It seems obvious that online reading programs would help students become better readers. As it turns out, time spent on the computer can interfere with reading development in three ways.
- Computer time displaces reading time. Most online reading programs include animations, skill work, and other elements that are not actual reading.
- Many online reading programs are actually assessment programs. They do not include teaching or learning features. Online reading programs often relegate students to low level tasks answering closed-ended questions.
- Students do not discuss books at the computer but we know that vocabulary, comprehension, and literary analysis skills develop best through discussion.
Let’s not give away our opportunity to promote reading development by placing students in front of screens where students already spend 3 to 6 hours a day. Instead, let’s read with students and facilitate lively discussions about character, plot, vocabulary, and literary elements.