A debate over literacy played out in the New York Times on July 27, 2008 in the article, “Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?

It’s an interesting article that captures many viewpoints on the question, from the debate over whether online reading helps or hurts to whether it develops different thinking (in line with the Atlantic Monthly “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” article that I mentioned in my last blog) to whether reading online benefits different kinds of learners such as dyslexic students.

The quote from Yale professor Sally Shaywitz, the author of “Overcoming Dyslexia” and perhaps the foremost expert on that topic, is very interesting. She says, “When you read online there are always graphics … I think it’s just more comfortable and – I hate to say easier – but it more meets the needs of somebody who might not be a fluent reader.”

With the world increasingly moving online and our push for student-centric learning technologies in education, that quote certainly caught my attention, as did the article. Also of interest is Michigan State University professor Rand Spiro’s observation that “[young people] aren’t as troubled as some of us older folks are by reading that doesn’t go in a line… That’s a good thing because the world doesn’t go in a line, and the world isn’t organized into separate compartments or chapters.”

Also of interest is this blog post on the topic that references our work and says, “I think that this whole debate is based on wrong categorization. Using old frameworks to evaluate new phenomenon is fundamentally wrong.”

What do you think? What might be the correct categories and framing?

– Michael B. Horn


  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.