Wes Fryer has posted a podcast of a presentation â€“ â€œEncouraging Readingâ€ by Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus University of Southern California, at Encyclo-Media 2006, Oklahoma City, OK_01 September 2006 (Thanks Wes!). It is a great presentation and I highly recommend it. I practically cheered through most of it. The gist is we need to return to doing â€œSilent Sustained Readingâ€ with our students and put more books into our libraries, classrooms, homes and hands of â€œAt Riskâ€ students. I wholeheartedly agree. SSR has been one of the unintended victims of the time constraints imposed by the requirements of NCLB in many classrooms â€“ it was not forbidden, but at least discouraged at my school over the last 5 â€“ 6 years.
Interestingly, towards the end of his presentation Krashen concludes, among other things, that we should cut back on technology in schools and put the money into books (he says he canâ€™t find any data that supports technology improving reading ability).
Using technology in education is not mainly about supporting reading instruction (although whether supported by research or not, I suspect technology at least provides greater access and motivation to read) – technology is a tool used to support the gathering, organizing, editing, sharing, presenting, archiving, discussing and collaborating about information (feel free to add to the list, I left out plenty). Technology in its many forms is a tool like paper, pencils, books and libraries are tools (and resources) used to help gather, process and disseminate knowledge. Technology has become so pervasive and valuable a tool, and has so many applications, that being at least basically literate in its use has become an essential learning. An essential learning that presently is only available to the middle and upper classes for the most part outside of schools and libraries. Technology use in schools is not just about using it as a tool, but also using it ethically – which again is tough if it is not available at your home under the supervision of family members that understand its use and implications. (kind of like drug, sex and health education)
Could you lead a successful and fulfilling life without technology â€¦ yes. You could say the same about learning to drive a car or using transportation â€“ you donâ€™t have to know how to drive or use modern transportation â€“ how many do so successfully in todayâ€™s world?
I could be wrong, but the last time I looked the internet seemed to have at least some pages that contained text, at least some of which might be material that one could access and read â€¦ during say â€¦ Silent Sustained Reading time? I think I noticed it covers many different topics and languages too â€“ and I have had students participate in online discussions (that they had to read and respond to) a few with authors of books or poetry – so I bet at least some students would find some interesting material on the net (and some software) to read.
Is there research to support my point? Iâ€™m not sure I care. I do suspect we should put money into books and technology â€“ and just education in general.
Learning is messy.