Digital Readability
at the Adobe Education Summit


In a quick Lightning Learning Keynote at the Adobe for Education Summit, Dr. Rochelle (Shelley) Rodrigo of the University of Arizona speaks to the importance of teaching students to personalize digital text formats.

Adobe Education Summit, Dr. Shelley Rodrigo, University of Arizona, Digital ReadabilityDr. Rodrigo begins by discussing why it matters that the “mythical best font for everyone” does not exist. “If reading is a highly personalized or individualized experience, that would mean that the minute digital reading is locked into a specific font, font size and spacing, it’s going to immediately undermine the ability of students to be successful,” she notes. This is critically important in education for learning, and also in assessment and high-stakes testing, like the SAT.

The educational experience requires students to engage with reading in many different contexts involving extended and engaged use of cognitive reasoning. Without a personalized text format, there can be a significant impact on the reader’s cognitive load, she explains. “Before the student thinks about the content, their brain is having to work harder just to parse the letters and the words on the screen; they have to work harder just to do the reading before they can begin to understand what they are reading.” Further, “If we have students not working with their most effective and efficient readability format then it means their brain is having to work that much harder doing the reading, doing the learning, or in assessment, showing that they have learned something,” she notes.

Dr. Rodrigo encourages educators to work with students to learn what their most effective and efficient fonts are so that they can begin to make changes when the opportunity is available. She explains that it is important to show students what is possible in the apps they use to read including using Adobe Reader with Liquid Mode to read PDF documents and the reader preferences available in Vital Source, a digital textbook platform in use at the University of Arizona.

In short, Dr. Rodrigo asks that educators make students aware that reading formats matter and encourage them to think about what is working best for them so that they can adapt the format whenever readability features are available.

Adobe Education Summit- Digital Readability video

Click to access the video on Adobe’s site, (the session starts at 1:09:18). Registration is free.



About Dr. Shelley Rodrigo: Rochelle (Shelley) Rodrigo is the Senior Director of the Writing Program; Associate Professor in the Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English (RCTE); and Associate Writing Specialist (Continuing Status) in the Department of English at the University of Arizona. She researches how “newer” technologies better facilitate communicative interactions, specifically teaching and learning. As well as co-authoring three editions of The Wadsworth/Cengage Guide to Research, Shelley also co-edited Rhetorically Rethinking Usability (Hampton Press). Her scholarly work has appeared in Computers and Composition, C&C Online, Technical Communication Quarterly, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, Enculturation¸ as well as various edited collections. In 2021 she was elected Vice President (4-year term including President) of the National Council of Teachers of English and won the Arizona Technology in Education Association’s Ruth Catalano Friend of Technology Innovation Award; in 2018 she became an Adobe Education Leader, and in 2014 she was awarded Old Dominion University’s annual Teaching with Technology Award, in 2012 the Digital Humanities High Powered Computing Fellowship, and, in 2010 she became a Google Certified Teacher/Innovator.