Connection Counts

Making connections when reading to children is important.

In Tap, Click, Read, Lisa Guernsey and Michael Levine examine e-books. The research surrounding e-books is interesting, but for educators probably not too surprising. According to the book, research has shown that e-books provide some benefits for language acquisition when the digital aspects of the books are incorporated into the narrative, rather than being random and/or distracting from the story. Educators would recognize that anything added to a learning experience needs to enhance it, rather than distract.

One finding that I found most compelling was related to the interactions with parents, children and e-books. A study found that parents interacted more with a physical book than they did with the e-book. With the physical book, parents asked more questions and paused to talk about the story with the child. With an e-book, the parents were more likely to follow the formatting of the book and not add any additional comments of their own. Of course, we need to examine the content that the parents were reading in both cases. Another study found that parents interact more with educational texts when reading to their children and the format (digital vs paper) was not much of a factor.

The takeaway for me is that parents need to support their child’s learning regardless of the format in which it takes place. The authors are clear that we want to choose digital texts that simulate the behavior of teachers and parents, meaning that we are providing support and scaffolding the child’s learning. They also make the statement that good teachers know when to take children off digital devices to make sure they are not just being entertained. However, do parents know when and how to do this? When so many reading apps claim educational value, it is very difficult for parents to know when there truly is valuable instruction occurring. In addition, the scaffolding that takes place with e-books can be quite valuable to early readings, but again, would parents know when to remove the scaffolding and move children to the next level? As digital texts are so new and we are just beginning to understand their potential and shortcomings, it is difficult for educators and parents to have a solid understanding of how best to use them with children.

One thought on “Connection Counts

  1. It is so challenging.

    A shift in how we approach digital devices since the early days is interesting to me: At the beginning, everyone was on their own scrolling the app store and trying to make judgments about what might make our lives better or at least provide goo entertainment.

    Now, at least among educators, there is a shift to instead finding reliable and generous sources of information about making these judgments. I never scroll the app store any more. I follow the blogs/ twitter of a handful of solid organizations or professionals who share the apps that they’ve judged to be more valuable than others as part of their professional lives. That’s the “connected” part of this class: with whom do we connect that is doing reliable curation of solid tools and resources to support learning? I’m not sure that I’m explaining this well, but a goal can be that parents are tapped into a focused network of people online who are helping them to make good judgments because you’re right — most parents aren’t prepared to make those judgments themselves, alone, one-by-one. Then, as the field keeps developing deeper understanding of all of this, they’re tapped into those developments too.

    This can be teachers, groups like Common Sense, early childhood advocates, others.


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