Reading with Software is Better than Paper: Principle 5, “Delve Deeply”, of Cognitive Productivity with macOS

Many people are still not convinced that software is better than paper for reading in depth. I believe this is largely because current software is, in fact, not designed for this purpose. It’s also that the majority of people haven’t figured out how to select and utilize e-reading software. One can shoehorn learning strategies on top of the best reading software.

I’ve dedicated much of my professional life since 2001 to understanding what it would take for people to be able to learn deeply by reading and practicing with software. I’ve been designing new software and strategies for learning with current software. Cognitive Productivity and Cognitive Productivity with macOS® demonstrate that learning with (the right) software is far better than with paper and pen —for that small minority of people who really wish to improve themselves with knowledge.

Last month, I published Assess Analytically, which is Principle 3 of Cognitive Productivity with macOS®®. That principle helps you identify knowledge resources that are worth processing in depth. Yesterday, I published Principle 5, “Delve Deeply”. That chapter contains tips for identifying, understanding and utilizing knowledge gems within helpful documents (and other types of resources).

The “Delve Deeply” chapter contains 26 screencasts so far, plus images. I’ve focused on Preview and Skim PDF readers, because they’re both quite good for delving PDFs. I argue that Skim is the most potent of the two apps. However, the strategies you’ll learn in this chapter can also (to some extent) be applied with other readers, including with iBooks, which I briefly review.

I will later expand the Note-Taking section, with outlining and diagraming examples. And I will deal with other types of media (e.g., podcasts and videos), which I began to do in the Delve chapter of Cognitive Productivity.

Looking forward to Part 3 of the book, the next set of principles in Cognitive Productivity with macOS®® will help you master the subset of knowledge gems in resources you’ve delved. That involves productive practice (Principle 6) and reflective practice (Principle 7).

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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