Reading and Studying on the Screen, and, Addendum: two articles


  • Mark Nichols The UK Open University



cognitive load, learning design, online-only, on screen, print


As distance education moves increasingly towards online provision, and because of the benefits provided by online approaches, students will be expected to engage with more resources available on screen. Contemporary forms of reading from the screen include reading from tablet devices, LCD monitors, and smartphones. However, print remains the preferred means of reading text, and student preference for print is accentuated when reading involves thorough study (Ackerman & Lauterman, 2012; Foasberg, 2014). Education providers face an interesting challenge. Although many learners prefer having access to printed materials, on-screen reading can improve education’s convenience, portability, media-richness, engagement, support, and data-evidenced practice. In this context it is timely to consider the potential for on-screen reading from the perspective of learning design. This article considers studies related to reading on screen, and suggests good practice principles for on-screen-only learning design.

In 2016 the article “Reading and Studying on the Screen: An Overview of Literature Towards Good Learning Design Practice” was published. The article overviewed comparative studies related to reading on screen and reading from print, and proposed recommendations for on-screen learning design. This addendum to that article considers additional studies that have been analysed in subsequent blog posts (see “An Update to ‘Reading and Studying From the Screen’” [] and “A Further Update to ‘Reading and Studying From the Screen’” []) up to the end of November 2018. As this is an invited addendum, I’ll take the opportunity to adopt a more personal and self-disclosing style to talk more about my own position and experience regarding digital education and on-screen reading. This piece alternates is both scholarly and polemic.


Author Biography

Mark Nichols, The UK Open University

Director, Technology Enhanced Learning