More and more technology is being adopted in the classroom to facilitate student learning. Recent initiatives established by the no child left behind act have strengthened educators desire to ensure that all students achieve an acceptable level of literacy by grade three. As such educators have adopted various techniques including use of technology to support literacy in the classroom. Studies suggest that technology use in the classroom is beneficial for promoting literacy. This report examines the various technologies that are effective and what techniques can be adopted to facilitate student literacy at the K-3 level with regard to literacy.
What Techniques Have Been Tried
Computers are considered "versatile tools" that can support a wide range of scholastic activities including facilitating reading in the classroom (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002). As such more and more classrooms are inundated with technology tools to facilitate learning. Computers are used more often than other forms of technology to facilitate student learning. Multiple techniques have been tried and tested to help educators determine what tools are best suited to facilitate student learning in the classroom. Content contained in classroom computer software programs typically supports core curriculum subjects (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002).
Within the classroom a variety of resources and software materials are made available; techniques include reference or searchable databases, drill and practice exercises where students participate in question and answer sessions, educational game sessions where students are challenged to solve problems within the context of a narrative, electronic book reading where page-turning frames are used so students can enjoy fully illustrated texts, and creative tool use that includes text and image processors to stimulate student reading and reciting (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002: 8).
The no child left behind act has recently committed schools to ensuring that children can read by the end of third grade (Lafferty, 2002) hence more and more schools are incorporation reading research programs using technology to facilitate greater literacy. Other techniques that are being applied resulting from the no child left behind pressure include fully featured online curricula that target specific reading skills (Lafferty, 2002).
Most of these programs focus on skills central to reading including phonemic awareness, vocabulary, text comprehension, phonics and fluency (Lafferty, 2002). Standards-based curriculum and variations of talking books have been used, blending various teaching modalities that incorporate the use of sight, sound and touch in learning (Lafferty, 2002).
Talking books that blend each of the modalities also prove effective for encouraging reading fluency particularly as they enable kids to practice phonemics and reading fluency via electronic books (Lafferty, 2002). There are multiple versions of this including LeapFrog's LeadPad and Compass Learning's PlayBox Theme Time (Lafferty, 2002).
Under What Conditions Were Technologies Effective
Technology proved most effective when utilized in structured classroom settings rather than in the home or other environments (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002). Studies suggest that while parents have strong aspirations that technology in the home would facilitate learning in children K-3 age, most students this age used computers for gaming rather than reading or learning (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002).
Studies further suggest that students felt work processing, educational games and reference CD-ROMs proved most effective for stimulating reading proficiency even at the K-3 level (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002). Interventions in the classroom that proved effective included direct teacher involvement in reading activities and direct orchestration of the content and motive of children's computer activity time (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002). Drill and practice software also resulted in higher achievement rates though not as high as educational gaming (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002).
Conditions that provided an entertaining approach to learning and reading, and include activities that teach the alphabet blend more "seamlessly" into any language arts curriculum; students tend to "find themselves enthralled by the sights, sounds and stories in these enjoyable activities" and hence are more conducive to reading proficiency and learning (Lafferty, 2002: 18). One can conclude based on the research done thus far that technology is most effective in an environment that offers comprehensive and interact tools that encourage full participation and active student engagement.
Many of the programs currently offered in classrooms enable teachers to measure student's progress and align their teaching plans to meet student's needs (Lafferty, 2002). Learners can use…