Radio #EDUtalk 01-11-2017 Loose Learners Ep 7: How to read

Download Loose Learners Ep 7: How to read

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

We aired a relaxed episode 7 we hope you enjoy listening.

The topic for this episode can be characterised as slow meanderings on digital and analogue reading strategies. We explore our personal preferences for paper or screen, strategies we use to help us remember and wonder if we are just getting old.


The idea for this episode came from a short blogpost by John:

“Just discovered I had a Goodreads account, started and abandoned in 2010. I’ve be finding that I am not recalling the titles of books I read on kindle and thinking about making some tracking notes. I’ll give this another go.”

The post gathered many comments, do head over to John’s blog and have a read, so we thought it might have mileage for a conversation on Loose Learners. The podcast is unusually short (40 minutes) and we hope you will enjoy the fact we actually kept on topic for once.

We discuss strategies for reading and remembering, explore some apps such as to help the organisation of highlights when e-reading. We touch on Goodreads and its different uses; how some of us enjoy the social elements and some of us no so much. How some of us like to write reviews and others of us just want quick notes that connect across different books.

We reflect on how reading may have changed since we were young. Do kids still read for hours? Do they just scan screen? Does the overuse of screen affect the depth of absorption of content?

This leads us to discussing a new university course that forces students to sit non-stop without device interruption, just reading. The course is hugely oversubscribed. It is designed to help students reconnect with the skills of deep reading and its potential spiritual benefits. The professor says:

“Most people don’t know how to just sit and read a book for five hours,” McDaniel said. “We could do it at 8, 9, 10 years old, but you start to lose it when reading becomes an assignment or a competition.The physical experience of reading a book, sticking with your emotions and sitting with boredom is worth the struggle.”

We discuss the value of this and how it may be useful to foreground that often learning is at the edge of discomfort and that may be our screens are making us assume all too easily that struggle and discomfort is optional. Technology  feeds Impulse not intention: “The attention economy incentivises the design of technologies that grab our attention,” he says. “In so doing, it privileges our impulses over our intentions.”

Close reading practice counter this trends.

We did not discuss the research much but we did find a good review by Scientific American on the themes emerging in research on the difference between analogue and digital reading. Mariana was happy to learn that our sense of ‘topography’ of a paper book, does indeed affect our sense of knowing something from our reading. She buys paper books after reading digital version in order to gain this inner sense of topology of a book.

Finally, a kind listener (Ian Guest) pointed us to some statistics that may answer some of the questions we posed on how reading habits may have changed…or put another way: Are Mariana and John just old curmudgeons wishing for more reading time like in the good old days? (yes).

We will be Back

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