by Vicky Zygouris-Coe
Can e-readers reframe student learning? Although I don’t have a definitive answer to this question, I would at least like to say that they have the potential to do so. I believe three key factors that influence the potential of e-readers include: 1) having an understanding of e-readers and instruction using Mishra & Koehler’s technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) framework; 2) having knowledge about how children and adolescents learn in a highly networked world, and 3) using ebooks as an important part of a curriculum that values 21st century learning. With these conditions, exciting things can happen using e-readers.
E-readers are used extensively in many school districts around the nation for many purposes, ranging from motivation to supporting students with disabilities. E-readers are practical, mobile, portable, and some are highly interactive. E-readers’ built-in features (e.g., text-to-speech, speech-to-text, magnification) provide support to all learners, and especially to students with disabilities. Students can use e-readers to read books of their choice, read classroom e-books, conduct research, access primary and secondary sources, listen to books online, use dictionaries, and access and construct all kinds of information. E-readers can support and extent reading and learning, and can be used to exchange and present information, and collaborate with others on problem solving.
Literacy is a personal, relational, and social process. I like to think of literacy as an apprenticeship; this perspective implies that the role of the teacher is one of a facilitator and the role of the student one of a mentee. In that context, some questions I consider when thinking about the potential of e-readers with students include the following:
- How can I use e-readers to support students’ interests and learning goals?
- How can I design my instruction to facilitate critical thinking skills that enable students to read, comprehend, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, create, and share new information?
- Am I using e-readers in my classroom to gradually shift the control of learning to the student?
- How can I promote readers’ self-awareness and comprehension monitoring when reading text on an e-reader?
- Do I model how students use e-readers to read and comprehend literary and informational text?
- Do I teach my students how to text-code using e-reader features, make and exchange notes about a book and/or project, and critically analyze text?
- How would I use technology to teach students how to use e-reader features to “fix” meaning when it fails?
- How might e-readers be used in my classroom to promote student-student collaboration (peer reading and writing, literature circles), exchange of information with others, and collaborative development of projects, reports, and ideas?
Although we should continue to learn, use, and incorporate more technology into our classrooms, let’s move it from the periphery to the center of learning in the 21st century classroom. By offering students systematic instruction and support in using e-readers for personal and collaborative learning purposes, we will also be fostering their motivation to learn and go after their own questions, goals, and interests. E-readers have the potential to make the reading and learning process interactive, motivating, and meaningful. However, simply adopting e-readers is not a guarantee for increased independent reading and improvement of the reading process. Success with e-readers depends on our ability to find ways to use them in the classroom to support, extend, and reframe student learning.
Mishra, P. & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054
Vicky Zygouris-Coe is an associate professor in Reading Education at the University of Central Florida, School of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, Vassiliki.Zygouris-Coe@ucf.edu.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).