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Presentation Details


Reading from Book versus e-Book: Inflexible Learners or Electronic Text's Poor Cognitive eErgonomics?

Paula M. Roberts.

A well-established literature records student dissatisfaction with reading from the computer screen, which leads to their printing electronic course materials. Despite this longstanding preference for reading from paper, there has been little sustained research effort to improve the usability of electronic text.

This anomaly may reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of research in educational hypermedia and the various inputs of educationalists, computer scientists, instructional designers, human-computer-interface researchers and reading theorists. Whilst valuable in itself this fragmented approach has hindered a concerted effort both to challenge the assumption that reading from electronic text is the same as reading from print, and to reform the usability of electronic text through a combination of technological improvements and better understanding of human information usage.

This paper describes a research study designed to discover how an individual reads an electronic text, how screen presentation impacts on reading, and how the screen can best be designed to support screen reading. The research question is not should books be paper or electronic, but how does either presentation medium best satisfy an information need?


Paula M. Roberts  (Australia)
Lecturer in Multimedia
School of Communication, Information and New Media
University of South Australia

Paula Roberts teaches Digital Publishing courses in the B.A. (Multimedia Studies) and Computer Ethics and has published widely in both areas.

  • Electronic text and student learning
  • Cognitive ergonomics of electronic text

(30 min Conference Paper, English)