how to teach visual learners title cover

How to Teach Visual Learners

In the modern world, we’re now well-aware that there are different types of learners and that their method of absorbing information differs quite vastly from each other. Despite this, most schools still follow the old, slightly outdated readings/lecture style of teaching, something that has been, time and again, proven to be ineffective in a class with students of differing learning styles.

Which isn’t to say that lectures are ineffective on their own, it’s just that most schools employ this strategy alone. However, it’s important to understand how each student processes data in order to create a teaching strategy that benefits all.

Different Types of Learners


The idea that different students learn differently started in the 1970’s, with David Kolb’s Experiential Model theory that broke down learning styles into 4 categories: Accommodator, Converger, Diverger, Assimilator. Over time, other educational theorists –like Peter Honey, Neil Fleming, Alan Mumford, et al –contributed to the idea of different learning styles and came up with competing, but complementary, theories. The most commonly accepted model of learning styles today breaks it down into 7 categories:

  • Visual: focuses on spatial understanding
  • Aural: focuses on sounds, music
  • Verbal: focuses on words, speech, and writing
  • Physical: focuses on kinetic movement, textures
  • Logical: focuses on logical reasoning
  • Social: focuses on learning in groups
  • Solitary: focuses on self-study

Each category has specific teaching strategies that go with it. For this article, we focus on the visual learner.

visual learner

Why Visual Learners Struggle

In many schools, the primary way of teaching is still heavily dependent on completing readings and sitting through lectures. Again, this is not an ineffective or inefficient way to teach per se, but for visual learners, it is a struggle to get through a class that focuses entirely on learning via speech.

Visual learners are at their best when they’re given an illustration or visual stimuli from which their brains can start creating stories and narratives. For a visual learner, auditory cues and instructions aren’t processed as fast as with other learners. Lectures can be the bane of visual learners, as the lack of visual stimuli for them means that they’re not going to be interpreting data as much as if there were some kind of visual aid.

When it comes to learning styles, visual learners tend to process data step by step via an analytical process. This means that, theoretically, they can do very well with reading, as the language organization skills of visual learners are better than most.

Although reading does have a visual aspect to it, the repetitiveness of symbols (letters) and the forced memorization of their correct sequence can dishearten a visual learner. Learning in this way can hold back a student whose brain is wired differently, and craves creativity and more dynamic visual stimuli.

Different Ways to Stimulate Visual Learners

ways to stimulate visual learners

Visual learners in the classroom thrive when there are various types of visual stimuli integrated into the lesson. By integrating visuals with a student’s memorization of symbols, we can tap into their visual cortex and engage visual learners without alienating aural and verbal learners. Visuals with symbols (or, in layman’s terms, pictures with words) help visual learners retain information by creating a mental photo for them to remember. When choosing classroom activities, whether it’s for visual learners or other learning styles, try to incorporate as many stimuli as possible so that it reaches and engages as many students as possible. Other strategies can include:

Sight Words

As visual learners rely heavily on their eyes to receive and process data, sight words are one of the most effective activities for visual learners. Sight words are commonly used words that young children are usually taught to memorize as a whole by sight. Broken down into learning the alphabet, educators can use visuals to represent different letters (i.e., the word MOUNTAIN can be drawn as actual mountains in order to provide the student with a visual shape to remember) while still teaching them how each word is sounded out.

Sight words help visual learners and other types of learners because it incorporates multiple learning styles (i.e. visual, verbal, aural, physical, and logical) that ensure no one is left behind.

Alphabet Teaching Cards

Alphabet teaching cards are a great visual guide for educators to engage visual learners along with the rest of the class. Teaching cards like these have colorful pictures that can be used to tell stories. By telling a story using visual aids, speech, audio guides, and even kinetic movement (like dancing or role-playing), you engage visual learners to memorize words and whole sentences by creating a mental “movie” that they can replay in their heads. Using all 4 learning styles at the same time engages the student’s cerebellum more intensely, thereby maximizing their ability to retain the information you’re teaching them.

Again, this type of teaching tool allows students of different learning styles to pick up on the lesson because it engages different senses: visual learners are engaged because it’s visual stimuli, verbal learners learn through the audio guide, physical learners get a feel of the cards which help them remember the lesson, social learners are able to enjoy the lesson because of the interaction the cards have, and even self-learners are able to self-study the lesson if they’re allowed to take home the cards.

Fingermapping

Fingermapping involves using your fingers to represent individual sounds or letters in a word. This technique helps young students, particularly those in pre-school or kindergarten, learn how to correctly sequence specific sounds in a word that they are writing. For visual learners, this is a crucial element for them to literally see the sound of each letter and aiding them in correctly writing down that word. Think of it as giving a map to somebody who has a hard time following verbal instructions: it engages both their visual skills, their auditory skills, their need for speech, their kinetic intelligence, as well as engaging their logical processes.

As a classroom activity, visual learners are able to learn because it gives them a visual aid on how a word works, while physical and social learners are able to be engaged because of the interactive portion of fingermapping. Meanwhile, logical learners are able to learn because fingermapping requires a lot of logical processing.

Markers and Whiteboards

using markers to teach class

Particularly for young students, these tools can be very helpful in aiding them with their reading skills. Although there’s nothing wrong with the use of pencils and paper, it can be a little difficult for some children who are still developing fine motor skills. By using mini whiteboards and markers, you’re able to include all manner of learning styles: the tactile element of holding a whiteboard and a marker gives kinetic learners a great feel of words you’ll be spelling out, while visual and auditory learners are able to see and hear the words they’re writing down. Using oversized markers can also help students develop their fine motor skills. You can reduce the size of these markers over time while still incorporating a visual and kinetic aspect to your lessons.

When using markers and whiteboards for your lessons, make sure you’re able to incorporate visual aids, auditory directions, kinetic motion, logical requirements, social interaction, verbally reading out what they write, and allow them an opportunity to study what they’ve just learned in solitude.

Teaching Patterns in Words

The human brain is predisposed to seeing patterns; it’s our way of making sense of an otherwise chaotic world. For young students, learning the pattern of a particular language’s vocabulary and lexicon are important tools in becoming fluent. When teaching sounds or spelling, it is best to include more than one example of a particular word. In this way, you show students that language has a pattern, and once they see this pattern, it becomes a part of their cognitive process. For visual learners, this is a crucial element to their learning system, and will be invaluable for them in the future.

Again, language organization is one of the strengths of visual learners because it engages their logical process through visual stimuli, allowing them to ‘see’ how words are constructed and how each word logically follows or precedes another. This helps them map out complete patterns in their head.

educators

Keep Your Teaching Style (and Your Teaching Tools) Flexible

In as much as students need to be flexible when learning, educators must also learn how to be flexible with their teaching. As much as possible, create a teaching style that incorporates various types of learning styles so as not to exclude anyone. If possible, remain flexible with how you teach, especially if you are teaching different grades.

As much as possible, use teaching tools that are holistic and meets the diverse needs of you students. In this way, teachers are able to teach students of different learning styles without having to prepare different materials every time. By using teaching tools that require different logical and physical processes from the child, teachers can ensure that every student benefits from the lesson.

Incorporating different teaching styles for different learning styles can be an exciting and fulfilling strategy, especially when you see students retaining information and actually enjoying their lessons.

Public School System

The State of the Public School System

With the student debt crisis in full-swing in our country, and with faith in the public education system at an all-time low, it’s time we took a hard look at our public schools and see what’s going on, what we can do to improve it, and how we can make it beneficial for students again. With around 13,000 school districts spread across the country handling almost 100,000 public schools, it’s hard to paint with a broad brush with regards to how the entire system is holding up.

But even with the daunting challenge of analyzing and evaluating all those schools, many people have come to the harrowing conclusion that the Amercan Public Education System is at the brink of collapse. Critics cite the performance of public schools over the past 40 years, beginning with the “Back to Basics” program of the 70’s and all the way to 1983’s “A Nation at Risk”, critics of the education system state that public school performance has been on a downhill slope. However, with the introduction of the No Child Left Behind policy in 2001, a slight uptick in performance was observed and lauded, even by some of the education system’s harshest critics.

Despite the NCLB, views of the public school system’s future remain bleak. But is this because of real-time results, or the result of vitriolic rhetoric?

Losing Faith

In a 1976 poll by Gallup, 62% of people surveyed say that they had a “great deal” of confidence in the public school system. However, in under a decade, confidence level in the public school system dropped to 39%, and has not risen above 50% since 1987.

The confidence in public schools remained in the high 30’s and mid 40’s from 1999 to 2000. But by the first few years of the 21st century, confidence petered out and averaged in the low-to-mid 30’s. By 2007, one year before the Great Recession and a few years before the start of the student debt crisis, that figured dropped further. With the once-sterling no Child Left Behind Policy cracking under budget constraints and failures of implementation, people started losing faith in our public schools, and in essence, losing faith in students of those schools. By 2014, confidence rate was at an all-time low: only 26% of Americans had a “great deal” of confidence in the public school system, a far cry from the 62% it enjoyed 40 years ago.

public school

These numbers would be understandable if the quality of education in public schools actually did decline. In fact, for all intents and purposes, these confidence levels are a great indication of the American people’s outrage over the government’s failure to provide quality education to our nation’s youth. A decline in quality, therefore, should be the only reason for people to lose faith.

However, that wasn’t the case.

The Numbers

A comprehensive and standardizes testing system that measured student performance was not implemented until 2001. However, through the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the federal government had been able to track and monitor student performance over 50 years before 2001.

Despite the narrow focus of the NAEP (it only measured basic academic skills), and the fact that it was not given to all students across the country (only selected schools every few years), it still showed something surprising: public school performance is great. In fact, it’s even better now than it was back in the 70’s.

It’s worth noting, however, that standardized tests, both by the NCLB policy and the NAEP, show only a fraction of what is actually going on in our public schools: it doesn’t, for instance, measure student engagement, or if students are happy, or if the education they receive is molding them into high-functioning and contributing members of society. But if it’s just academic performance being talked about, it’s showing everyone a snapshot of a school system that is thriving with minimal resources.

So where is all this vitriol coming from?

Theories abound trying to explain the decline in confidence. Some analysts say that this is a symptom of the public’s lack of trust in institutions as a whole, an effect of a floundering economy made worse by wars in the Middle East, gun violence, and a general sense of discomfort with the American government’s questionable ethics over the past decade or so.

But polls show that this is not the case. While confidence levels have declined for public schools, and even more so in Congress, institutions like small businesses, organized labor, and even the military have enjoyed high trust levels from the people.

Perhaps the biggest culprit: strong rhetoric in support of national reform. Over the past few decades, the American public has been bombarded by political messages talking about a crisis in public education without offering much in evidence or numbers. These messages, however, aren’t just confined to politicians: many NGO’s and even philanthropic organizations have constantly complained about the lack of quality in the public school system, while simultaneously promoting their version of educational reform (reform that, arguably, could benefit their organization in the long run).

What It’s Like Right Now

The truth of the matter is, however, that many schools don’t actually need reform. In fact, a majority of the 100,000 public schools (at least, the ones that have been tested) are thriving without it, and have been doing so for several years. Of course, some reform wouldn’t hurt, particularly for schools that are serving financially disadvantaged students. But they don’t reform: they need more funding, more school integration, and more attention.

public schools
Source: National Public Education

The rhetoric that has fueled the distrust of the public school system is not only damaging to the schools themselves, it’s also an indication of our nation’s moral failure. Instead of providing the system with what the law requires, politicians and organizations are twisting the mindset of the general public in order to serve their self-interests.

So, perhaps, a reform is needed, but not the one we think: America’s public school system is fine, people just need to recognize its achievements and stop talking about as if it has failed, because for all intents and purposes, it has succeeded in its mission of providing its students with quality education and stirring interest both in the academe and in civic issues.

If the millennial generation is any indication, it’s safe to say: the kids are doing alright, thanks to the public school system.

Comic Strips to Teach

Using Comic Strips to Teach

Despite the negative press they’ve gotten over the past few decades, comic books and cartoons are actually very effective tools that teachers can use in class. They’re colorful, versatile, and interesting, comic strips can be used for students of various grades, from kindergarten all the way to 9th, even 10th, grade.

An Effective Teaching Tool

The reason behind the efficacy of comic strips as a teaching tool is that it engages students of different learning styles and engaging multiple senses at once. Comic strips help students practice essential skills like reading, understanding visual concepts, understanding context clues, speaking, and ultimately, communicating complex ideas in the span of 3-4 panels. It also evokes thought about provocative issues and can help students understand highly complicated matters in a condensed and succinct form.

Using comic strips can also help young students develop empathy, particularly if the characters in the comic strips are someone they can relate to. In this way, you are teaching them a valuable soft skill that will help them be well-rounded individuals in the future. Depending on the comic strip, it can also make them laugh, helping you ease the tension and stress they may be feeling after being in school for hours.

Again, depending on the comic strip you choose, it can also teach your more mature students about cultural issues surrounding them. Editorial cartoons are a great way to get students thinking; they don’t necessarily have to agree with the image that’s being presented, but they are encouraged to think about the issue and hopefully create logical arguments that will help them make sense of what they’re feeling.

Comic strips are also versatile; they can be used in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from history and literature, to math and science. With the right comic strips, teachers can help students develop their higher-order thinking skills like analysis, evaluation, prediction, inference, and many others.

This multimodal text also helps students gather information from multiple sources; a valuable skill in our post-digital world. This helps them prepare for a digital landscape that is rife with fake information and unresearched data. By teaching them to read comic strips, these students will learn not to take things at face value, but rather delve deeper into a particular thing. It helps them pay attention to detail, and thus, are trained to be aware about the different ways meaning is constructed and communicated.

Comic strips are also a great learning tool for students learning a foreign language. This is because the visual element of it makes it more interesting and easier to process, thereby helping students retain more information about the language they’re learning.

By presenting old information in a new way, you can help students become more engaged and more interested in learning.

comic strips

Integrating Comic Strips in Class

In as much as you, the teacher, can use comic strips to teach, students can also use comic strips to learn. There are various activities that you can moderate that uses comic strips as the main mode of teaching:

Story Telling:

  • Introduce a topic and then task your students to create a 4 to 5 panel comic strip that discusses that issue. Ask your students to create a narrative storyline that is coherent and encourage them to write dialogue that uses natural speech patterns. You can ask them to draw their own panels, or to use resources they find online.

Story Retelling:

  • After making your students read a story, ask them to retell the main plot points of the story using a comic strip. They can draw their own, or, if you want to add a degree of difficulty, ask them to find an example from existing comic strips.

Story Completion:

  • Provide your students with a 4 to 5 pre-designed comic strip panel, but leave the dialogue boxes blank. Then, ask your students to fill in the blanks, making sure to tell a story based only on the other visual elements of the strip. Alternatively, you can also use pre-designed comic strips but with the final panel missing and then ask students to complete the story using inference, prediction, and context clues.

Topic Introduction:

  • Discuss a new topic or issue using a comic strip. The comic strip you choose must reflect the primary idea of your topic without actually revealing it. Ask your students to brainstorm about what they can infer from the comic strip and perhaps try to predict what comes next.

Raise Awareness:

  • Comic strips are a great way to discuss sensitive issues like bullying, sexual misconduct, politics, racism, and other things because it presents these topics in a non-threatening and non-preachy way. Ask your students to emphasize with every character in the comic strip and help them understand the motivation of the characters and the moral implications of their actions.

Teaching Foreign Languages:

  • Comic strips have been shown to be highly effective in teaching foreign languages because it communicates different ideas via multiple mediums. It also gives students a visual image to anchor their lesson on and provides them a clearer mental picture of the contextual situations wherein they can use the phrase or words that you are teaching at the moment.

Practice Speaking Skills

  • Improve your student’s speaking skills by asking them to read aloud a comic strip that you presented or a comic strip that they created, making sure that they are aware of the character’s motivations, speech patterns, and encourage them to give life to the character by adding personality quirks that make sense with context. Alternatively, you can also ask them to continue a comic strip’s story in character in order to flex their inference and communication skills as well as their creativity.

Integrating Comic Strips in Class

Modern and Creative

Many teachers are still hesitant to use comic strips, viewing them as “low brow”. However, there are plenty of comic books and graphic novels out there that are not only visually stunning, they’re also extremely well-written. Educate yourself about the value of comic books and comic strips, and pass on this appreciation to your students.

What’s Taught in Schools and What’s Needed at Work

Bridging the Gap Between What’s Taught in Schools and What’s Needed at Work

One of the primary drivers of the student debt crisis is the inability of many college graduates to find jobs that either relate to their field of study, or because their majors did not prepare them for a life of work.

In today’s digital world, it’s no longer a question of whether or not to follow your dreams: opportunities to monetize your passions are available anywhere you go. However, the combination of competition and a lack of practical skills has been holding back thousands of graduates and creating a crisis of employment. Many feel let-down by an educational system that has ill-prepared them for the rigors of adult life.

To get around this, many graduates go for post-graduate courses, if not to gain more knowledge, then to stave off the inevitable. However, many are disappointed to find that real-life skills are still lacking in the post-grad system, and their continued education means racking up more debt.

Bridging the Gap

A lot of students, rightfully fearing that the real world will offer challenges that school hasn’t prepared them for, take on internships or workshops in a proactive move to self-prepare. But many of these interns are either unpaid or underpaid, and worst of all, their school doesn’t offer much in terms of support other than imposing compulsory attendance, which is not the greatest motivator nor teaching tool.

Despite the changes of the world around us, many schools are still lagging behind: instead of offering courses or classes that teach people what they want, they still rely on old, outdated systems of teaching. Many students are still barred from choosing the classes that they truly want and crafting a customized curriculum that fits both their passion and their need to learn valuable skills. It is disconcerting that, in the 21st century, schools still dictate what students are supposed to learn, regardless of their personal preferences, the skills they need for their future profession, or their passions.

educators

As educators, we need to bridge that gap and (re)create the educational system in such a way that it scales to individual students and their learning styles, their dreams, and their necessities. This doesn’t just apply to college students; from kindergarten onwards, we’re taught to think in binary oppositions, being made to choose between only 1 of 2 things (do you want to be a doctor or an engineer? Are you good at sports or are you good at academics?). Taking this kind of thinking out of our educational system is the first step in advancing our society one individual at a time.

Memorization is great and all, but its real world applications are lacking: when was the last time a rote memorization of algebraic formulas saved us from an actual problem that required algebra (say, calculating grocery expenses or figuring out loan repayments)? Let me be clear: algebra and other mathematic disciplines are essential, but it needs to be taught in such a way that it prepares students for the real world.

Changing the Way we Teach

Learning theory is a great step towards creating a holistic person, but it’s only the first step. Unfortunately, many schools stop here. What we need to teach aside from theory is practice. Applying theory into real-life problems is an ideal that our current system cannot reach, mostly because it’s busy regimenting students into a one-size-fits-all grading system.

 

While it’s good that students are taught the basics of poetry along with trigonometry, teaching the advanced concepts of these disciplines to someone who doesn’t require it (perhaps an athlete or an aspiring painter) and then holding them accountable if they fail, is not only damaging to their ego, it also creates a system that punishes people for pursuing their passion.

Education should not be a factory: we cannot be complicit in the creation of future employees whose only purpose in life is to serve the corporate machinery. This isn’t just some lofty, enlightened ideal either, it’s a mindset that could have profound effects on our economy at large.

We’re seeing this already: many millennials are choosing to forego traditional jobs and distancing themselves from entire industries simply because they’ve learned how to adapt and learn the skills they want on their own. In effect, this has given them the ill-fitting “industry killer” moniker. In reality, however, they’re not the ones killing industries: industries are failing because they can’t cope with the change.

If there’s anything millennials should teach us is that each individual learns things in their own unique way, and designing a system that caters only to perpetuate corporate interests is intrinsically flawed, and will, in fact, run counter to what they want.

How to Course Correct

A complete change in mindset is needed in order to correct our educational system and ultimately create a society that is productive, happy, and advancing itself towards a higher form of knowledge. To do this, we need to address key issues:

  • The individuality of students
  • Their unique needs and passions
  • Proper training in their chosen field
  • Placing value on their mental and emotional health

Changing the Way we Teach

Taking into account the individuality of students means catering to their specific learning styles and adapting to their needs. This isn’t baby-ing: it’s ensuring that every individual receives an education that they can understand and retain.

Once we accomplish this and we reignite a love for learning, then we need to address their unique dreams. Figure out what each student wants and encourage it, rather than telling them it’s impossible. We aren’t just educators, we are enablers of passion.

When we determine what it is that drives our students, then we delve into their training. As I mentioned earlier, learning things that are incidental to their main passion does more good than harm, but continuing to teach them those things even when it’s unnecessary is detrimental in the long run. We must train our students in what they want to learn. Offer them a chance to become experts in their field, rather than holding them back by requiring them to attend classes they no longer need.

And finally, we need to talk about their mental health. Too many schools across the country don’t take into account the psychological and emotional burden we place on our kids. We can’t treat them like children then expect them to act like adults. On the contrary, we need to allow them their youth, and be there to guide them into thinking for themselves. Especially for teenagers, when their hormones are in full swing, educators need to be more sensitive and address not just their academic issues, but their emotional issues as well.

Transforming the educational system should be our ultimate goal. We need to stop creating employees and start creating leaders, innovators, creators, and visionaries.

The Pros of Reading Books and E-Books

On Paper or On Screen? The Pros of Reading Books and E-Books

In the digital age, it seems like anything that can be put on a computer screen will be put into a computer screen, from food delivery and hotels, to taxis and furniture delivery. Over the years, I’ve tried to embrace as much of this technology as I could (for fear of being called a Luddite!), but there was one thing that I only recently started embracing: e-books.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I still love my hardbound collection (even the paperbacks), but e-books have really opened my eyes to the possibilities of technology. But more importantly, it’s also shown me how this technology can inspire the younger generation to read more.

Reading is a fundamental skill most people should know. Unfortunately, the global literacy rate is 86.3 percent which means that a few hundred million people cannot read regardless of the type of literature they are presented with. And in this age where physical books may still be inaccessible to kids learning to read at a young age and even older adults, e-books may be the solution.

ebook vs book static image

I can hear the purists now though, “e-books aren’t real books! Nothing beats paper!” And believe me, I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but trust me, there’s a lot of benefits to e-books. Which isn’t to say that traditional books aren’t great too, they are; it’s just that e-books are not the hardcover killers that people make them out to be. In fact, if done right, e-books can help students appreciate traditional books more.

While browsing the bookstore to buy a gift for that special someone (or yourself), you may be faced with a tough decision: e-books or the old-fashioned kind? The pros and cons of ebooks vary, and choosing the best option depends on a number of factors.

Convenience

For a bibliophile like myself, there’s nothing more impressive than seeing a room with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelves filled with all manner of books. But the problem with that setup? I can’t bring all of those books in my backpack!

books

With e-books, you can fit entire libraries into a single electronic reader. If not a NOOK eReader or any tablet that can read e-books, most smartphones nowadays have apps automatically installed to read e-books. And if it doesn’t, there are many free apps you can download. This makes it convenient when you want to take a break from reading Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and want to continue your reading of Hegel’s Dialectics.

Sustainability

I love the smell of books: the ink, the paper, oh that wonderful smell of paper! Unfortunately, because of society’s mass consumerism and unchecked industry, our forests are being destroyed at a rate that is not only alarming, it’s catastrophic. Aside from the fact that mass book production means tapping into virgin forests to make paper, the process of making books consumes 153 billion gallons of water every year. And that’s not even including the chemicals and organic and inorganic matter released into the oceans and the air because of book production.

While there are few things in life that make me as happy as that new book smell, I need to be practical. E-books are digital, which means there’s no environmental impact in their creation. Yes, the digital readers require resources like rare earth materials and alloys and such, but they are, in the long, more sustainable than buying paper books day in and day out. While the written word on paper is magical, we also need to be practical. Besides, a real reader will find that magic anywhere, whether it’s on a standard 6”x9” sheet or on an electronic screen.

water consumption for book production

The Kids Are Already On It

In 2014, the Library & Information Science Research, a journal dedicated to all things books, conducted a study that focused on more than a hundred 10th graders and their reading habits. They found that an overwhelming majority of these kids preferred e-books over traditional books.

This is an example of technology helping kids to read: newer generations of students are more comfortable with electronic devices, so reading an e-book is more than just preferable, it’s actually interesting for them.

It also helps that most e-book readers also have options to adjust the font size, offer on-screen explanation of difficult words, increasing the brightness, etc. all of which make them more accessible to kids.

So the next time you feel the urge to scold a child for spending too much time on their computer or tablet, bear in mind that they’re probably just reading a book!

E-books help the visually impaired

Children with dyslexia are often turned off by the idea of reading. Unfortunately, because of their condition, dyslexic children are lacking in terms of reading skills and thus have a harder time progressing with their education. However, scientists are discovering that e-book readers might just be a solution to that problem.

e-books

A component of dyslexia is its inefficiency of processing visual information. Because traditional books are static, dyslexics have to struggle with understanding every sentence. However, e-book readers give them an option to increase the text size. This might not seem like much, but for dyslexics, it’s a godsend: studies show that it helps them read more efficiently, and has in fact made it easier for some. This is because larger text sizes mean shorter lines of text, which helps them process information more effectively, and ultimately, making book reading an accessible and enjoyable activity.

E-books Can Provide a More Immersive Experience

I’m not talking about the immersive experience you get when you get so enthralled by a book that you forget you’re sitting in a coffee shop and are suddenly a person inside your book’s universe. I’m talking about the immersive experience of actually hearing and seeing the book come to life.

E-books and audiobooks are on the same wave and can be used for a better reading experience. I’m the type of person who wants to see things or else I get distracted, so I’ve never really been a fan of listening to audiobooks on their own. But I’ve also heard a few audiobooks and how some books hire voice actors to really make the story believable.

books with headphone, metaphor for audio books

Some e-books come with audio files to help improve your reading experience. Unfortunately, not all e-book formats provide this. But if you want this experience, your best bet is to get a Kindle, Nook, or Google Nexus 9. It can make all the difference if you want to hear what the dialogue sounds like (and maybe a guide on how to pronounce those alien names like a true book fan).

But before you start thinking I’m some kind of e-book zealot, let me remind you why I still love traditional books…

People Retain More Information from Paper

Scientists from around the world are finding evidence that reading on paper might actually be much better for retaining data as well as remaining focused. Researchers from Norway’s Stavanger University conducted small-scale studies that tested people’s ability to remember key plot points of stories when read from either a traditional book or an e-book. They found that readers who were using a Kindle scored higher in memory tests as opposed to those reading from paper.

They believe that the tactile sense of paper is what gives it an edge in terms of retaining information: because the book’s weight shifts from right to left as you progress, the brain is more engaged and focused on processing all this data at once, helping it retain as much information as possible. Feeling the weight of the book shift dynamically while you’re reading the story makes it easier for your brain to visualize plot points and other story details.

I told you books were magic!

Traditional Books Help with Eye Strain

One of the biggest drawbacks of e-books is its screen luminance. Even e-book readers that have low-light screens are still emitting artificial light, which interferes with a person’s ability to sleep and putting strain on their eyes. Reading from an e-book reader at night can also impair your body’s production of melatonin.

traditional book

Traditional books don’t have that problem. When reading from a traditional book under good lighting, your eyes relax over time and do not interfere with your body’s sleep cycle. Any reader who’s ever fallen asleep reading a book will attest to this!

In my opinion, one type of book isn’t better than the other: they both have their pros and cons, and at the end of the day, it’s all about preference. If you prefer the smell of books and the thrill of manually turning every page as you make progress with a book, there’s no reason to go digital if you don’t want to. And if you prefer the convenience, ease, and unlimited options you have while using your Kindle, then you can save up on a ton of shelf space and never have to buy another book again. You’ll actually be doing the environment a favor, too!

As for me, well, I like my Kindle; I take it everywhere I go, but that doesn’t mean I’m getting rid of my physical library any time soon!