5 Excellent Tools to Enhance Students Reading and Writing Skills in Digitally Focused Environments

February 4, 2016
Deep thinking is key to deep learning which in turn is only possible through total immersion. In an age full of all kinds of digital distractions, the notion of deep learning is fading away driving several neuroscientists and media scholars to sound the alarm about the destructive effect of new technologies on our literacy practices. We wouldn’t go so far to claim, as Mark Bauerlein does in Dumbest Generation, that the Internet culture is dumbing us down but signs of intellectual debilitation are conspicuously visible.New technologies have created digitally focused environments with multi-sensory stimuli that chop away our attention and divides our focus. In yesterday’s posts we have reviewed some good books that document and explicate the impact of technology on learning and cognition. We have also seen examples of web tools and mobile apps to fight off distraction. In today’s post we are adding more resources in this direction. These are 4 great tools to help students and learners keep sustained focus while reading and writing. These tools work toward eliminating all the digital noise and distractions that usually accompany digital text online. We invite you to check them out and share with your students. Enjoy1- Instapaper

Instapaper is a great Chrome extension to use for bookmarking web pages for offline reading. Instapaper provides you with a distraction-free environment where you can read your saved stuff without the clutter of the web. The reading experience provided simulates the non digital one. Instapaper is free to use but you need to register and create your own account.2- Readability

This is definitely a must have tool for online readers. Readability turns any web page into a comfortable reading view by disabling all the clutter and noise surrounding web content.It also provides some key features such as creating personal reading lists, automatic syncing with of your reading lists with Kindle and many more.3- Read Mode

Read Mode puts your Chrome into a pleasant reading experience.’Just click on the glasses icon in the address bar, the current page will turn into a nice-to-read black on white page allowing you to read without forcing your eyes. Ads and Flash animations are also removed while on read-mode. Click the icon again and everything will go back to normal’

 Draft provides you with a distraction free environment where you can put your thinking into words. One of the things that I like the most about this tool is the ” Hemingway Mode”. When this mode is activated, no editing is allowed till you finish what you are writing. Draft also supports image inclusion and has a collaborative feature like the one in Google Docs. Draft users can invite others to work on the same writing task with the ability of leaving synchronous feedback for each other. However, to use Draft you do need to log in with a valid email and a password.

Titan Pad is a writing platform that allows users to collaboratively write and work on a document in a clutter-free environment. It also has the same exciting features the two tools above have like: instant editing and sharing, 

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