Use new technology, but keep the old…

If you could take one thing from the traditional “sit down and read a book” experience, and insert that into the “perusing through hypertext world”, what would it be? First of all, as much as I love computers, nothing beats taking a good book, with that old paper smell, and holding in my hands while I fall asleep in my comfy chair. In reality though, technology is far from transforming my laptop into a musty book, so the items I would like to see used more when developing hypertext, are pages that turn and a more accessible highlighting feature.

When I read a traditional text, I look forward to the moment when I reach the end of the page, and I get to turn that page and see what is next. When reading most hypertext, the closest I get to turning a page is pressing an arrow for next. For me, it always seems like I am watching a slide show or scrolling down a never ending paper. It would also make it easier for younger children to make the connection between traditional text and hypertext. They both consist of pages, paragraphs, main ideas, and details. Many of my students would not connect any of these literary elements between the two, but if when they clicked the word NEXT and a page turned, they might begin to notice the similarities.

Most of my time reading is spent with a nonfiction text, either for school or for enjoyment. Since this is the type of reading I enjoy, I usually carry a highlighter and transform the pages into an artwork of important facts. I know this option exists in some programs, but it is not easily accessible when reading all hypertext. Three weeks ago, my students were using a new assessment software which allowed them to quickly highlight important sentences with their mouse as they read. It was as simple as right clicking and dragging, and instantly, the text turned yellow. It stayed highlighted until they were finished. Wouldn’t it be great to be able individualize hypertext everywhere with our own highlighter?

Linking to new text, looking up a definition in seconds, and jumping between paragraphs make reading much more user friendly, but some things cannot be replicated. Feel free to let me know what you think could be added to hypertext to make it more like a traditional text.


5 thoughts on “Use new technology, but keep the old…

  1. I love reading real books too! And even though I’ve owned all versions of the kindle, sometimes you just need to read from real paper and turn pages. I would love it if my kindle turned pages like a book or even like flipping though an ipad. I agree, page turning provides parameters and depth that a computer screen cannot often replicate. Great idea! A virtual highlighter that prints or e-mails selected quotes would be fantastic too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think that finding ways to markup hypertext–and to make those markups shareable, like the way you can pass a highlighted text to a friend–is one piece that would really help to make hyperspaces useful as places to acquire knowledge. Shiftspace ( is one application that seems like it would be helpful–but I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never used it so can’t really give a recommendation. I like the way VoiceThread ( lets you annotate and share different media–but the interface is still a bit cumbersome for me. What program/site were you using with your students?

    1. The software we were using is call Achieve Data Director, and I believe it is published by Riverside Publishing which is associated with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  3. Since I started reading mostly on my iPhone about a year ago, I have rarely picked up an actual book and your post made me feel nostalgic for the same reasons you have mentioned, the smell, actually turning a page, the weight of it in my hands.

    But from the first book I read on the iPhone, I was hooked because here is my reality when it comes to reading for fun: I lose my page constantly, because my book is on the arm of the couch when I put it down and the kids knock it over and *it takes me ten minutes to find my spot, and really that ten minutes was all the time I had to read because it was time to make dinner or time for ballet or time for this or that, so now that I have found my page, I do not have time to read. Or, I fell asleep in bed and the book fell onto the floor in the middle of the night and once again, my page is lost. (Start reading again at the above *).

    With the iPhone, I never lose my page, it’s always right where I left it. And when I have a minute to read because I’m waiting in line, or waiting for my daughter to finish ballet, I always, always have my book with me so I can read for those ten or fifteen minutes. I would never constantly carry a hardcover with me at all times.

    But best of all, when I finish my book, I have an entire bookstore at my fingertips 24/7! And one more thing, if you’ve seen the commercials for the iPad, the page actually looks like it’s turning. Very cool!

    I love reading your blogs!


  4. I have tried a couple of e-books and try reading my class assignments on-line.However, I too love the feel of a book, the smell of a bookstore like Barnes & Noble or library,and having stacks of books in my house that I can easily reference. How can I get this from online hypertext? Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact I can read my news online and heavily enjoy the blog world.However, no amount of technology will ever make me replace the experience and feel of an actual book. Speaking of my classwork, highlighting online has been a real chore so I am forced to print in order to read within an adequate amount of time and not have my highlights erased if I forget to save my adjusted PDFs 🙂

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