Rethinking Reading | “Do you read me?”

Before we begin this post, an urgent note for those of you who are into comics – Halftone 2 is the App Store’s App of the Week. If you haven’t gotten this app yet, now is a good time to get into it!

Which brings us to today’s topic – Reading! Following on the theme of Divergent Thinking in a Convergent World, today we tackle ‘reading’. I mean, we read books, read comics, read a chart, but do we read a painting? As media converges, what will reading look like in the future? How can we prepare today’s learners to cope with its evolution?

“Do you read me?” – funnily enough this is radio talk… You can read about its history and significance here. Reading applies to more than just words and books. It can mean many things. So, why when we mention reading we automatically revert to the idea of reading a book and little else?

As the world of reading converges because of multimedia, innovative ways to communicate and sub-culturalism, a lateral approach to reading is required. Are our learners being educated to embrace and wrestle with this?

Reading will become more interactive and lateral

Instead of just reading words and sentences, the future of reading will become more lateral. iBooks and interactive books for example now present information in new ways. Learners will now need to ‘read’ not just literal words but also graphics, colors and ‘actions’. Pictograms and other graphical elements become the new universal language. Information can be presented multi-dimensional and layered – meaning, like an onion, information can be layered and you can take a different perspective as you digest and analyze information and go in different directions. And (scary thought for some), reading becomes non-linear. Like websites, pages don’t have to flow in a straight fashion anymore. You can have multiple sources of information AND choose to multi-read at the same time! Have you heard of De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats?

Some examples that stretch the idea of reading include

Reading will become more nuanced

Apart from media and new delivery methods, reading will also become more nuanced and personalised. One of the biggest trends in education today is personalized learning. Educators are beginning to see the inadequacy of ‘batched learning and teaching.’ Learners do not conform by age, demographics or psychographics. Because every individual is unique, his/her personal combination of nature and nurture will present a huge challenge for any system that reduces learning into a fixed, rigid and narrowed curriculum. Learning will become more outcome based, with building blocks that can be mixed and matched into countless combinations to suit the personal learning preference of each individual learner so he/she can each learn more effectively. Hence, reading becomes nuanced – while some learners ‘read’ books, others ‘read’ by listening to audiobooks, and others ‘read’ by playing a game. What is important is that learners understand there is no right or wrong way to read, just ways that are more effective than others depending on the goals and the media involved as they comprehend and engage with their world.

Some ideas to think about include

Writing and reading are obviously intricately related to one another. We sometimes take reading for granted because when the writing is done well, it just flows. That’s one of the reasons why I like movie scripts so much. They are writing that need to read well enough to be translated into a visual narrative that engages the audience and make them see, hear and feel the story. Wow, that’s one sentence that helps us see how many things converge when we talk about writing and reading!

Now, all we have to do is bottle that thought and take reading to the next level. Do you read me?

PS : Here’s a link to an article about how challenging it is to create something that reads well… Enjoy!