Can you read deeply on screen?

How do you read on screen? Do you skim more than you would on paper?

The article, Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing, suggests that we read more deeply if reading from paper than we do on a device.

I’m more likely to read a novel on my iPad than in hardcopy, and do most of my reading on screen. However, I found when I was having to do a large amount of reading for my research that I went through stages of reading printed articles and other stages of reading on screen. I’m not sure whether one was particularly better than the other. I also know that I’m not very good at skimming anything—so this might be a factor also.

I would be interested to know whether they’ve researched this in children. Perhaps there would be a different result if children are taught to read on screen?

Ulearn 2013

It’s been 3 years since I was last at Ulearn so I was really looking forward to it this year. It didn’t disappoint! In my view, Ulearn is THE education conference to attend in New Zealand. So if you can get to one, make sure it’s ulearn!


Ulearn kicked off for me at the Showcase on Tuesday night. 10 presenters for 10 minutes each, giving a look into what they would be talking about during the conference.

They were all very good, however the one that stood out for me was Megan Iemma (@megsamanda) who talked about her experiences around the Tasmanian bush fires and how social media helped to stay connected to what was going on and help those in need.



I only got to hear two of the three keynotes as I had to head to the airport early on the Friday. Ken Shelton (@k_shelton) was the first keynote and he shared about the importance of publishing. From the twitter backchannel stream and conversations later it was clear that not everyone agreed with him. Some were wondering about creating and others said that what he was suggesting was several years old. I think though that publishing is the next step from creating. You need to have created something before you are able to publish it. It also aligns with what the second keynote speaker, Mark Pesce (@mpesce), was saying. He talked about the importance of sharing. In many ways sharing is just a part of publishing. Perhaps it comes after publishing. Create-Publish-Share. It gets you the audience. In my mind, they all go together. Mark Pesce also suggested that we are past the ‘digital natives’ time, and now have sharing natives. It’s an interesting thought, and while I agree that our teenagers in particular are big sharers, I’m not convinced myself that it is a native thing for them.


Although I disagree with the digital natives/digital immigrants idea, I have seen my children, at very young ages (under 1 year old) pick up a device and stay using it adequately. I don’t see the same sorts of things happening in terms of sharing. I think the act of sharing is great, but to be effective it needs to be taught. It is also important that sharing is done responsibly and therefore discussion around digital citizenship is important. I’m not denying that as children/teens get their hands on devices they will begin to share as they see what their peers are doing but I’m not yet convinced that it is intrinsic to them.

One other thing that Mark Pesce said was,

assessment is intrinsic to the act of sharing

This was the message he wanted us all to take from the session. It was interesting because I for one did not understand exactly what he meant by this, and still don’t really understand. So why am I sharing it here? Simply because I’m hoping someone else out there might be able to explain it to me!

I wondered a little whether he was suggesting that if you share something it is going to be assessed/judged by others. Certainly if others want to use what you share they are going to need to assess it in terms of validity and reliability. So what we share will be assessed in some way by others, but it might not necessarily be assessed in the educational sense of the word which generally links to grading/feedback/learning.


Without going into detail of all the breakouts, I’m just going to list some of the things that stood out to me in no apparent order. Some of the key messages are listed as tweets:

    • Mark Osborne asked the question, “Why should students come to school?” It’s an interesting question as there is so much informal learning that can be done. Derek Wenmoth in one of his sessions also highlighted that we all (including out students) do a lot of informal learning. This learning should not be discounted by schools/teachers.



  • Derek Wenmoth made the comparison between hospitals being patient-centric and schools being learner-centric. Hospitals/doctors do not put everything back on to the patient to make decisions etc, but often in schools, teachers tend to do this by giving students the choice or promoting ‘personalised learning’. Derek suggested that schools need to ensure they are learnING centered. The teacher is still the professional and knows what is best, just like the doctor knows what is best for the patient.

  • David Kinane (@dakinane) and Megan Iemma (@megsamanda) presented a workshop together even though David was not there in person (he Skyped in). It was a great, fast-paced workshop sharing a range of fantastic tools for teaching and learning. Check out the the tweets from the session here on storify.
  • Another breakout with Derek Wenmoth looked at schools as networked learning places. It was great to see the power of making connections and bringing different networks together through a simple exercise with a roll of string.

    See more about this on Derek’s blog.


I know there is so much more that I could share and I could go into more detail, but I’ve got other things I need to do (finishing a thesis!). The last highlight I want to share though is meeting so many fellow tweeters. It was really great to put faces to names at last. Some of you I have been talking with for three or more years. It was great to meet you all and I look forward to further conversations and connections being made!

Reflecting on the earthquake evacuation

As many of you will be aware, central New Zealand was rocked by a series of strong earthquakes yesterday (Friday 16 August, 2013) beginning with a M6.6 at about 2:30 pm. Less than a month ago we were shaken by a M6.5. In my opinion the M6.5 felt worse, more rough, than the M6.6 which felt wavy (like being on a boat) however I know different people experienced the earthquake differently. Perhaps I was lucky to be on the ground floor of a building rather than swaying several floors up in a high-rise.

I was in a meeting at the time of the quake yesterday and after the shaking ended we continued our meeting until the floor warden came past telling us we had to evacuate the building. It was unclear whether we were going to be allowed back in at all so I grabbed my bag and walking shoes and headed out. I waited for several minutes outside with some staff but we were still unclear as to what was happening. Several started to leave and then I thought about the fact that trains would likely be cancelled so everyone was going to be trying to get on a bus. At this point I hadn’t realised that all of Wellington had been told to leave but I quickly realised this was the case.

I usually catch a bus, however my bus stop is the last before heading onto the motorway. I knew it was unlikely that I would be getting on the bus at that stop so I headed further into the city. I waited for a while at one bus stop but realised I hadn’t gone far enough. I met a colleague and we decided to head further into the city. Was this a crazy thing to do with all the high-rise buildings around and the possibility of further large shakes? I’m not sure. We waited at some other bus stops with no luck and then we decided to catch a bus going in the wrong direction, further into the city, but towards the start of the bus service. This paid off for us in the end. We got off the bus and only waited a few minutes before managing to get on the bus we needed to catch. By this stage an hour had passed since I left work. We probably only got one or two stops further on before the bus was full. It paid off going the wrong direction to get on the bus home.

It was a very slow bus ride, as I knew it would be, but about an hour later I was off the bus in Lower Hutt and just over an hour later I had made it home after catching a second bus. My normal 45 minute-1 hour commute took me 3 hours from when I left work.

So what did I learn from the experience?

  1. Sometimes you’ve got to go in what seems to be the wrong direction to reach your goal. It’s all part of overcoming the barriers. Not all roads are straight – you’ve got to go around lakes and over hills…
  2. I need a new pair of walking shoes. My shoes were okay, but if this earthquake was more damaging I may have been walking home. I think I would have struggled with this in the shoes I had yesterday.
  3. I need to get a new phone. The battery on my phone is nearly totally stuffed. One short call and it’s practically dead. Of course texting is often best in an emergency like this.
  4. It’s definitely time to have an emergency pack ready at work. I know it’s crazy after the big shake a few weeks ago and the hugely damaging and fatal earthquake in Christchurch in February 2011, but I’m still not prepared at work. One of the main things I wanted yesterday was a drink. I managed to get one once I was in Lower Hutt but that was 2 hours after setting off. It was also getting very cold as I started my short walk from the bus stop to my home. I was glad for my beanie, but realise on a worse day I would have needed more.
  5. Bus drivers are awesome! They did a fantastic job keeping their passengers safe and dealing with distressed people wanting to get home but not being allowed on the full buses.

This earthquake was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I knew in a bad earthquake that it would be difficult to make the journey home, but the fact I’ve now had to do it, I realise how unprepared I really am.

Thankfully this series of earthquakes has not had the same impact as those suffered in Christchurch. I feel for those in and around Seddon where the earthquakes are centred as they have borne the brunt of the damage. As we continue to feel the effects of the aftershocks I trust everyone stays safe and watches out for each other.