Reading on screen research and background

When Blayn and I presented the Reading On Screen site at the Higher York eLearning Conference on 4 June, I introduced the project explaining its rationale and drawing upon some research in the field. I have recorded the presentation and have made the slides available via Slideshare. You can watch/view here:


Matt’s top tips for desk days

OK, so we all do it… those days where you spend the entire day sat at your desk staring at that rectangular glare that seems to get brighter and more intense as the hours tick on.

We’ve already advised you to take screen breaks. It might sound obvious, but this means actually moving away from the screen and not looking at anything with an electrical plug attached to it for at least five minutes every hour. When you work at a computer, your eyes are fixed in one position for extended periods of time. Think about the last time you blinked whilst reading this! It’s amazing our eye balls don’t look like the parched sands of the Sahara. Dried out and tired eyes lead to headaches, and so does dehydration.

In addition to screen breaks, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids whilst at work. Drinking plenty seems to me to be the simplest preventative measure against screen fatigue. I regret the days when I’ve forgotten to bring in my bottles of water, as come 2pm, I get sluggish and that headache brews – unlike the cup of tea I should have made myself earlier.

Finally, ensure that you’re working in a suitably lit environment. Don’t have the glare of the sun directly behind your monitor as you’re exposing your eyes to too many sources of light (different intensities and colours of light). Use blinds to block direct sunlight, use table lamps to illuminate your workspace, and learn how to set the brightness of your monitor to suit both the environment you work in and to make it comfortable on your eyes.


About the Reading On Screen site

New to the site? Download our quick guide first [PDF].

Who this site is for

  • Anyone spending lots of time reading on screen
  • Anyone looking to ditch pen and paper
  • Anyone wanting to know how to get the most out of their mobile device

What we offer

  • A ‘cheat-sheet’ to get you started: Reading On Screen Handout [PDF]
  • Helpful tips and tricks for different devices and documents (search at top)
  • Links to guides and videos

What you can do

  • Rate the pages that work for you
  • Comment with your feedback and suggest other resources we should link
  • Complete the form below to help with our research

We’re really pleased to launch this site available in direct response to student feedback at the University of York.

More than ever before, students have such a vast amount of digital literature available to them via the University Library and resources their teaching staff have posted on the Yorkshare VLE to support their studies.

We find that the techniques used for paper-based study are different from those required to engage with digital resources. What we have found from discussions with students is that these techniques are not taught, and are often unknown. Annotation, as one example, is a different process using digital devices than with pen and paper. At first, digital annotation may seem laborious, but, as with all things, practising the skill makes it easier. Similarly, the way documents are presented on screen can be improved with a few simple tricks such as using full-screen view or reading views built into software.

Our aim is to help students discover these tricks, tell us which ones work, and encourage comments and contributions with your suggestions and approaches to reading on screen.

Happy reading!

Matt Cornock
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York

Blayn Parkinson
Elearning Development Team, University of York