In an online educational environment, you are probably going to do more reading than listening. You may do some of your reading in printed form, an assigned novel or textbook, but some of it might also be online in the form of a webpage. Reading online is not the same as reading in print, so you should practice some strategies that will improve your online reading comprehension and speed.
- 1. When you read something that has been printed by a reputable publishing house, you can assume that the work is authoritative. The author had to be vetted by a publishing house and multiple editors. When you read something online, it might have been written or posted by anybody. This means that you have to seriously evaluate the authority of the information you are reading. Pay attention to who was writing what you are reading—can you identify the author? What are his or her credentials?
- 2. In the print world, texts may include pictures, graphics, or other visual elements to supplement the author’s writing. In the digital realm, this supplementary material might also include hyperlinks, audio, and video, as well. This will fundamentally change the reading experience for you because online reading can be interactive in a way that a print book cannot. An online environment allows you to work and play with content rather than passively absorbing it.
- 3. When you read in print, you generally read sequentially, from the first word to the last. Maybe you will flip to an index or refer to a footnote, but otherwise the way you read is fairly consistent and straightforward. Online, however, you can be led quickly into an entirely new area of reading by clicking on links or related content.
Why, What, How?
Now that you have heard about how reading online differs from reading print, you should know that this has some practical consequences for reading comprehension—how to understand and apply what you are reading. Improving your online reading comprehension will save you time and frustration when you work on your assignments. You will be able to understand your course subject matter better, and your performance on your quizzes and exams will improve.
What are the “why, what, and how” of reading comprehension?
When you keep the “why, what and how” of reading comprehension in the forefront of your mind while reading, your understanding of the material will improve drastically. It will only take a few minutes but it will not only help you remember what you have read, but also structure any notes that you might want to take.
- “Why am I being asked to read this passage?”
In other words, what are the instructions my professor has given me?
- “What am I supposed to get out of this passage?”
That is, what are the main concerns, questions, and points of the text? What do you need to remember for class?
- “How will I remember what I just read?”
In most cases, this means taking notes and defining key terms.
Here are a few quick tips on how to avoid distractions when reading online.
- 1. To read more quickly and efficiently online, try to avoid distractions like ads, pop-ups, or hyperlinks that will lead you away from your assignment.
- 2. Another tactic you can try is to scan the page before actually reading, focusing on key words and phrases rather than every single word.