Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

E-Text and E-Books Are Changing the Literacy Landscape: Digital Technology Is Beginning to Offer an Array of Multimedia and Multimodal Devices and Applications That Promise to Help Struggling Readers and Engage All Learners

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

E-Text and E-Books Are Changing the Literacy Landscape: Digital Technology Is Beginning to Offer an Array of Multimedia and Multimodal Devices and Applications That Promise to Help Struggling Readers and Engage All Learners

Article excerpt

The digital world is expanding the reading palette, offering readers--especially readers who struggle with printed text--new possibilities to engage in books and text enhanced with media and learning supports. The shift from reading the page to reading the screen heightens the importance of visual and multimodal literacies (Kress, 2003), and options to customize the reading experience increase the student's need to be strategic (Dalton & Proctor, 2008).

An expanded view of text is consistent with the Common Core State Standards' vision of a successful learner who can critically read and communicate with text in print and multimodal formats. The National Education Technology Plan highlights the importance of learning from e-text, and the Digital Textbook Collaborative (2012) offers a blueprint for designing and using e-texts. The blueprint calls for e-texts to use Internet connectivity, offer rich, interactive learning experiences, personalize learning, encourage collaboration, provide feedback, and support formative assessment as well as student self-assessment.

This vision of e-texts has yet to be fully realized, but schools are moving to integrate e-texts and digital curricula, and some authors and educational publishers are experimenting with multimodal composition. Further, while the e-text research is limited--partially due to rapid changes in technology and media--there is a reasonable knowledge base about e-text design and instructional strategies to guide us, using what we already know about effective reading instruction.

UDL framework

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing learning tools, texts, and environments so that all learners have access to the supports they need to succeed (Rose & Meyer, 2002). Based on the premise that individuals and society as a whole benefit from inclusive learning, it advocates for the design of curricula and texts that are responsive to the needs and interests of the broad range of learners represented in today's classrooms. Drawing on research about how the brain learns, UDL offers three design principles:

* Provide multiple means of representation--the "what" of learning, such as recognizing the difference between a news report and an editorial;

* Provide multiple means of action and expression--the "how" of learning, such as knowing how to write or podcast a news report; and

* Provide multiple means of engagement--the "why" of learning, such as setting goals to become a journalist and investing effort in achieving those goals.

For example, e-text can provide multiple means of representation by linking to a multimedia glossary or a bilingual translation. Multiple means of action and expression might be manifested by presenting options for writing, drawing, or audiorecording responses to the text. Multiple means of engagement, which overlap representation and expression, might be supported by allowing readers to choose media for interacting with the text and by giving them access to an e-text support system.

Research on universally designed e-texts has shown that students benefit from embedded reading supports for word recognition, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies (Dalton et al., 2002; Dalton et al., 2011; Dalton & Palincsar, 2013; Coyne et al., 2012). However, a randomized control trial with middle school students found no comprehension growth differences between students who read enhanced e-books and those who continued their usual instruction, raising issues about the challenges of integrating e-book instruction (Drummond et al., 2011). In general, the positive effects of universally designed e-texts are consistent with other e-text studies. Experimental studies are few, but the results of a meta-analysis of e-book reading in preK through 5th grade yielded small to moderate comprehension effects (Zucker, Moody, & McKenna, 2009). Positive comprehension effects for middle school students were also found in a meta-analysis of e-text and other technology enhanced reading (Moran et al. …

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