Can Digital Reading Improve the Academic Experience?

Get a cup of your favorite tea and join Tea for Teaching podcast hosts John Kane and Rebecca Mushtare as they discuss reading in a digital environment with Dr. Jenae Cohn of Stanford University. The episode, Pedagogies of Care: Digital Reading, previews Dr. Cohn’s new book, Skim, Dive, Surface: Strategies for Digital Reading in the College Classroom, which will be released by West Virginia University Press.

The author discusses the possibilities that digital reading offers to help students make the best reading choices for themselves. Jenae sees the flexible reading environment as “more open and inclusive…finding promise and hope for readers to be more flexible in different ways of reading, especially when it comes to an academic context.” 

One of the obvious benefits is that digital reading provides flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences. Jenae describes how accessibility features that are part of digital technologies can make a difference for all learners and are part of a Universal Design for Learning philosophy. (UDL* includes guidelines for the development of flexible learning environments.) She notes, “All students benefit because it gives the students multiple models for engaging.” 

When you open up new possibilities for reading in digital spaces, you get to include so many more people who maybe never thought of themselves as readers.

Dr. Jenae Cohn

Jenae’s enthusiasm is felt in the podcast; she describes the most compelling reason for using digital reading is to engage “many more people who maybe never thought of themselves as readers.” Unfortunately, today many individuals still prefer paper materials and are resistant to other modes of reading. Jeane describes the potential impact of offering digital reading. In a paper only model, we exclude so many people that with digital affordances could enjoy reading more and become more productive. Cohn wants to provide functionality for “people who want to be excited about reading.”

Dr. Jenae Cohn, Stanford UniversityListen to the Tea for Teaching Podcast with Jenae Cohn, “Pedagogies of Care: Digital Reading” to hear more about the book, digital reading, and support for mobile technology in the classroom.


About Jenae Cohn  Jenae Cohn, Ph.D. writes and speaks about teaching and learning in digital spaces. She works as an Academic Technology Specialist in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. Find more of Jenae’s work at


Skim, Dive, Surface: Strategies for Reading in the College Classroom

About  Tea for Teaching This podcast is a series of informal discussions of innovative and effective practices in teaching and learning. This podcast series is hosted by John Kane (an economist) and Rebecca Mushtare (a graphic designer). John and Rebecca run the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the State University of New York at Oswego. 

*UDL: Universal Design for Learning is an educational framework based on research in the learning sciences, including cognitive neuroscience, that guides the development of flexible learning environments and learning spaces that can accommodate individual learning differences.