Computers have changed things quite a bit in regards to reading and writing. Cell phones have added to that change. For example would our grandparents have known what the heck “lol, 2 fny! Brb” means? I’m gonna have to say no. We often adapt to technology without even realizing just what sacrifices or changes we’re making or how they’ll affect us. Reading online is much different from reading the printed page. Writing too has changed. No longer is cursive the handwriting of the day, typing has taken it’s place, perhaps due to efficiency. Well, whatever the case were here now and today’s online classes require a few different skills to keep up. Let’s talk a little about reading and writing for online courses.

When we read on the internet or on a computer it is not like reading in a book. Sure we can go bonkers if we look too long at the screen just like we can when focusing intently on a book for a few hours, but the added shine of the screen (unless you’re using a Kindle or Nook) adds to the strain that your eyes get. So, to keep yourself sharp try setting a little timer to remind you to stand up, take a little walk and grab a glass of water. This will help maximize your ability to focus and we all need focus when studying for classes.

Another thing that helps with online reading is knowing how to increase the font on a page. I use this almost every day. There are two ways to increase the size of what you’re looking at on a computer. For PC users (There’ll be similar options for Mac users) you can click “ctrl+’+’” to increase the font on a given website. It will also increase the size of images. You can shrink the size by clicking “ctrl+’-’” and return the page to its original size by clicking “ctrl+’0’”. In Word and Excel documents simple slick ctrl and scroll up on your mouse or mouse pad to increase the font and down to decrease it. This method also works on webpages. Occasionally it may not work. This happens when you’re on a video site or if your cursor is located in a form on the page, in which case you usually just need to click your cursor somewhere on a white section of the page. It should then work.

When reading many pages at one time you may also wish to learn how to get your browser or document to auto-scroll. I won’t share how here, but just google it.

Writing has also changed quite a bit. We are not avid texters, typers and copy and pasters. Most interaction on the web is done via text, so it’s become an important skill for us to learn. Along with typing efficiently, it is valuable to be able to type effectively. Spell checker is wonderful, but can be a crutch on which you do not wish to rely. Make sure to scan before sending each text communication. It’s amazing just how much I’ve caught by doing this to my own work.

You may also wish to try a voice to text application that can transcribe your words as you talk in to a head mic. It can take some time to learn how to use a program like Dragon Naturally Speaking or Dictate (for Mac users), but if you ever want your dreams of logging the star dates like Captain Kirk or Picard to come true, you’re going to want to get started sooner than later.

While there are differences in reading and writing for online college students there are also ways to hone those new skills and to keep them from frustrating your plan of learning. Keep at it and you’ll do great!

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