Learning from Print
University of San Jose State University is researching if reading from a computer screen is improving our ability to learn. Their conclusion is that it does not. In fact, their research is showing that even current university students – all members of the first digital generation – learn better when they read printed books and documents rather than screens.
In 2010, a group of college students were tested on their ability to learn from printed and digital texts. Both groups were encouraged to highlight, underline, and take marginal notes. The students were given as much time as they thought they needed to absorb the material. Then they were tested on their understanding of what they had read. Those who had read the printed material earned scores about 10 points higher than those who had studied the exact same material on a screen.
Even more interesting to the research team was that those who read the printed material were far more accurate than the on-screen readers in predicting their own test scores. The researchers concluded that on-screen learners had a more difficult time understanding the material they were reading than the readers of printed material. In addition, they had a much harder time judging their own comprehension of what they had read. In other words, the people who read from a screen thought they were learning, but they really weren’t.
More research is being done but these early conclusions suggest a few new ideas.
First, it may be time for all of us to encourage more printing in the office. No one wants to promote unnecessary printing. However, when the material is of strategic importance or when major decisions have to be made, the value of handing out printed materials should not be overlooked. Printed handouts can help the team to understand more, and better understanding leads to better decisions.
Second, these results highlight the importance of a solid print management program. This program will help control costs and ensure that the printers are well supplied and operating flawlessly. In addition, it may also be valuable to have an intelligent print routing system. A print routing system can make decisions in real time based on document context as to print or not print. OM Plus CDP (Context Delivery Plus) offers such capabilities. It seems even in the digital age there is still benefit for printing in a intelligent manner.