Posts Tagged ‘The Atlantic’

Expanding the Classroom

October 7, 2008

Fast Eyes

Talk about amazing. The other day I turned on my computer. I got on the Internet, went to a webpage, sat there, put on my glasses…there was a lot of text swimming before my eyes…but I sat there and I read the whole thing! I read it slowly; I read it carefully; I highlighted portions of the text using Diigo; I made some notes (Diigo again). I read it through a second time: an article that was first published in the Chronicle of Higher Education and now is in residence on the Web.

Of course, I was also IMing, and twittering, and blogging and wikiing, and I had some music in the background—Moby—and I was playing solitaire, and answering questions on Yahoo, and working on a vocabulary game called Free Rice—but my primary focus was on this article by Mark Bauerlein, a professor at Emory University, called Online literacy is a Lesser Kind. Might be interesting, I thought.  Oh, and I had Photoshop going, just to fool around with when I was bored. I’m thinking of creating an avatar.

The article did not start off auspiciously. Referencing Jacob Nielsen, the guru of web usability, usually puts me off. He can be a little pompous. And as I glanced down the page his name jumped up at me. I was tempted just to scan and move on, but I am interested in literacy and Professor Bauerlein should have some interesting points to make.  

So, Jacob Nielsen. I read on.  It seems he’s done this study on the way people ‘read’ material on the Internet, testing some 200 plus people, and it turns out the vast majority of them don’t read at all. Not line by line, word for word anyway. Rather, they scan the page looking at the text in an F pattern: read across the top, move your eyes halfway down the page, go across again, and then zip to the bottom.

‘F’ Mr. Nielsen opines, ‘for fast.’

One is tempted to use another ‘f’ word here, but this is a family oriented blog.

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