Can technology help with children’s literacy?
3 experts and 2 parents have answered
Children are surrounded by technology from birth. It’s not just the devices we use to keep them safe and comfortable, we immerse them in content to entertain and teach them as they grow up. Interactive toys and educational tools can turn learning into an adventure that helps kids develop their literacy skills.
Technology delivers a huge range of media to young people, and much of the content is educational. The difference between now and the pre-digital age is that consumption also encourages productivity. From tablet apps to online gaming, children are interacting and communicating rather than simply viewing or reading.
Dr. Christina Clarke is Head of Research at the National Literacy Trust and has conducted studies which show that children who use online publishing tools such as social media platforms and blogging services enjoy writing more than those who don’t (57% vs 40% respectively).
Clarke says the debate isn’t whether children should use new technologies, because it’s inevitable that they will. Instead, she argues that we should use technology to ‘tap into a young person’s passion and confidence in these forms of writing to build core skills.
‘Practicing writing, in whatever form, makes perfect.’
Although we tend to think of the web as a text-based platform, video consumption is on the rise and may have an adverse affect on literacy. Video use in social media is increasing and taking the place of the written word. While we’re not quite lamenting the dying art of texting yet, young people could be more attracted to watching and filming than reading and writing.
However the publishing world evolves, it’s a safe bet that children will have more choice about what they watch or read, simply because there will be more content available to them. The more opportunities there are, the greater the challenge of picking the right one, and as parents we should continue to help our kids make the right decisions.
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I very much agree with @Cliff. The question assumes that technology can be absent from literacy. Technology is part of children's literacy in the 21st century. The absence of technology can potential be a hinderance for children. That doesn't mean using iPads and computers to teach our children. Instead look for at the technology as another literacy.
The questions I ask when using technology in education, specifically teaching literacy in the age of technology: Does the child read, write, manipulate, create, and understand the fundamentals behind the website, app, program they are using? Can the child create something meaningful with the technology instead of being only directed by these tools? Is the child able to read, comprehend, compose, communicate with the tools of their generation?
Literacy is not just about learning to read and write. It is being able to communicate, comprehend and think! Kids will need to be literate with technology and without.
If the question was: Are there applications and other technologies that help kids learn to read? We might have some other answers :)
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I would add that certain uses of technology could be considered 'new' literacies. As a child, I learned to write poems, stories, explanations, reports, letters, instructions etc as my teachers prepared me to be broadly literate later in life. I was never taught how to comment on a blog, write my own blog posts, the difference between a wiki, a forum and a blog or how to compose an email though. This is because those things didn't exist back when I was at school. But they do now, and to deny young people the opportunity to learn those 'new' literacy skills is to deny them potential opportunities later in life. More here: http://dughall.com/?p=252
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I am finishing my book on motivating the reluctant reader through technology. If you search for this you will find my web site or LinkedIn where there is a link to several webinar a I have done on this exact topic. The simple answer is technology does help if used strategically. It is also the medium by which they will read most to all content. Not only will technology help wi literacy, it also will dramatically help with independent reading. What is the best thing to do after reading a book? Most want to talk about it, share it, discover more about the characters...
Technology can do all of that and a bag of chips. Think video conferencing, virtual book clubs and the list goes on and on...
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An amazing experience shared by Sarah Mulhern Gross about how the use of technology, inphographics particularly, can motivate kids to read http://www.edutopia.org/blog/infographics-students-reading-history-sarah-gross