Reading in online environments

7 Dec 2012

Reading in online environments is the topic of this Gerry White research review in DERN.


In 2009 the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) examined 15-year-old students’ ability to read, understand and interact with digital texts. The assessment of digital reading, undertaken by around 25 000 students in 19 of the 67 countries and economies that participated in PISA 2009, represented the first large-scale international assessment of digital reading. ACER released the Australian report in 2012 and has since conducted further analysis of the results in order to answer questions such as how well young people deal with contradictory and unreliable information online.

PISA’s digital reading assessment is an assessment of reading in the digital medium, as opposed to a computer delivered assessment of reading in the print medium. While many of the skills needed to read a digital text are similar to those needed to read a print text, differences between print and electronic environments require readers to develop new skills. The nature, form and blurred boundaries of digital texts mean that readers typically construct their own path, choosing which fragments of the almost infinite number of texts should be read – more so than with printed texts, which have a physical order and physical boundaries. Digital texts also offer different opportunities for readers to engage with the text by directly influencing the content: for example by responding to an email message or adding a comment to a blog.



Gerry White is Principal Research Fellow: Teaching & Learning using Digital Technologies, Australian Council for Educational Research

This article was first published on the Digital Education Research Network 2 (DERN) and is reproduced here in whole, courtesy of DERN.

Image: Flickr / Christine Rose


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