategies have been invented that are useful to both print and digital settings, key teaching strategies that need to be mastered by all teachers. The strategy of SQ4R includes asking and noting questions. Broader strategies such as KWL and KWLH can apply to independent as well as group activity. Reviewing and repeating the steps of such read/study procedures will help find what has been missed and help solve the questions of understanding. Good readers also raise questions that go beyond the existing content. As will be discussed later, Web reading tools excel in going beyond what can be done with paper technology, topics covered in greater detail in a later section on new digital reading skills.


The usefulness of facts and of other evidence depends on their impartiality. The big three questions of information evaluation consider whether a reading is current, relevant and accurate. Those wishing to distort reality distort one of more of those three in seeking to persuade someone to take a particular action or make a particular decision. Bias becomes more of a problem with Web information which is so inexpensive to create and quick and easy to share online where no proofreading, filtering or fact checking is required for its public release. However, the greater the degree of contention, the greater the opportunity for wealth to be used to bias that which is published, whether in paper, the Web or other media, no matter how many proofreaders are involved. Bias can be intential. Bias might also be accidental as reading something years out of date might create bias towards particular actions for which there was no basis in the present.

Excellent approaches for the evaluation of digital information are available. One approach is what might be called mental fact checking. Some great tools are available for teaching web site evaluation including Kathy Shrock's ABCs of Web Site Evaluation (1998^) and the University of Washington’s Web Site Evaluation Worksheet. Numerous other resources can be found at Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Critical Evaluation of Information.

Web publishing also increasingly provides something beyond mental fact checking, the Web's own antidote to a composer's bias, the antidote of reader comment input and threads. These comments are usually provided at the end of a reading or presentation, but there is no inherent technical reason programmers could not provide comment links to the right of every sentence or paragraph, something that some experimental systems have been designed to do. Sometimes this is private commentary that only the author can see. It becomes useful to general readership when the commentary is public. Though such comment threads also can introduce some extreme bias from commentators, many comments provide priceless correction or confirmation to the original composition's content, along with Web links to material that can confirm or deny a particular point or perception. This means that reader's greatly benefit from skimming comments for fact correction.

Some areas of bias are a bit obscure. Web search, the now primary method by which some two billion of the world's citizens seek to get the majority of their questions answered, has some dark areas that can be called auction listing and relevance listing. These techniques are not inherently bad or unethical, but like dark matter scattered throughout the universe, they greatly influence how the system operates yet are invisible to the implication thinking of many Web users. These systems do have potential for bias though that must be recognized to be defeated.

Asking a question of a major search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing returns a list of possible information sources that intends to be prioritized so that the most useful item is placed at the top of the list with lesser items descending below. This listing can be biased in two ways, one done intentionally and openly by money and the other done intentionally and secretly by information hackers engaged in "search engine optimization".

Auction listing might also be called money listing. Having created the perception that the most useful items are at the top of the search listing, Google, the dominant search engine, puts listings above even the top unbiased search results, whose own top-top level precedence is paid for by those who pay real dollars for the highest bid at an action on the placement of their link. Though hard to comprehend, Google's automated auctioning occurs at the rate of millions per second. The highest bidder gets the highest placing. The effective reader of the list must understand the different coloration or other markings, sometimes subtle, that differentiate between the two, between biased money listing and in theory unbiased relevance listing. The bias is subtle. Because of human reading style, top to bottom, readers are constantly dragged through the auction precedence list on their way to the unbiased search results list. This auctioning system has financed one the world's largest and most innovative companies providing an enormous range of free and open resource tools for finding and creating Web resources. These free tools are not provided for altrustic reasons but rather because the more Web pages and Web tools are used, they more they help drive a huge percentage of readers to the search listings whose paid auctions provide Google's income. From the perception of search engine companies, everybody who creates a Web page is working for them to some degree. Web author's must in turn decide if the free options and tools that Google and other search engines provide are worth the work. Given the continued explosive growth of the public Web, a vast majority continue to accept Google's offer.

Even the "unbiased" part of Google's search listing, the reputedly unbiased one based on relevance searching, has the potential for bias. Knowing that there is a certain range of techniques that search engines can use to automatically create a relevance search means that it is open to potential manipulation by those with political and economic interest in such manipulation. For example, knowing that one key metric for a Web page appearing higher in the rankings is the number of links that other Web pages have made to a particular page, information creators with sufficient funding can create dozens or hundreds of other Web pages from hundreds of other Web sites linking or pointing to a particular page. Google, knowing that this is being done, must create and constantly modify its own secret search sauce for determining relevance rankings that preserves the integrity and reputation for the listings which are the very reasons for its income and growth.

Google has a growing and over 65% share of the search market, with Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing a distant second and third place with some 17% and 12% respectively (Lipsman, 2010) of the search market and many others with an even smaller share. All search engines have the potential for these two inherent problems of bias for all readers of search listings. Many search listing readers do not look beyond the first ten items in a search listing and yet there is the potential need to look well beyond the "top ten" listing.

New Digital Reading Skills

The Web environment also increasingly provides some novel and some revolutionary options for reading. This exploration of new skill sets are divided into three areas of activity: pre-reading, comprehension and engagement, and meta-reading.

Some have speculated that the instant availability of Web information leads readers to jump among the multitude of branching options at every point, reprogramming the brain in ways that lessen the depth of our thinking and the quality of our reflection (Carr, 2008^). It may be spreading humankind into ever wider and shallower "pancake people" (Foreman, 2005^). On the other hand, it may mean that amidst the effort to cope with the global tsunami of information, many have not yet found better ways to read in the new digital world. It may simply be that Web reading requires the learning of a number of new skills for effective thinking that even experiencd readers have yet to acknowledge or master.


The eye movement of readers has been studied extensively (Rayner, 1998^) and used to improve the readability of books and other written information. The immensity of the Web and the richly featured nature of its Web browsers have added some new features to the reading challenge, features that can cause some comprehension challenges for our saccading eyes. These options can also make reading more more difficult to sustain for longer periods of time. Readers will find that more effective reading will require some additional pre-reading effort when surfing the Web. This work includes patroling page borders and setting scan width, tasks generally taken care of by editors so that readers never have to make decisions about them in the paper environoment.

Search: Finding A Useful Reading

The topic of comprehending information search in the digital environment is increasingly significant in a Web setting that is already complex, rich and powerful. The range of diversity and number of command options is vast. Information search is also intensely used and still growing rapidly in use. In the month of March of 2010, Americans carried out 15.4 billion searches, a 7% increase over the previous month (Lipsman, 2010). The situation begs for some higher level of analysis, for some simple models to bring a strategic approach to the task of finding information sources that not merely provide readings, but provide answers that lead to understanding. Further, the Web's interactive nature has made it just as easy to access something that can be better than printed material and Web pages. That is, one of the Web's great breakthroughs is to provide new range of contact systems that help people find and communicate directly with others.

A model for framing the world's information can be thought of as a three layered pyramid. The top or brain's layer represents Web applications for contacting people, such as Twittering (microblogging), Skype phone calling, or using the Net's databases of traditional telephone book white and yellow page data. The middle or bookshelf layer stands for those things stored on shelves, from paper items to tapes, CDs, DVDs, items that are increasingly duplicated as online resources. The bottom or hard drive layer represents the Web pages, files and documents of the Web. A recommended strategy is to begin with a search tool or tools at the topic of the pyramid, and proceed downward in order. Children and adolescents once had begun learning their search skills with school library's digital cataloging system and then the city library's when accompanied by parents. Now, Google Web page searching so dominates the scene that these and other great resources are underutilized.

Educators face a series of problems teaching students to use systems designed for adults. One of the challenges for children with limited background knowledge and reading skills is to make effective choices about selecting and staying with a specific item to read from the skimpy set of data and often higher level vocabulary that displays in a listing of search items and in the Web pages themselves. Consequently, YouTube's more easily digestible videoclips have been more valuable to our younger students as well as to the more illiterate members of our culture. Many can listen to a far greater vocabulary range than they can read but have not learned that the computer can read the Web page to them. Another challenge is to move students beyond Web page searches and into a variety of other systems that each have their own unique user interface. School curriculum would benefit from introducing and practicing the use of a small number of new search systems each academic year. Further, it is difficult to effectively search some critical new information systems let alone read them without throughly understanding and using them. For example, for reasons that frequent users of blog sites and Twitter systems understand, the results of using the search systems for each of these systems yields very different types and depths of information. This difference is as great as the difference between searching an encyclopedia and a dictionary. Each system has persisted because it adds some unique special value along with whatever disadvantages such systems provide.

An ongoing problem is the rate of change itself. Search system designers are constantly changing their designs and user interfaces. Specific details about doing a search on Monday may be changed by Friday. An example search that proved effective for teaching at 1 pm may no longer yield the same data a short while later due to updating by the search providers. Educators must teach learners to frequently examine the search help pages and the "what's new" pages to adjust to systemic changes. The exponentially changing Web constantly reinforces the concept that learners must learn how to learn independently and creatively.

It is very challenging to stay current. These three layers of this conceptual pyramid contain thousands of general to specialized search systems pointing to petabytes (the number after trillion) of information. In just the bottom layer alone, a Google blog posting reported in July of 2008 that the company had a still incomplete index of the Net which had recently exceeded over one trillion Web pages. As the numerous details of searching go far beyond the scope of this document, it is best to recommend some articles and books that cover the topic more thoroughly. One approach is to conclude that the only way to keep up with an area of knowledge is to employ a strategic search procedure for the Web which can be used to constantly update a Web site or Web page, which increases the odds that a Web page visitor can report items that are incorrect or out of date. The Story of the Information Pyramid (Houghton, 1996-2009b^) works from that perspective and provides an online essay overview and a set of Web tools to assist and teach more effective Web hunting and gathering.

Another approach is to obtain current books that focus on the search problem. Though details within books can rapidly become outdated, relevant titles for adults include Searching and Researching (Hartman & Ackerman, 2004^) and Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook (Hock & Notess, 2007^). Some selected works designed to help teach younger searchers include: Teaching information & technology skills (Eisenberg, & Berkowitz, 2000^); Quick and Easy Internet Activities for the One-Computer Classroom (Evans, 2002^); Power research tools: Learning activities & posters (Valenza, 2003^); Web Searching Strategies: An Introductory Curriculum for Students and Teachers (Miller, 2003^); Super searchers go to school (Valenza & Basch, 2005^); and Making the writing and research connection with the I-search process (Tallman & Joyce, 2006^).

Page Borders

Perhaps the simplest element of a Web page is its border or boundary. How space around text is used has a major impact on comprehension (Vanderschantz, 2008^). This is never an option open for changing on paper so readers are in the habit of accepting the display of a page on the Web the way it is given. Consequently, many web page readers routinely lose space to extra feature displays at the bottom, side and top of the page by leaving the Web browser defaults in place. Others who have discovered these features activate the extra display areas without informed knowledge of their potential impact. Not only is this space lost for viewing content, but more significantly, these spaces constantly remind the reader of options that are too often significant distractions whose links lead the reader away from the current page.

Control of these spaces is managed from the View command at the top of the menu bar in most browsers. The left side or sidebar of some browsers can be reserved for either the Bookmarks, the current bookmark list, or the History, the list of web places that have been visited. The sidebar concept is in Internet Explorer 6 & 7, Firefox, Netscape 7 and SeaMonkey. The sidebar was removed from Internet Explorer 8 and never available in Safari, as different designs were used to display bookmark and history lists. The bottom area is generally referred to as the Status Bar, that might report whether a web page had been completely received. The top of web page generally displays the Bookmark Bar of most commonly used web pages along with any special shortcut symbols the application wants to be seen. Further, and most often used, the Navigation Bar appears at the very top of the page, which contains the all important web address.

Each of these view options introduces a problem in "border loss", shrinking the space for the content that draws the reader to the page in the first place. More importantly is where this border loss occurs, in areas in which your brain needs to be focusing on recalling the last set of information read and integrating it with the next row or words being scanned. That is, all of these areas are locations to which are eye gravitates easily and/or frequently, at least in western culture as it scans a page and its lines of information. The Navigation Bar and the Status Bar, the very top and the very bottom, can also display distracting animated text.

The left edge of a reading area on a computer screen is troublesome for two reasons. One is the left sidebar option in many popular browsers. When switched on, the left-right scan of eyes in many cultures and reading systems constantly crosses into this sidebar area when it is present, a feature fortunately absent from all versions of the Safari browser. Second, depending on how the page window is sized, the critical area to the left of a Web page's window (or any application window) can also be showing distracting images and text from other windows just outside the narrow border space of the text. The distracting views beyond the edge of a screen window are a much more common problem than browser sidebar display. A simple and quick fix is to drag or size the page so that its left edge is flush with the edge of the screen. This will also feel more restful to the eye.

The reason for this left edge problem is that the left edge is a kind of mental anchor for the eye as it prepares to find the next row and the next set of words. If unrelated text or imagery is too close to the left edge, a series of problems occur. First, the mind encounters distraction that requires a decision as to whether to change focus and topic or stay on topic. Further, additional data is added to short term memory that conflicts with the train of thought from a passage being read. Third, if the decision is to stay on topic, another effort must be made to find the beginning of the new row. If a reader is a struggling reader, the problems magnify themselves. All this eye-scan behavior happens in fractions of a second but if it happens over and over everytime a line of text is finished, it has the potential to reduce comprehension, physically tire the eyes and generally slow the reading process.

This is a useful point to pause for a bit of personal action research with this web page. As an experiment when starting to read a web page or with this page being read, do basic page border patrol. That is, learn to use the the Web Browser's View commands to turn off all the checkmarks for these border displays. Make the left edge of the window flush with the edge of the screen. After a bout of reading, experiment with just one of the three areas visible, then two, then move the page away from the left edge, then display everything. Record some reflective notes over time as to whether clearing the borders focuses reading and yields better comprehension. Use your own self-study to determine how much border loss can be suffered before options and distractions take too much attention from the focus on the content.

Scan Width: Better Understanding by Controlling Eye Scan Patterns

(55 characters)

How effectively eyes scan or skim over the surface of a page and sentence sets the groundwork for comprehension and higher levels of understanding (Rayner, 1998^). Most readers are unaware that the size of the font and the width of the page help control and significantly impact the understanding of the page and the speed with which it is read. Optimal scan rates are generally set by the magazine and book editors. On the web, the width of sentences and paragraphs are left to the reader, who after all has control of the size of the default font using the browser's Preferences command and control of the width of the page through resizing features of the window. Research has continued in determining optimal line width in online page viewing. Dyson & Haselgrove concluded that around 55 characters was ideal (2001^). Later research (Bernard, Fernandez, & Hull, 2002^) concluded that "for adults, it is suggested that medium line lengths should be presented (approximately 65 to 75 CPL). Children, on the other hand, indicated their preference for the narrowest line length (45 CPL) and, thus, it may be beneficial to use narrow line lengths when possible". Further, shorter line length appears to help concentration, while longer line length promotes speed. Consensus on a definitive answer would seem to be still in development but it shows clear need for the reader to be knowledgeably active in controlling scan width and character count, and reflectively experimental in determining best line width and character size for different needs.

Is it better for authors and publishers to attempt to define an optimum width or teach readers to control it themselves? Instead of counting characters to determine the right width of a web page, a simple solution is to keep changing the width of the page while keeping the default font that is set by the web browser until the eyes that are scanning the page feel more comfortable. As an experiment while reading this text, use the red line of 55 characters above as a measuring stick and set the width of the page so that only 55 or fewer characters show, then read on and consider whether that works better. The number 55 should be used as a guide, not a hard rule, as much depends on distance from the screen, the screen resolution, the size and type of font and the ability of the eye to see letters.

pull down menu for changing font sizeAnother option is for the reader to change the font size. Web browsers give immediate control of font size which impacts scan rates and readability.The size control commands on the right are from the Safari Browser on a Macintosh computer, but the browser View menus with Plus and Minus commands are similar across a wide range of browsers and operating systems. button to play screen movieAlso see the Quicktime screen movie on the left for a one minute narrated demonstration of how to use browser commands to control font size (faster download or higher quality versions).

Giving young readers the power to set their own font size also has a hidden value for teachers. Students who frequently set the font size to what might be considered unusually large sizes are candidates for an eye exam. This features also has important advantages for older readers who are reading for long periods and/or reading later at night. Eyes getting tired? Make the font larger.

There also is a way to quickly determine character width with any web page at any moment. To test the line width of a chosen font size and web page width, copy one of the longer lines of text from the web browser, paste it into Microsoft Word, then select Tools, then Word Count. The word processor will calculate and display the character count of that line along with providing other data.

The size of characters and the width that the eye scans is also determined by the pixel count of the screen display, which is also under user control and the distance readers put between the themselves and the screen. This means using the computer's control panel or system preferences to explore changes in the screen size.

Before readers settle on a web page, magazine article or book, readers commonly skim the entire page to determine usefulness and suitability for their needs. This requires a different kind of eye pattern than a left - right sweep of each line. Studies of reader eyetracking over thousands of web pages have shown that the common skimming pattern was to work horizontally across the first paragraph and some of the second. This is following by vertical eye movement down the left side skimming section titles and key words, the pattern is roughly similar to the capital letter F (Neilson, 2006^). Readers may find this an effective eye scan strategy, but what works for most may not be optimal for everyone.

In summary, for better results, readers should hide unessential border areas, set personalized page width and font size before periods of Web page skimming, scanning and reading.


Comprehension & Engagement Reading

There are numerous ways in which information technology has extended and added power tools for decoding and meaning making. However, information technology can easily create overload and obstacles to decoding, causing students to quit in frustration. Encouraging students to work collaboratively, hunting in packs, contributes moral support and the building of distributed intelligence across a group.

Read/Writing: Greater Interaction with the Content

One of the more revolutionary Web developments is the opportunity for more immediate and in-depth interaction about the nature of the content. These Web interactions can include communication with the author, with other readers and the immediate direct editing of the content itself. This encourages the posing of questions, an important aspect of the reading process. Greater engagement builds greater motivation for further reading.

One free communication option is to find the author's email address or live Web contact system of choice and share the page or paragraph where the information seems inadequate for understanding or carrying out an activity. This enables a discussion that can both benefit the author and determine whether the information was inaccurate or incomplete enough to require change or whether more carefully reading through the information and procedures will deal with the question or problem. For popular authors, the amount of communication makes it unlikely that they will have time for the dialog, but for the vast majority of web pages, that is not the case.

Many authors now include an option to leave comments. Sometimes this is a comment box or link at the bottom of a web page. These comments are sometimes publically listed while others are private for the web page author. Sometimes the comment link is to a blog posting which automatically comes with comment options. Other web sites include forum features which create lists of email like comments which are sometimes kept in topic categories. Generally, all of such forum communication can be further searched for additional and related comments. Sometimes survey type forms accompany a reading.Authors can also create links to questions and question threads at the many Question and Answer sites, questions to which readers can be invited to respond. There are several variety of comment systems each of which will require additional or alternative reading strategies. Of special value to those making comments, the Safari 4.0 browser is the first to offer spell and grammar checking for any in-page text entry such as comments, a sign that other browsers may be soon to follow.

There is perhaps no more direct way to interact with a composition than for the reader to change the content of the work itself. One method for direct editing of the work is provided through a type of Internet based application called wiki software. Wiki is a Hawaiian term meaning quick, as in quick for creating and updating information. Wiki software allows readers to have immediate direct editing of the text itself. This of course presumes that the reader has the sophistication to determine what is wrong with a passage, and the ability to rewrite it to better express an idea, as well as improve relevance, currency and accuracy. Many different kinds of wiki systems are available to allow private and public collaborative groups to create and edit information on any topic or issue. The most expansive application of this concept is the globally developed multi-lingual encyclopedia known as Wikipedia which contains millions of articles.

All of these options have the added benefit of serving to improve the material and thought that is available to all.

Background Knowledge & Keywords

Though sometimes a new Web reading event starts with the entering of a specific URL (e.g., Internet address of a Web site or Web page), often reading begins or is extended with a search of a database of web page information, a database often referred to as a search engine. The reader is driven to this search because of an area of interest or question that has just emerged from a prior reading or experience. The reader must then read their own mind as they are dependent on their background knowledge for retrieving the keywords or search terms that will lead to further related readings. Using words and phrases related to the topic, a prioritized list of web pages and sites will be displayed but typos and misspelling can ruin useful results. Reading this search list of possible web pages then poses a further reading challenge with many readers needing more skills to effectively scan the list of choices for the better web pages (Sutherland-Smith, 2002^), and more skills in quickly skimming a selected web page to determine if it is actually relevant and reliable (Kuiper et al., 2005^; Kuiper et al., 2008^; Shenton & Dixon, 2003^). Persistent modeling by classroom teachers along with guided and independent practice will be needed to overcome the shortcomings common to many students seeking information on the Web.

Students also benefit from longer term projects that encourage a greater depth of knowledge about a topic. The more you know, the more you can learn. That is, finding effective search terms for a topic require knowing enough about a topic to find appropriate keywords to go further. This background knowledge takes time to build, implying a strategic need for some projects that build over months, not days.

Initiating or extending an online reading event is far more complex than just the idea of a generalized search engine. may be the most popular and common search engine in use for web page information but Yahoo (#2) and Microsoft (#3) provide direct and similar search engine competitors with overlapping but never identical results. Further, search engines exist with great variety in their approaches. Web page designs that encourage greater use of the depth and breadth of search system possibilities are needed. Some search tools are highly specialized, for example, searching only blog sites, chat and twitter correspondence, telephone numbers, books, company products, or different kinds of media. The variety and depth of video at is now so extensive that it has become a major destination for information searches. "In November (2008), Americans conducted nearly 2.8 billion searches on YouTube, about 200 million more than on Yahoo, according to comScore" (Helft, 2009^). Video (and other media) can teach a range of topics (such as learning to swim) faster and easier than text. Further, given the population that is reading challenged, school children still building their literacy and adults with reading difficulty, video also provides an important alternative to text based news, entertainment and information. These challenged groups though will still need keywords, but they can learn to listen for particular words and find out how to spell them to initiate searches in other media. Once a Web page is found, they can also have the computer read it to them.

As learners reach a critical mass of reading skills, it is possible that the improved academic levels of heavier Internet readers is a result of the deeper breadth of content comprehension that comes from creating and scanning search lists of greater quantity and diversity than prior forms of reading in paper. For struggling readers, text-based Web page searches with inadequate skills and resources for finding the spelling and meaning of keyword search terms words could lead to a further loss of motivation and comprehension.

Teach Limits to Skimming

Skimming material quickly must come with a constant questioning about whether the source is relevant. Sutherland-Smith (2002^) observed that students taught to read to the end of a text chunk for deeper comprehension had a tendency to continue to the end point even after they concluded the material was not relevant. Given the massive quantities of information on the Web, Sutherland recommended teaching a "snatch-and-grab" technique, in which students bail or skim to copy relevant text or the bookmark and move on, culling the list after later examining what has been copied.

Digital Scan: Within Page Searching

Though a web page has been chosen that should lead to information related to the keyword of a search, Find-movie-slideit can be hard to find a word in a long Web page passage. In an earlier discussion of "traction" the reading style of scanning for a particular word was discussed. All Web browsers come with a built in scan tool called the Find command. Depending on the browser, the Find function asks for a word or phrases then searches for, and highlights the word on the current web page. In the cross-platform Safari browser, demonstrated in the one minute Quicktime movie on the left, Safari's Find command also displays a count of the use of the word on a given web page.

The entry box for Find for a particular web page will open and appear at the top or the bottom of the content area, varying with the browser. Next to where the word is typed there will be buttons to click to jump to the next instance of the word on that page. This digital scan can greatly speed a reader's connection to the information needed.

Always Available Dictionary: Word or Phrase Definitions

One very common problem in the paper world still remains in cyberspace, learning new words or more about a particular word or phrase. New words and new acronyms constantly appear in any content area and field. The browsers and the Web bring two useful approaches to finding definitions: automated definition searches and online dictionaries. Quick access to definitions is just part of the Web environment.

Entering the Google search engine and typing a word followed by "definition" will provide a series of links to dictionary definitions for that term. Many search engines will work the same if the letters "def" are used instead of "definition". Once the search string is entered and the definition found, it is also easy and quick to remove the word definition and search for additional information about the word or phrase.

A wide range of online dictionaries are available at cataloging sites and by searching for the term dictionary. There are also many specialized dictionaries. Computer technology and cyberspace is not only no exception, but a prime creator of new terms. Paper dictionaries are generally out of date for many new technology terms. has a directory of over 20 some technology dictionaries that are available 24 hours a day.

Automated Lookup Tools: Embedded Searching

As of the fall of 2008, the major web browsers (Internet Explorer 8.0, Safari, Firefox, and SeaMonkey, and possibly others) have implemented various forms of in-page web search options. The text does not have to be an offical link. For those who are challenged spellers and typists, this is a significant development.

Instead of multiple steps needed to open a new web page to find a search engine and conduct a search or dictionary lookup for a new term or phrase, this can happen in a pair of clicks from the page being read. That is, to quickly learn more about any word or phrase, use the menu click option. In order to menu click, right-click (two-button mouse) or control click (one-button mouse) directly on a word. this opens a pop-up menu that provides a set of choices, including a choice of Web search engine or a local hard drive search. To search for a phrase, highlight it and then activate the menu click to bring up the shortcut menu. The quick search box can search the local hard drive or the default Internet search engine such as Google for the highlighted text or other search options. Once the term or phrase has been automatically searched for, it is quick and easy to add variations to the search, including the letters "def" to create a set of online definitions.

Word-Picture Pairing

One unusual use of Web reading is to use searches of its image databases in support of book and magazine reading, though it would certainly work with web pages as well. Starting with a read-aloud story is a useful place to establish some patterns and habits. As the person reading out loud works their way through a passage, someone else types words into Google's image database for vocabulary words or phrases in the text with which the reader might not be familiar. Though still functional with a standard size computer monitor, a computer projector would magnify the impact for an entire class. This repeating of key vocabulary in an image search also aids vocabulary building. In other cases and with more familiar material, such imagery could interfere with the listener inventing and imagining their own vision of the story. Many variations can be imagined and explored for this activity.

Media Playback-Earphones/Earbuds

The Web makes increasing use of media files with special effect sounds, music and speech. It is hard to comprehend a media file such as a video clip that cannot be heard. There are multiple reasons for carrying earphones or the smaller earbuds as standard personal learning thinking equipment, like a pencil or pen. As the electronic classrooms and public labs generally not have speakers, it is essential that readers, learners and course participants carry headphone sets with them at all times. Laptop and handheld devices come with speakers, but headphones or the smaller earbuds enable the playback to not only be private, but also keep the noise from distracting others.

The audio and video tracks can also be more than audio and video. Media can come with hidden links embedded or attached to tracks so that as the audio or video plays, other web pages automatically appear on the computer screen. Most media come with their own symbol conventions for control. Once different media start (or appear) there are often controller bars or tools that allow the media to be manipulated. With audio and video, there may be buttons to start, stop, rewind to any point, pause and control volume. Other screen buttons may allow the user to zoom in or out on an image. Other button may highlight image areas to indicate just where the hot buttons (links) are located. In my own writing, I have reserved the green corner upper left corner of some chapters for future audio and video tracks, using the convention of a microphone to indicate that an audio composition is available. The convention of a chair has been used to indicate that clicking the chair will display video. Generally no formal explanation of how to use the media controller is given on different web sites that might be referenced, so the reader must click to explore and experiment when they encounter something new.

Audio and video will require some way to project sound to fully open the door to audio and video resources on the Web. Many classrooms will require a more powerfull set of audio speakers than the personal computer speakers that often ship with a computer, but these are relatively inexpensive. The more powerful the speakers, the greater the chance of disturbing the class next door. Having a set of headphones available for student use is another option. Wired headphones come in different designs to plug directly into a computer's audio port or to the USB ports and would require each child to be at their own computer or sharing a design that plugs in a bank of headphones. Wireless headphones would allow one computer to project sound directly to each student.



Meta-reading is another way of talking about metacognition, knowledge of your own thoughts and the factors which influence that thinking. Web page reading provides many new problems and tools for metacognition needs. Metacognition needs include: monitoring when to focus on the text or on the media; how best to display the information; tracking a mental model of where one is in media space to help decide whether and how to move backward, forward or jump elsewhere; tracking what information to keep; knowing and planning how to store access to the information; deciding how many forms of it to keep in how many locations including decisions on whether to send it on to others as a form of storage; and determining the details of the reference to the online composition.

Information Navigation

One early and basic choice in information access is how to physically move through the information, options which include voice commands (common on cell phones but often not explored on personal computers), mouse movement, keyboard control and more recently, multi-finger gestures. These considerations are especially important to those with special needs.

Link Density Meta-thinking

The intimacy between a given reading and related documents and pages is significantly higher on the Web than with magazine or book reading. That is, magazine and book readers are much less inclined to explore alternative and related readings than someone using a Web browser at an Internet connected computer. Web browsers continue to expand the relationship between the text of any page and a search of related information. This changes the accent of the meta-analysis running in the background as the reading event is underway. A reader in a paper-based setting asks a basic meta-question. "Should I reread this for better understanding?" The increasing information intimacy of the Web encourages the reader to ask and act on two different questions. "Could I understand this better if I follow a text link to a different web page or search for a related page?" This involves a second related question. "Should I jump back?" There are no simple answers and consequently this adds to the complexity of reading on the Web. This in turn requires much more Web reading practice in making the best decision for one's current level of vocabulary and reading sophistication. An implication for Web reader training is that all three questions need to be present at the meta-level in ones thinking.

Better Managing Web Page Histories

Beyond the design of the course web pages, the different web browsers have certain standard tools to aid in navigation. The back arrow takes you back through all the links you have followed from a given Web window, one window at a time, process which works in the other direction with the forward arrow. The Go or History button in the menu bar at the top of the page will show all of these visited web pages for any given window at once, making it possible to skip a long set of Back arrow steps with one selection or jump back to web pages that were visited. This option is an often unknown or untaught feature of web browsers that should be widely used and taught.

New features to facilitate reading navigation constantly appear and the most popular ones are generally adopted by those designing other Web browsers. view of snapback iconFor example, the Safari browser's snapback feature (orange symbol in graphic on right) remembers and jumps to the first web page opened in a window or the first Google search screen. This choice depends on which location the curly orange symbol is in when clicked. The curly orange symbol only appears after browsing through one or more sub-links from the first page. A click will jump back to the first view, which can keep the reader from getting sidetracked and sometimes disconnected from the initial reading goal. Clicking on browsing history could be used in place of "snapback" but the history list includes every window opened, not a particular window.

Link Finding and Following

The reader therefore faces certain challenges in working with the information display capabilities of the web. When should the reader interrupt the flow of the narrative on one web page to jump to another narrative on another web page? There are no firm rules in answering this question. As a general habit when reading web text, I encourage reading to the end of the web page, that is until the page can be scrolled no further. Next, start from the top and skim back through the material to find links to other information that may be of interest. But which cross-references are essential and which are optional? Beyond the color coding of chapter links, I use text statements to clearly spell out in imperative language (e.g., click, read or study, do, skim, or optional) which links must be followed in what way to complete the required chapter material and which links are optional.

But how does one know what is a link and what is not? Historically, the concept of linking began with in paper technology with text citations, footnotes and bibliographies. We train readers that use cellulose technology to know the meaning of footnote and other citation marks and to know that they must make a physical or online trip to the library to read what the footnote or bibliography referenced. To what extent do we need to formally train readers to find the cross-reference links in web mediated environments?

Cross-references on the web are often immediately available, but some education on how to use them is certainly beneficial. When is something a link in this online textbook? All the text links in the chapter web pages use underlined bright blue and underlined purple links. Further, I generally stay with the original Web standard for visited links; the bright blue means that the reader has not taken the link yet while the purple means that the computer recognizes that this page was visited recently at that computer. Not all web page authors use this system for identifying links. It is also possible for the reader to change this color convention using defaults within their own web browser (e.g., Netscape or Internet Explorer). When the chapter links direct you to the web sites of others, different rules may apply for how text links look. Increasingly the link references across the web have become more subtle, using lighter colors for the text without the underlining or a wide range of color changes to indicate that the reader has been to the cross-referenced site. Because of these more subtle changes, merely looking at a web page no longer tells the reader for certain whether the colored text means a  link or has another meaning or not. Increasingly readers must be using their screen pointer (cursor) to slide over colored text to see if the screen pointers turns into a hand or some other pointing symbol to indicate that this is a cross-reference (hypertext link) to other information.

Media Links

As previously indicated, the digital language of linking has gone far beyond text links. Not only can every form of media be embedded alongside text within a web page, but links to other information can be embedded in many kinds of media. This means that not only must the reader work through an understanding of the text of the page and its links, but the reader might also need to create an understanding of an embedded video clip which is placed next to the text which opened additional web pages as it played or used an additional space below the video clip. Which should come first, reading the text or other media on the page? Does one read the text first or click on the more obvious media links first or click the media links in the order they come in the text? When you read a magazine article on paper, do you look at the pictures first or the text? Here readers have to follow there own needs and logic in making such decisions.

The media embedding occurs in a variety of ways. If an entire image has a colored border, this can mean that clicking the image jumps to other information, but the image may not have such a border. Increasingly, there is no color border so again the reader must use the screen pointer to slide over the image to find out whether it changes from the standard pointer to something like a hand to indicate that a link (jump) is possible. It is also possible to have different areas of an image or 2D or 3D object be linked (hotlinks) or not. Merely sliding the cursor around one part of still image may show nothing, but other areas will indicate the presence of a link by turning from a pointer to a hand. Other media, including audio, 2D animation and video can including a web track so that as it media plays, web pages appear or popup as the player reaches particular points in the playback. In addition all of these forms of media and more can inhabit the same web page. Further one of the media forms that can be embedded is the book itself. As examples, enjoy reading from the embedded book example below,a preview of the 2004 Caldecott Award winner, The Man who Walked Between the Towers. Note the page controller at the top right of each book.

The Man who Walked Between the Towers

This is a children's book by Mordicai Gerstein which won the 2004 Caldecott Medal for children's stories.

For a book whose full text is online, instead of just selected pages, see The Heart of the Internet. For directions on how to use the code to embed books in web pages, see Google's Embedded Viewer API: Developer's Guide. The Heart of the Internet addresses longer term issues in the use of the Internet including challenges to privacy and to intellectual and political freedom. Use Google Books to find more titles of interest at

Web Browser Page Turning: Replace, Tabbed or New Window

scroll control and iconsIt can be wonderful to simply turn the paper page without making a decision from a range of choices about how to display the next set of information. The Web choices, though do provide a new range of reading power. The above Caldecott Award winning book uses its own built-in reader navigation system, a direct simulation of turning the page in a paper book. Web browsers have a different set of options. Web browsers work with the right edge scroll bar to move forward or backward in a set of information on a Web page. In the graphic on the right, the blue rectangles pointing at the empty space above and below the scroll slider mean that clicking above or below the slider moves the page display one screen page in that direction. If the slider in the green rectangle or the bottom arrows in the green rectangle are used, the reader advances one line of text at a time, the former less fatiguing to the eyes and the latter faster but requiring more active skimming. In short, a Web page is a Web document or file, not a single paper page, that must be actively navigated.

right click link menuAny document is related to or descended from other compositions. Said another way, any reading is really part of a cloud of related readings. To make such "clouds" more accessible, the Web designers invented the link. The practice of linking both enhances the reading process and potentially distracts the reader. To browse the Web is to click on a link to read the next Web file or a new page or display of information. The classic or standard event upon clicking a link is to replace the existing web page with a new page of information. But there are other better options which allow the reader to keep the current page in computer memory immediately available while opening a new or adjacent window.

By right-clicking on a link, two new choices (see image on left) appear in a menu, New Window or New Tab. Each possibility has advantages and disadvantages. One more option in this menu, "This Frame", provides a further submenu for web page management when multiple web pages are combined into the same window. Through much practice in trying such commands as opportunity allows, readers will work out better decisions for managing the information flow.

As the click of each link replaces a Web page with the next page of data, this creates a long history of web pages making it harder to return to a place of interest, as the prior pages are no longer visble nor in computer memory. Having a new tab appear in the same window or frame instead of a new window reduces screen clutter. this also makes it easier to return to prior information. Dragging on the tabs also allows the reader to change the sequence of the tabs. However, if many tabs have been created, the current tab open will provide the window name or bookmark title, when looking at a list of minimized windows.

Web pages commonly include many links to related references. Such links off a web page can be distracting to staying on the track of a particular thought. Though perhaps better to ignore links until a second read through the page, a help to staying on track is the right-clicking links to activate the "Open in New Tab" feature. That is, as each tabbed page is added to the right of the existing web page in the tab bar, it does not remove or replace the page being read. After the reading of the current page has finished, the tabbed collection of pages can be explored as needed. This can reduce distraction while Web reading.


Media Presentation: Frame, Pop-Out Pages and Outloud Reading

There are multiple options for how information can be presented, options which the reader must sift through metacognitively while their reading is underway. This includes framesets, pop-out and popover features, and outloud reading.

Whenever frame page design is used, the overall display area is actually made of two or more separate web pages. Frame pages are a design tool that allows different web pages to appear in the same browser window. This is a powerful and useful design with some special power user features that should be more widely known.  The most important is that the web page in any single frame cell of the web display can be popped out under user control and become a separate web page. Try it on the frame pages in chapter one. On a Mac computer, click and hold down the mouse button in the left column of links until the list of commands appears in a second or two. Select the command that open the frame in a new page. The web page embedded in that frame opens as a separate web page. On a Windows computer, right click on a link within the left frame column or the right frame and a list of commands appears. Select the command that opens the frame in a new page. Either way, the web page embedded in that frame opens as a separate web page. The web page will not have a functioning back arrow, a further reminder that the page is to be closed when finished to show the originating page behind it. This "pop-out" procedure also makes it not only possible to accurately specify the printing of any particular web page where necessary or useful, but to see and/or bookmark the precise web page address of that page. Further, the frame boundaries are often resizeable. Move the screen cursor along the edge of a frame, and it it turns into a double arrow, you can click and drag that edge to make more space appear on one or the other side of two frames.

At other times a new window will form or pop open over the top of this assignment window automatically when a link is clicked. That is, as web page designer, instead of waiting for the reader to decide that for some uses a page in a frame cell will display better as a large independent page, the composer can force a page to not stay in the frame when a link is clicked and instead have it appear in a new page.  If you finish studying and close the new window that popped open, the window that it came from will still be there to remind you of any next steps.

Outloud reading means that the computer can translate the words into speech and read a Web page outloud. This feature is sometime built in to the Web browser, such as Safari for the Macintosh and Windows computer. In Safari, highlight the text to be spoken, then click Safari in the menu bar and select Services. From services, select Speech and Start Speaking Text. The speaking of text can also be a feature of the operating system, and sometimes requires that a special application be downloaded to handle it.


A Personal Library: Bookmarks, File Storage, Reference Capture and Management

shelf of booksA bookmark, a piece of paper sticking out between the pages of a book is an elegantly simple device for returning to favorite ideas and passages in readings, yet of seemingly marginal relevance to reading or life. In fact, it deserves a much deeper look. Teachers and librarians use them as not only fun devices to help students remembering their last reading location, but also as memory devices, as commercials and reminders for many ideas and reading and research activities (Brodie, Goodrich, & Montgomery, 1996^). This capacity to return to sets of ideas is a far more fundamental element of human intelligence and the advancement of civilization than the humble and cheap nature of bookmarks might imply. Setting multiple bookmarks to particular locations is a highly personal and individually distinctive element that maintains both a significant concrete and psychological connection between the reader and the article or book. To place a bookmark is a self-defining moment. It may be one of the most overlooked and underutilized elements of reading pedogogy. For those that would encourage others to value reading, liberally used and more permanently stationed bookmarks strengthen the bonds between composer and reader. Used properly they add further to the meta-analysis of ideas by accenting a search for gems, by glorifying the hunt for moments of peak quality and high relevance. These delightful acts of discovery, recognition and marking then open the door to encouraging the sharing of the gems with others. This social activity then further embues the bonds of thought and the bonds of a people with a sense of caring not just for ideas but for cherishing the unique perspective and value that another person characteristically adds during the experience. The Web and its system for digital bookmarks has allowed educators to extend the idea of bookmarks into new and interesting territory. This territory includes encouraging bookmarks in general as well as enabling bookmark sets, more global social bookmarking and personal library building.


Bookmarks provide a strategic solution to a common social weakness which views the classroom as the fundamental place for a child's learning, which celebrates the absence of a child or adolescent from that space and from learning with the shout of "school's out". Learning is an act of the mind not an act of geography, a lesson that the explosion of digital handheld devices is perhaps happily re-teaching to the families of the more perceptive. Though there is seldom room in a classroom for each student to have their own growing shelf of ideas to which they can contribute their own unique and intrinsically rewarding signature of thought, there is often enough space for each child to have a few. In turn this would mean that each child can build their own bookmarks to share with others. Where bookmarks are cherished, it also means that breaks from sitting in classrooms, such as holidays and summer vacation could be seen as periods to accumulate more personal bookmark treasures to share when back in class. As the world accelerates to a "never stop learning" economy, this would be an important lifetime intellectual habit to acquire. Digital bookmarks in Web browsers have taken this idea of bookmarks a little further and in a different direction.

It would be ideal for students of all ages to see digital bookmarks as a direct extension to the concrete and tactile value of paper bookmarks in paper books, to have and use both, letting each reinforce the other. However, too many economically and intellectually poor school students lack this luxury of owning even a small shelf of books at home as their own personal library into which they can put bookmarks to favorite and useful parts. The Web and its digital bookmarking system creates an opportunity for those without bookshelves of books and magazines to carry an enormous set of bookmarks connected to bookshelf in their pocket, and to do so quite cheaply. Tomaiuolo's book on (2004^) Building a World Class Personal Library provides some idea of the richness of this capacity. Of course opening this bookshelf will mean having access to a computer but Internet access can be optional depending on how the digital library is built. The bookmarks can point to references that stay on the Internet. The bookmarks can also point to files of text and media that have been downloaded and saved to a Flash drive. Some combination of both types of pointing can be used depending on how often the child has access to a computer on the Net. For children on the wrong side of the social and digital divide, this concept can also have an enormous impact on self-concept, self-esteem and attitude about schools and learning.

The idea of bookmarks is being extended even further by e-readers and handhelds and other software designed to support reading on larger computers. A Web browser bookmark generally only takes the viewer to the beginning the composition, unless the author has intentionally put multiple submarkers within the creation. This is not difficult to do, just not yet commonly done. However, these new digital books are embedded in software that allows multiple bookmarks to not only tag individual pages but individual lines within a book, bookmarks that do not need to be erased. These marks can include annotations and other elements that increase the bond between one mind and that of another.

The Bookmark Library - Internet Storage

Humans have been building libraries and losing libraries to various disasters from the dawn of recorded human history (Baker, 2001; Basbanes, 2003; Battles, 2004; Polastron, 2007). In both paper and digital technology, a bookmark is a pointer to a place within the flow of a particular reading. It is the beginning point of building a library. It pulls us back from the work to ask whether the item deserves capture and quicker reference to it in the future. The Web browsers called Firefox, Safari, Netscape, and SeaMonkey call them Bookmarks. Internet Explorer calls them Favorites. The term bookmark will be used here to mean both. Whatever the title, clicking on the screen symbol or name for bookmark puts the title of the bookmark on a pull-down list of other bookmarks. Web bookmark collections are really like personal libraries of books and magazines that we keep on our virtual shelves. We have reached the age of the personal pocket library.

These bookmarks are in reality contained in a single file on the computer, a file that can be transmitted and copied at will. Not only is it easy to store bookmarks, but the development of the ebook and emagazine market means that we'll be buying and storing far more than digital bookmarks. This raises new concerns and new solutions. Fortunately, it's a little harder to lose digital information when you can back it up in multiple copies in multiple places. The concern over losing our digital heritage has led to snapshots being taken of the entire Internet every two months or so. This requires massive storage facilities holding petabytes of data, making data farms the newest form of library in the 21st century (WaybackMachine, 2010). However, for individuals, storage and backup has become easy and simple. The capacity of various pocket data storage devices are heading beyond the lifetime reading of even the most aggressive readers.

flash drive held in fingersStorage devices such as the Flash drive shown on the left, should be thought of as another kind of bookshelf or library of reading material. Digital bookmarks provide an easy opportunity for readers to create their own 21st century personal library which can be organized and reorganized as often the reader likes. In this way, the digital library can be taken with readers and added to where ever they go. Building this Web library to whatever size needed can mean including the multitude of free materials on the Web, those behind a password for which an account is available, and those files downloaded to a folder on the local storage device. In this way, teachers can help readers organize and revisit significant amounts of reading material that are relevant to their own current interests and come back to resources and favorites encountered long ago. As the price drops and storage capacity of such devices increases, there would seem to be no limit to the size of a library that a person might personally carry in their fingers or pocket. What's in your fingertip library?

Several powerful features can be applied to this list of bookmarks: 

  1. This list of the browser's favorites or bookmarks can be further organized into named folders with personal comments and keywords (tags) for each bookmark. 
  2. Bookmarks can travel with you and be added to, expanded and edited in other ways while at any Internet connected computer. A list of bookmarks can be exported as a file and saved to a USB drive or other form of data storage. Then this set of bookmarks can be imported into another computer by moving the drive with the bookmark file to another computer and using the browser's Import command.
  3. Digital bookmarks can also be stored online and search by others, a concept called social bookmarking.

Social Bookmarking

Bookmarks can also be stored online instead of on a local drive. There are numerous online bookmarking services. Your bookmarks can be uploaded to a web server for free and stored, edited, changed and re-organized. Your bookmark list can be private or public. Of course, if it is public then students, peers and colleagues can get at it. This can save a great amount of typing time when you take a class to the computer lab, especially with slower typing elementary students. The great advantage of putting your bookmarks online is that you can have your favorite bookmarks available to you or others from any computer connected to the Internet. The online lists can also be imported into any computer's browser. Where these lists can be shared among groups, this sharing is referred to as social bookmarking.

Bookmarks can have associated terms added to them, sometimes called tags, that create a topic or category within your own study and learning, making it easier to find the item again or to pull together a collection of references on the same topic.

Try these online services and references in the table below. The first four under "Selected Sites" are the first four provided at the bottom of a reference when using Google Scholar. Expect that increasingly search and reference systems with an academic focus will allow the collected references along with their tag clouds to be exported to writing and bibliography applications. For example Google Scholar's Advanced Preferences includes a Bibliography Manager with direct choices for exporting a reference with its citation information into the applications of BixTex, RefMan, EndNotes, and Refworks. (For example, Western Carolina University supports the Refworks application for which its students, staff and faculty can register for their own accounts.) It is also important to understand the difference between storing a bookmark and storing a reference in a bibliography. For example, how does the data stored with a Delicious bookmark compare to Refworks storage? What is the procedure for doing each?

Selected Sites Indexes to Online Bookmarking Services Bookmark Service Tutorials and Ratings
  • CiteULike
  • BibSonomy
  • Connotea
  • Delicious
  • Mybookmarks
  • Backflip 
  • Google's Directory for bookmarking 
  • Yahoo's Index for bookmarking 
  • Bookmark Management Tutorial 
  •  No current ratings have been found. 
  • Of equal importance, Google Scholar's Advanced Preferences enable the designation of a particular home library with its already paid access to full text article services. As Google Scholar returns a search, it will flag any hits with a special notice (Find Online at WNCLN) that the article can be read in full through the local library account. To enable this feature, the name of the university or college must be typed in after the heading of Library Links. For example, once this is set, grey text under this box indicating the full text provider chosen by the campus appears, "Western Carolina University - Full Text@IngentaConnect".

    The Bookmark Library - Local Information File Storage

    Tracking information location for future access by bookmark or web site map leaves the information file (text or other media) at whatever location it was found. This is a great convenience and sometimes necessary because of copyright reasons. However, sometime the information moves around within or is deleted from a Web site and sometimes future rereading may need to occur without Internet access. Squirrels don't really trust that an acorn will be where it falls when they become hungry again, hence the "squirrel away" phrase. Readers often need to pause to consider how important a Web composition is to them and whether it is technically or legally possible to squirrel away the text or media to their computer or storage device. That is, copy the data and save it. Further, bookmarks can be made to more than just Web pages and Internet files. Bookmarks can also be made to anything stored in a folder on a drive.

    Squirrels also spend a fair amount of time hopping around the snow in the winter trying to find a buried acorn. Readers will have the same problem with files and so must be careful about the file and folder names created when files are copied to their data storage systems. Catalogers are the unsung heros of libraries that keep them organized so that a wide range of people can find resources within them. This is not a process to be taken lightly. Done well, it means taking the time to thoughtfully process where and how things will be stored.

    The saving grace though for those who spend less time on organization are the built-in indexing systems of current computer operating system. On the Macintosh computer's this indexing system and its retrieval features are referred to as Spotlight. Google also provides a free download of an excellent full text indexing application for Windows XP computers and Windows Vista builds in the technology calling it Instant Search. Every word of every file and folder name and the contents of every file are indexed. This creates an enormously powerful resource for searching a computer's hard drive or external storage devices but the effectiveness of this search is greatly increased by thinking about how to tag a document by file name or comment that go beyond the words in the content of the document or file. Some quick and simple steps can greatly increase the value of this automated indexing. Many do not realize that comment boxes are available for all computer files, boxes into which keywords can be added. Such text referencing is also referred to as metadata or metatags. On a Mac, the Get Info command can be used on any file. On a Windows computer, the Properties command can be used. Each opens a small dialog box which contains a place to type keywords, phrases are sentences that are likely to be used in further searches of your hard drive to retrieve this information.

    As many adults are unfamiliar with these features or do not practice them, teaching such meta-skills will require some specialized professional development and then a bit of classroom modeling and practice in order for students to acquire the skill and the habit. The potential though is enormous. It is within range of today's child to carry in their small pockets a personal library that could include every bit of information that they see, hear and read in their lifetime, one whose full index is automatically updated everytime something new is added. What's in your library?

    Indexing Your Personal Library of Books

    The virtual library of bookmark data can also co-exist with a digital database from one's personal bookshelves. There is a class of software that can be used to automate the creation of a digital catalog of every book that has been bought and put on your shelf. One of these personal library indexing programs is called Delicious Library. Competitors include MediaMan and GCstar. When such applications are running, a new book can be held up to a computer's webcam which will read the media's barcode, whether book, CD, DVD or game. The application then searches the Internet for the book title and all kinds of related information from ratings to synchronize with the operating systems own indexing system. It puts that in a database record that includes the picture of the book. We are close to the point at which Google's Book Search can be combined with such personal library indexing programs so that a search of the personal library data will send a search to the Web to search every word of every book stored on your book shelves for the elusive passage and page number for which the title can no longer be recalled.


    Reader/Writer Worktable or Workbench- Create & Display Bookmark Sets

    Simple questions sometimes require reading just a single article or Web page to find the answer. This would be typical for the bottom of Bloom's taxonomy of higher order thinking skills, recall type questions. Harder questions and problems often require thinking from a set of related readings. The more challenging questions require a place to hold the thinking and ideas that result.

    writing desk-multiple books open and aroundPutting a set of useful resources together in one place for thinking and creating is sometimes described by the ideas of writing desk, worktable or workbench. That is, when thinking about a topic, a set of relevant books and media along with composition tools are pulled off library shelves and placed in some manner on the reading and writing desk, similar to the picture on the left. Some are open with contents readily visible. Others are closed but available immediately. With recent developments in Web page design there is now a parallel to this line of thinking with Web pages. A single bookmark click can activate not only the display of one Web page, but an entire set of relevant Web pages for writing and for reading with some pages in view and others available with a single click. A "workbench" of related readings and Web sites for some can be brought to the surface in a moment's notice.

    To explain a "tab set" will require some unpacking of the Web browser image to the right.screen shot of bookmark bar and set of bookmark tabs That is, the above picture of a work desk in the previous paragraph represents a similar idea to the tab-set of web pages shown on the right in this paragraph. The first row in the image is the Bookmark Bar and the green circled item is a tab set. It was clicked to open the tabbed set of web pages in the second row. The green circled tab set button in the first row can be thought of as a kind of automated butler that is summoned with a click to put a set of readings on a study table. The second row of the picture on the right can be thought of as a stack of books and articles. It is also impotant to note that these tabbed Web pages do not have to totally reside on the Web. They might be Web pages downloaded and stored in some folder at the local computer. The Web environment can use tabbed browsing to put together a collection of works which are needed or useful for a particular reading activity, and writing can be included in the tabs as well.

    But when is a single bookmark sufficient and when is a set of bookmarks useful? When the problem or question is more challenging, requiring more higher order thinking skills and more study, it is important to learn to manage tabbed Web pages. That is, a single Web browser window can have a set of tabs, with each tab representing a different Web page. The order of these tabs can be changing by dragging the tab left or right. A tab can also be dragged out of one window to another open window and added to another set of tabbed Web pages. The rectangular red and blue borders above surround the headings for the tabs. The red tab is the current Web page in view, one that opens to a blog site for the writing of ideas. Those tabs in the blue border are pages that were selected for further reading and study.

    Using some strategy in organizing these tabs will provide more efficient reading and lead to better bookmark sets. One effective strategy is to start with the tab for the search page as the first tab. Right clicking links in the search page can be used to open new tabs to the right of the search page. Then, as thinking from the multiple tabs of readings begins to yield ideas that need to be recorded, a new tab might be opened to a Web writing area and the writing tab moved to the far left. That is what is shown in the example above. Keeping any writing and search Web pages on the left makes it easy to return from further related tabs on the right. The writing tab page might also be a wiki page that is being created or edited, a Web to-do site in which ideas are being collected, organized and sequenced or any other of other Web composition formats including Web spreadsheet and slideshow applications. The composition area might also be a separate word processing window that is next to the tabbed Web pages.

    Sometimes a tabbed page will need to be separated from its tab family and appear in its own independent window. This would be similar to pulling a couple of books from a stack of works and opening them both. Sometimes a tabbed page will become important enought or different enough to need to bud off and be a primary page for a new set of web pages. Right-clicking the tab itself provides an option to open the tabbed page in its own new window.

    right click menu for a linkCreating a tabbed set of readings builds one Web page at a time, a process that often begins with a Google search. Using the menu click option on links in the search listing will reveal an option to open a linked page in a new tab, "Open Link in New Tab". See the example image on the right. These menus vary slightly with the browser. During this sorting process, right-clicked pages from the search are opened as new tabs, skimmed, then some kept and some deleted. This is similar to working through library shelves, scanning and skimming possibly relevant articles and books and keeping a set for further study and examination at a writing table. As the digital set of tabs grows one advantage of Web display is the ability to search an entire article or book for a term or phrase in seconds, a process that could take hours of skimming and scanning with paper.

    Once a set of useful web pages is assembled as a set of tabbed pages, a single bookmark can be created for the entire set. Safari bookmark set commandWhen the command is given to make a set a bookmark, a folder is created in the bookmark listings and separate bookmarks created for each tab and a bookmark for the folder itself. The folder can then become a single symbol or word in the browser's bookmark bar which can open the entire set of web pages in tabbed display within a single window in a moment's notice. Firefox bookmark set commandThe Safari command for this is on the left. Once this bookmark is created it can be added to the Bookmark Bar. A demonstration of how to set up single click bookmark sets in using the Safari browser can be found at Youtube. A similar arrangement can be created using Firefox and other browsers. See the Firefox image on the right. Once created it can be added to Firefox's Bookmarks Toolbar. These web page sets might not only include an article, dictionary, reference works, and related web pages but also a page for wiki or comment page personal or collaborative editing and composing of ideas and reflections.

    bookmark symbol for set up bookmarks in browser barIn the Safari browser, a small square is placed after the bookmark in the Bookmark Bar to indicate that it stands for a set of bookmarks (example on left). The top row of choices is the Bookmark Bar, which each user will build and modify over time for their own shifting needs and interests. This is the same Bookmark Bar as shown in the Web browser page view on the right. One click opens the entire set in a Web browser window which is the second row in the example image on the right. Instead of using the Bookmark Bar shortcut, the pull-down Bookmark listing could also be used.

    Just as a collection of paper-based readings on a study table would benefit from including a pencil and something to write on, so can a set of tabs include a web page in which to write (see blog example on the right). The writing space might be a blog or wiki page or any of a set of online composition tools such as the Google Docs online options of word processor, spreadsheet or slideshow application or some application from Microsoft's emerging Office Live tools (Schonfeld, 2007^). The list of online Web 2.0 composition tools is quite extensive (Houghton, 2004-2008^) and includes a wide range of media other than text. Other useful tabs might include an online dictionary and encyclopedia article related to the topic. It will require the physical world though to provide a cozy chair, handy desk and great lighting.

    An infinite number of one-click functional sets of bookmarks are possible. Many more than these can be imagined:

    Pausing to consider and develop reading strategy for such activity has its merits. Some bookmark items like the local library access webpage, basic thinking question sets including HOTS worksheets or online question forum sites might be common across many bookmark sets or left as standard items in the bookmark bar that all bookmark sets would use. When the need for immediate access to this set has past, the folder can be dragged and dropped into the Bookmark archive and/or a data storage device such as Flash drive or the computer's desktop. Conversely, any folder of bookmarks on the Flash drive or in the bookmark archive can be dropped into the Bookmark Bar area and made available with single click access. Finally, both the paper desktop environment and this digital workbench environment can and should be mixed and integrated.

    Web Site Mapping

    Some web sites are returned to for continuing use, study and participation. To help in understanding the arrangement of a complex or frequently used web site, try analyzing the site by mapping the sites's pages or at least the major branches that need most frequent use.

    To help yourself and those being taught, use pencil and paper or computer based applications such as Draw or Publisher or idea organizers (e.g., Kidspiration, Inspiration) to create your own maps of the linkage between pages and web sites that relate to a given area of study. Bubble maps may be easiest to draw. That is, draw a circle in the center of a piece of paper or computer drawing window and inside it put the title or main idea of a web site. For each link away from that page, draw a line connecting the center circle to a new bubble or circle which contains the link name, bookmark title or main idea of that page. This can be extended from any bubble to new bubbles. Actual links can also be made between these graphic objects and the web page itself if using computer software.

    Over time, areas and pages of web sites disappear, links are renamed and the pages relocated. So, save the map analysis as it will certainly need updating over some period of time.

    Web page Reading and Referencing Problems

    There are other questions for which there are no clear answers. Why do most web pages on the Internet not indicate when they were written or who wrote them? This seems more the result of bad habits and lack of knowledge about how to compose for the Web. Nevertheless, it does require that metacognitive pause to search for authorship or publisher, an activity that might also be used to encourage the reader to reflect on any potential bias of the author(s).


    The range of reading activities that were discussed, are currently just some of the reading issues for older readers, those from fourth grade on up that increasing read from the Web. These upper grade students are the ones with the greatest access to computers with Internet access. But the definition of "upper and older" is dropping rapidly. At what point in our history will these become general issues for the teaching of "reading" in the kindergarten through third grade years? Internet connected computers are available in a high percentage of homes and certainly used by young children. How much longer before schools will be providing some kind of portable computer for each student? Ongoing searches of the primary, elementary, middle and high school educational literature show no reference to teachers including the previously discussed reading concerns in their instruction yet, though some work is being done in addressing these problems for adult education. In summary, readers of the Web will be learning new ways to read. This implies a need for new ways to write as well. This raises a greater challenge to educators. What level of practice does it take to become competent adult readers of the Web? When and where and to what degree should such digital reading knowledge be passed along to emerging readers?



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    Page author: Bob Houghton