Digital Texts, iPads, and Families: An Examination of Families' Shared Reading Behaviours

By Katrina McNab and Ruth Fielding-Barnsley.

Published by The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 1, 2014 Free Download

Research into new ways of reading that employs digital tablet devices is scarce, particularly with regard to one-to-one implementation in schools in low socio-economic populations. This descriptive mixed methods study investigates the digital reading practices of families and their 4-7 year old children located in a socio-economically disadvantaged community in Tasmania, Australia. Families read digital texts (ebooks and iBooks) on school provided iPads and participated in a six-week shared reading initiative. As the project required an in-depth understanding of families’ experiences, a mixed methodology approach was adopted. Analysis indicates that families were not always exploiting the unique features of digital texts to support their children’s literacy development. Two-way knowledge exchange activities between the home and school may serve to mediate this phenomenon. Thus, the findings of the study suggest that the inclusion of parent training sessions should be an important consideration when implementing home-school digital shared reading initiatives. Leaders in schools and departments of education need data on programme effectiveness such as this and on issues faced by stakeholders when implementing these kinds of programmes to make good decisions about where to invest technology resources.

Keywords: Literacy, Family, Home-school Partnerships, Digital-divide, eBooks

The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review, Volume 20, 2013, pp.53-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 1, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 442.558KB)).

Katrina McNab

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania, Burnie, Tasmania, Australia

Katrina graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Education (Honours) and a keen interest in early childhood literacy. Katrina’s interest in the areas of home-school partnerships and reading programmes intensified during her time as an early childhood teacher. In 2011, she returned to the University of Tasmania as a PhD candidate to investigate the effects of 1:1 iPad initiatives on home-school partnerships and early literacy development. Katrina’s research and professional interests include early years education, technology in education, 1:1 initiatives, design thinking, home-school partnerships, early literacy development, and bridging the digital divide. She is excited about the opportunities new technologies offer teachers who are catering for the unique needs of each parent and child, igniting a passion for learning, and creating meaningful and authentic relationships between school and home.

Assoc. Prof. Ruth Fielding-Barnsley

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Ruth is an Associate Professor in Literacy at The University of Tasmania and has had a long standing research interest in family literacy and new technologies. Her main interest has been in developing literacy skills with children from low SES backgrounds. Ruth’s latest research project has seen the development of apps that help children to discover the alphabetic principle and phonemic awareness; Profs’ phonics and Profs’ smar-test.