Opinion
Education Opinion

What Pottermore Points Us Towards

By LeaderTalk Contributor — June 24, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

by Ryan Bretag | @ryanbretag

J.K. Rowling’s announcement of Pottermore points us towards a new context for literacy, a context where the book and therefore our habits of reading are evolving through the affordance of digital tools and digital texts. Watching this video introduction by Rowling herself speaks to these changes:

There is a uniqueness to online reading Creation of new reading experiences The innovative possibilities of online books is growing and powerful The importance of "you" to the reading of books—the immersion and social aspects possible in the digital world with social media The Digital Generation expects a different experience Digital reading creates a new level of relevance for readers Sharing, participating, and rediscovering are keys to a reading experience beyond just that between the author and the reader or a face to face environment Shaping and personalizing the experience The power of story-telling (Sony calls this "the future of story-telling" ) with multimedia, gaming, and social media

The trademark for Pottermore shows the leveraging of the social and the connected: “providing multiple-user access to a global computer information network, [...] on-line chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among users in the field of general interest [and] on-line facilities for real-time interaction with other computer users concerning topics of general interest.” When you couple this with the eBook release, this shifts the notion of the reading experience to one aligned with How People Learn and what Kevin Kelly calls Booking:

Booking produces relationships. Booking is a process that connects readers, authors, characters, ideas, and stories into complex webs. There will be a million ways to weave these relationships—including the ancient path of a linear story that runs interrupted on deadtree paper. But that is but one way to weave the web. (Kelly)

What does this mean for our habits as readers? How is this shifting the vary notion of reading and reading experiences? How does the customized and social possibilities afforded by digital reading require a rethinking of pedagogy? What does this do the value of reading digitally and social media tool utilization with reading? What does this mean for our beliefs about literacy and teaching literacy? What does this mean for the classroom and the evolution of how we approach literature and other texts?

Rowling herself speaks to the movement to eBooks:

It is my view that you can’t hold back progress. E-books are here and here to stay. Later than a lot of people, I for the first time downloaded e-books and it’s miraculous for travel and for children in particular. I feel great about taking Harry into this new medium. (Rowling)

But, more important than just digitizing the Potter series, Rowling is taking the digital experience further and exploring the edge of possibilities with digital reading: “We knew there was a big demand for ebooks, but ... I wanted it to be something more than that. I wanted to pull it back to the reading, to the literary and story experience...”

This is exactly what Booking points to and what the Horizon Report has been predicting because of the potential of digital texts:

Audiovisual, interactive, and social elements enhance the informational content of books and magazines. Social tools extend the reader’s experience into the larger world, connecting readers with one another and enabling deeper, collaborative explorations of the text. (Horizon Report)

And, this is key. The experience of reading digitally and the realization of just how powerful it can be especially when connected to new and powerful reading habits, literacy, and engaging, immerse experiences. And, how powerful it is when it leverages networks, connections, and social learning.

For teachers, this is a challenge (it surely was for me until I viewed it as a reader and not a teacher). Do we hold on to our beliefs about the smell and feel of a book, the ways we want reading to be because it is what we know? Or, do we embrace what is possible for literacy, for engagement, for life? As Rowlings herself points out in the video, “The experience of reading requires the imagination of the author and the reader work together.” This has always been the case. She just plans to take it to a whole new level. What about schools? What are they doing to understand and leverage this shift?

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: October 27, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Vulnerable Students Left Behind as Schooling Disruptions Continue
The effects of unpredictable stretches at home can mirror those of chronic absenteeism and lead to long-term harm to learning.
4 min read
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Richard Drew/AP
Education 'Widespread' Racial Harassment Found at Utah School District
The federal probe found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word and other racial epithets, and harsher discipline for students of color.
1 min read
A CNG, compressed natural gas, school bus is shown at the Utah State Capitol, Monday, March 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. After a winter with back-to back episodes of severe pollution in northern Utah, lawmakers and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will discuss clean air legislation and call for government and businesses to convert to clean fuel vehicles.
Federal civil rights investigators found widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students in the Davis school district north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP