Texts and Tasks: Why Reading Matters in Online Courses

Texts and Tasks: Why Reading Matters in Online Courses

Dixie D. Massey (University of Washington, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8009-6.ch004
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The subject of students' reading abilities and achievement are the focus national and international comparisons. Such a broad audience makes reading content, activities, and assessments the subject of great scrutiny. At the same time, we know little about reading within the quickly expanding market of K-12 distance education. Research offers a very limited description of the types of reading that students are asked to do or the students' abilities to accomplish this reading effectively. This chapter describes the types of reading students do in online K-12 courses, followed by a review of the limited research about reading in online courses. The chapter concludes with instructional implications for teachers of online courses and possibilities for future research.
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In order to establish reading in online courses as an issue that deserves attention, it is useful to provide a rationale for the scope of online learning. This section considers the pattern of growth in online courses, teachers of online courses, and how students in K–12 online courses perform compared to face-to-face students.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Unbounded Contexts: An open system, such as the internet, that requires the reader to create the overall text by searching, choosing links, and following an undetermined path.

New Literacies (title case): The combination of multiple new literacies. For example, blogging, mashing, and using wikis would be individual new literacies that taken together form the larger body of New Literacies.

Digital Literacies: Ways of using digital technologies through both consumption of information and production of additional information.

new literacies (lowercase): Individual specific ways that literacy is practiced such as blogging, mashing, using wikis, and more.

Literacy: Consists of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Literacy is being able to communicate and understand others’ communication, allowing for the possibility of making meaning from images and symbols without text, as well as communicating through images and symbols.

Reading: Identifying words and comprehending, or understanding, the combined meaning of the words.

Bounded Contexts: Reading that follows a suggested sequence in a closed system, such as a traditional textbook, journal article, or PDF document. Clear boundaries that exist in bounded contexts suggest a linear or sequential approach to reading.

Multimodal: The use of visual, auditory, and textual modes presented in combination. For example, a webpage that includes video, an audio clip, text, charts, and graphs would be considered a multimodal text.

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