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In this unique lesson students compare Online Reading with Traditional Books


Computers & Internet, Language Arts  



Title – The Future of Reading
By – Gerald McGee
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Computers / Internet
Grade Level – 12th
The Future of Reading:
Comparing Online Delivery Methods With Traditional Sources
ICG 760. Section 1
Dr. Terresa Gibney
May 17, 2002

1. Introduction/Proposal – For my proposal, I am drawing on an experience I had at Green Valley High. Believe it or not, sometimes there are not enough texts at this school. One of the teachers I observed had her students read certain works of literature online. I think it would be interesting to compare and contrast the effectiveness of reading works online vs. the traditional forms of delivery. Following the lead of the Vanderbilt researchers, I think it would be a good idea to have students delve into the world of online publishing. Stephen King is just one author who has offered stories first via the Internet. Was it a success? What did people like or dislike about the method of delivery? What types of devices are people using to download information? Is a portable device necessary in order to compete with a book that can be used anywhere.

2. Rationale for the project – This project is designed for a 12th grade accelerated English course. The first nine weeks are used to explore career options in fields related to English. This assignment is for students interested in publishing. Most state standards contain objectives dealing with the publishing of student writing.

3. Theoretical Perspective – As stated earlier, this paper will use the work of researchers at Vanderbilt University as a framework. The Vanderbilt researchers were, of course, concerned with tying technology to constructivism. Most of my research comes from one of the foremost independent voices in the world of online

4. Activity Description – – this article details the early days of online publishing. – this articles offers a few of online publishing in the year 2000. Stephen King, with the support of his publisher, Simon & Schuster, published a story online. The story could be downloaded to a standard computer or a compatible portable device. The author of this article does not believe that paperless books will ever totally replace traditional books. – a website where authors, with the representation of online originals, sell their work only in downloadable formats such as Adobe, Acrobat, Rocket e-book, Microsoft reader, or Palm. The company is seven years old but hardly a household name in 2002.

Grade Level: 12th Honors English

Objective – The student will be able to compare and contrast the experience of reading a book in a downloadable format with what they have experienced with traditional books.

Materials –
– Computers connected to the Internet and, if possible, using one of the portable devices is strongly encouraged.
– Reading the articles I detailed at the beginning of this section is also a requirement.
– Printers

Introductory Activity – I will ask the students to think about the experience of reading online vs. the experience of reading a traditional newspaper or book. I will read part of the article about Stephen King’s first foray into the world of online publishing.

Procedures for the Lesson – Have the students read the required articles.
Then, have them download a demo story from Online Originals.
After successful completion of the download and the reading activity, the students will write an essay that compares and contrasts online publishing formats with the more traditional delivery methods that the students have experienced in the past.

Closure – After picking up the essays on their due date, have the students share some of the scenarios they encountered during the completion of this assignment.

Homework Assignment – For extra credit, students can demonstrate how books can be read on portable devices for the class.

Evaluation and Assessment:
Students will have their essays graded for content and mechanics using a standard 100 point scale.
Evaluation report – Most of the people I have worked with in this area were very computer savvy. Less technical participants are likely to have trouble with downloading. Students who use portable devices seem to get more out of this assignment, but access to these devices for students is likely to be limited in most districts.

Modifications – I would work with a local electronics supplier to see if my students could experiment with their equipment for the purpose of this assignment. For the most part, I think this is a sound lesson that successfully blends technology education with a writing activity.

Conclusions – Most people still prefer traditional books over online versions, but there is no doubt that paperless options are cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Eventually, the technology will make the task of reading a book in a downloadable format more attractive. As with most technological milestones, this new way of reading will probably not catch on until the price of the portable devices go down in price. Even then, I still believe that the traditional book will continue to survive.

Todd, T. (1998) . The Paperless Book [electronic version] .
Zeitchik, S. (2000) . The Revolution That Wasn’t [electronic version] .
also, see

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