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Reading skills for online reading

Read Online

Reading online requires a different set of skills from reading paper based text, and also provides many opportunities for more effective reading, processing and presenting.  This section aims to introduce you and your class to these skills and opportunities.

Online text is multidimensional, allowing text, graphics, audio, video, animation, hyperlinking and other features to add to the reading experience.  It also offers the opportunity to interact and contribute to the site - often through hyperlinked web 2.0 tools.  In addition to the reading experience, students are able to develop their proficiency in all the key competencies - thinking, language symbols and text, managing self, participating and contributing and relating to others.  Any additional resources are often as close at hand as a hyperlink - glossary, further information, related websites, multimedia etc.  To be truly literate in the 21st century, students and teachers need to be competent in the use of all these opportunities and ways of working.  While many teachers print out digital text in order to read and digest, today's student need to be able to read on-screen, therefore it is vital that we add this in to our instructional reading programmes and provide regular practice.

To begin check out this Google presentation on Digital Literacy by Amanda O'Connell - or better still, get your more able students to use it as a resource to teach themselves and share with others.

Digital Literacy and effective search

Text Read Software

To assist less able students with the decoding of text, download Natural Readers to your computers - versions for PC and Mac.  Open the programme, select the Floating Toolbar (PC) or Miniboard (Mac), lodge this in the corner out of the way, and then any highlighted text on any page in any programme will be read aloud to the student highlighting the words as it reads.

Highlighted text

Natural reader

Alternatively check out the accessibility options on your particular computer, tablet or mobile device - text read software is among the many features available in universal design for learning systems.  For example, on an iPad, go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Speech or Voice Over and turn on the required buttons.

Speech Text Read Voice over text read


Hyperlinked glossary and resource

Hyperlinked glossary

Web based text often has additional information or a glossary available through hyperlinks.  In the section above "universal design for learning" (UDL) is hyperlinked, creating the opportunity for those who don't know about this term and its implication, to find further resource at the click of the link.  Many websites use this technique to assist the reader, and this is something that students preparing their own online readings and presentations could also learn to do very simply.  It could be part of a reading session to browse such a site, learn how to hyperlink from a web tutorial and then prepare their own example of this in the class wiki or blog.  Wikipedia uses this hyperlinking for this purpose.  Check it out in this example and then look for it on other websites you and your class visit.  Where a glossary does not exist or meet requirements, copying and pasting the unknown word into the Google search box of your browser is another means of gaining glossary information.

To make your own hyperlinks is easy in most programmes.  Generally you just highlight the text or image that you want to hyper link, and on your menu look for the hyperlink icon - usually a picture of a chain link.  

Hyperlink icon  

 When you select this, a form appears for you to paste the link text copied from the appropriate url bar to insert in behind the text or graphic.

Insert hyperlink url

 Your text or picture is now hyperlinked.  Text will appear in a different colour according to the theme of the web page.  This colour usually changes when the link has been visited.  Both hyperlinked pictures and text will have the hand icon when you pass over the hyperlink.  Clicking the link takes you to the linked page.  The "Back" button of your browser is generally used to return to the main page you were reading.

Most students will be happy using the Web editor method described above to add hyperlinks, but if you have some that like to get into the html code to create or refine the hyperlinks, they can access a tutorial at this Ironspider site.

Ironspider hyperlink tutorial