Strategy Guide

Reading on the Go

5 - 12
Strategy Guide Series
Teaching with Technology

About this Strategy Guide

An increasing number of students own Internet-capable mobile devices and are already reading a variety of texts on them. Help students become more critical consumers of their texts by teaching strategies to critically engage with texts on mobile devices.

Research Basis

The International Literacy Association’s New Literacies and 21st-Century Technologies position statement states that new literacies emerge with new technologies; these new literacies include engaging with a robust number of multimedia texts and applications. As more students consume information from their various mobile devices, these literacies become increasingly important.

When working with their own mobile devices, students access, read, evaluate, and use a variety of texts within a multitude of environments. Teaching students what actions they need to take while finding information, reading, and taking notes helps them better understand the functionality they need within any given mobile application. However, instructors also need to come to the multi-device party prepared with suggestions for different reading and note-taking applications.

By encouraging students to understand how to critically evaluate and use reading and note-taking mobile applications, instructors help students become more fluent with different technologies as well as more information literate (The NCTE Definition of 21st-Century Literacies).

Strategy in Practice

Students can access many types of digital texts via their Internet-ready mobile devices. Before explicitly supporting your students' reading on their smartphones or tablets, do the following:

  • Confirm that students and their guardians realize you're using these devices, and verify that each has a large enough data package to stay within students' data allowances.

  • Review different mobile reading and note-taking applications. Consider collaborating with fellow faculty with different mobile devices and access to different applications. Some criteria to review include the following:
    • Reading: the ability to adjust word size, font, and color; inclusion of a text-to-audio option
    • Highlighting: the ability to highlight text, ideally in multiple colors
    • Note-taking: the ability to associate notes with pieces of text
    • Sharing: the ability to share texts, highlights, and notes
    • Privacy and security
    • Cost

  • Take pictures/screen captures of specific functions within different applications so you can share them.

You cannot know all the functionalities of every reading and note-taking application; instead, be comfortable with some, and you and your students will teach each other. When you introduce reading on mobile devices, consider the following activities:

  • Discuss the different ways you interact with a text while reading. Develop a list together of application functionalities students want and need.

  • Consider having in-class mobile reading time. At first, these sessions may include some conversation about how to work a given application, in addition to discussion about students' reading process and the content. Also consider having students reflect upon when and where they read on their mobile devices.

  • If you want students to do specific activities, assign things like changing the reading interface, looking up words, highlighting, or taking notes where you ask them to share the results, either through the application itself or through a picture/screen capture.

  • Discuss the fact that a majority of mobile reading is either texts that individuals have saved for easy access or looking up and reading just-in-time information. Have students discuss times when their friends or family read just-in-time information. Use that as an opportunity to discuss evaluating sources.

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