DK Travel AppTechnology in the classroom is changing how children learn and how we teach. While some children are reading books about castles, others are using the DK Eyewitness App to explore castles.

In her article Digital Literacies, Lotta Larson (2009, p.255) points out the today's readers are "immersed in multimodal experiences and, consequently, have a keen awareness of the possibility of combining modes and media to receive and communicate messages. This awareness results in an urgent need for teachers and researchers to address the discrepancy between the types of literacy experiences students encounter at school (paper, pencil, and print texts), and those they practice in their daily lives outside the school environment (Web 2.0). One way to bridge such incongruity is to expand the types of texts students are exposed to and engaged with at school by turning attention to electronic books, or e-books".

Let's explore five real-world issues.


The classroom of the future will be filled with devices that serve different purposes. There isn't one answer. Instead, there are many to fit different needs.

  • Kindles. A group of advanced readers are reading novels independently.
  • iPads. A reading group reads independently while the teacher works with another group.
  • iPod Touch. Students refer to a dictionary, vocabulary game, encyclopedia while working on a project.
  • Laptop. Students conducting research create a Glogster, interactive poster.
  • Desktop. A group sits together at one computer with a large monitor working on a video production.

MoneyThere are lots of ways to share Apps and e-books with the entire class.

You can hook up your device to the data projector. There are many foreign language books that are available as e-books. If you have the book on Kindle, use the Mac or Windows software to display on the big screen.

Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters is available in the Kindle book format. For more examples, go to Amazon's Children's eBooks section. This book can be read on a Kindle, however it can also be read on an iPad or computer desktop. If you connect your computer or iPad to your data projector you can see the book in color.

If you have a book like Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed on your iPad, simply point your document camera at the screen of an iPhone or iPad.

Portability. I take my ibird books with when I go bird watching. With my tracks app, I can easily identify animals. Larson (2010) noted that in early studies of e-books read on larger computers, participants often complained of discomfort. However no complains were logged with the new, smaller e-book readers.

Goldsborough (2010 , p.11) pointed out the new digital readers combine the portability of books with the "search and storage capabilities" of computers.


You're probably aware of Barnes and Noble for Nook books and Amazon for Kindle books, but there are other locations to access books for these and other devices.

green eggs

How many times have you read the story Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss? President Obama has even read this book. Check out the YouTube clip. Explore Dr. Seuss apps at Oceanhouse Media. Go to Green Eggs and Ham Video Clips and explore the many ways to enjoy these books. Then explore other examples at the Dr. Seuss Lensography.

Free Book Providers

Ebook Providers

For more e-reading environments, go to Electronic Books from Teacher Tap.

Why are apps so cool?

  • Small chunks
  • You don't get lost
  • No heavy advertising
  • Focused presentation
  • Multimedia
  • Connects to Social Technology

3 - The Knowledge and Skills

Technology is changing the way we read and learn. Even the definition of what we mean by the word "text" is changing. (Kress, 2003). Young people need to be aware of these changes and how they impact information organization, selection, evaluation, and creation.

Age Appropriateness. Many interactive stories are based on well-known print materials are designed with specific developmental levels in mind. Shamir and Korat (2006) stress the importance of evaluating the story's structure, lexicon, syntax, and grammatical complexity based on the age of the child.

The ability to read linear texts will continue to be the foundation for reading instruction. However new media requires students also begin to develop new skills.

Reading Comprehension. Reading comprehension is a process where readers construct meaning from text. Prior knowledge and experiences are activated as the words and visuals are read and new information is assimilated. Researchers have been exploring the impact of interactive reading experiences for decades. Much of these research has been conducted with elementary aged children. When comparing conventional books with interactive books, Medwell (1998) found children reading interactive storybooks were better able to retell the story and did better on comprehension questions. Lewin (2000) found that interactive storybooks improved sight recognition of words in beginning readers. In studying electronic texts, Larson (2008) found that e-texts foster reading comprehension.

Matthew (1996) found that students who read interactive storybooks rather than print books scored significantly higher on reading comprehension questions. Sounds effects, interactive features, and animation may contribute to comprehension.

Doty, Popplewell, and Byers (2001) found no significant difference on oral retellings associated with interactive storybooks versus traditional printed books. However when comprehension was measured through questions, students reading the interactive storybook scored higher. The interactive books provided students with the ability to obtain pronunciation and definitions. Student could also click on illustrations for labels and pronunciation of words. However the audio narration feature was turned off.

While some interactive stories are organized in a linear many, others provide an initial choice of non-linear access. As such, some children don't experience the main storyline. This could explain why a number of studies have found that students have difficulty recalling the storyline however they are able to answer questions about the story.

According to Maya Eagleton (2002), "hypermedia literacy requires the ability to orchestrate and transmediate among traditional literacies and “new” literacies of visual representation, computers, and hypertext."

Increasingly, interactive book publishers are conducting their own research to support e-book use. For instance, Interactive Educational Systems Design, Inc. (2010) reported that presentation of text visually and auditorily contributes to reading comprehension particularly among struggling readers. Bi-modal presentation of text was found to support age-appropriate content knowledge. In addition, narration matched to listener's reading rate also contributed to learning.

Greenlee-Moore and Smith (1996) found significantly higher comprehension scores when students read longer and more difficult narratives on using interactive software versus paper. The interactive software provided support such as definitions.

Integral and Incidental Elements. Students must learn to identify integral and incidental elements of an interactive story. Just as they learn what are the most important components in the narrative, they also need to be able focus on the key audio, visual, animation, and other elements that are connected to the text. This begins with interactive storybooks, but continues with complex transmedia adventures.

Use Scholastics's Apps to help students make these distinctions.

Information Evaluation. Students must be able to identify the most important information and collect evidence to support their learning need. Go to Teacher Tap to find fake website that can be used to serve as discussion. Talk about fact, fiction, and fake.

4 - the attitude

Young people enjoy electronic reading. Watch iPad Guided Tour: Marvel Comics from YouTube. Consider ways to motivate readers through electronic materials focused on the interests of young people.

Motivation. Glasgow (1996) noted that reading motivation increases as a result of using interactive texts. Most students enjoy the e-Book experience. Larson (2009) found that all the students in her e-book study preferred reading e-books over traditional books. They particularly liked the tools for highlighting and note taking.

Focus. It's important to help young people stay focused in nonlinear environments. Dobon and Miall (1998) found that hypertexts can slow reading speed and cause readers to fear they've lost track of information. Readers need a framework for dealing with nonlinear and fragmented information sources. Schneider (2005) argues that today's readers are already exposed to fragmented presentations through story-bits in the form of commercials and music videos. Readers simply need to learn how to recognize the structures that exist in the particular type of text. In other words, a short story has a particular structure that readers can distinguish from an expository text. The ability to identify different types of texts and how to deal with them will be increasingly important. The same is true of helping readers identify fact and opinion.


Rather than abandoning best practices, look for ways to transform traditional approaches. Larson (2010, p.16) stresses that teachers must "address the discrepancy between the types of literacy experiences students encounter at school and those they practice in their daily lives outside the school environment". For instance, Larson (2008, p.122) suggests transforming the traditional reading workshop approach into an electronic reading workshops. Larson used Hancock's (2007) four categories to illustrate this shift:

  • Literature section would involve e-books and online materials rather than print texts.
  • Literature response journals would involve electronic journals and blogs rather than spiral notebooks.
  • Literature conversations could be held in threaded discussions online rather than face-to-face groups.
  • Project response options could incorporate technology tools for publishing and multimedia products.

It's not time to get rid of the teacher. Not all children have the metacognitive skills needed to work independently. McKenna (1998) noted that students can easily miss key story elements or misunderstand words when working independently. Medwell (1996) found that interaction with a teacher along with an interactive book had positive effect on pupils' word recognition. Trushell, Burrell, and Maitland (2001, p. 400) concluded that minimal teacher intervention is important to "ensure moderation in choice of "eye-candy" and linear progression."

Super Why is only one of many PBS Kids learning apps available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Many learning opportunities are available on mobile devices such as iPhone, iTouch, and iPad. A growing number of educational producers are developing applications across the curriculum. These are particularly popular with home-school parents. For instance, iHomeEducator is a company that specializes in educational applications for the iPad. They produce a series of apps called iLive focusing on topics such as science, math, and language arts. The website contains lots of demonstration videos to give you a feel for the apps. Be sure to check out iLiveGrammar.


webmdPearman and Chang (2010) note that for beginning readers supervision is needed help children ensure attainment of specific skills. They found that "the features provided by CD-ROM storybooks offer valuable support for the acquisition of reading skills when coupled with supervision to monitor overuse and direct instruction in comprehension strategies."

In addition to the traditional role of the teacher as facilitator, instructor, model and more, Larson and Marsh (2005, p 73) notes that in the "complex, multimodal, electronic worlds" teachers must also be resource manager, co-constructor of knowledge, and design consultant providing advice on texts that meet learning needs. Lucianne Brown (2009) found that using mobile phones for vocabulary activities improved comprehension and increased motivation to learn over traditional non-digitized delivery.

Apps are becoming a part of everyday life. If you need immediate medical information, try WebMD Mobile.

Is this new world of reading really going to impact teaching and learning? Yes! It already has. Read the 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report from Scholastic to explore the changes that are already happening.

According to 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report by Scholastic (PDF) the children enjoy digital reading.

  • One in four children have read an eBook.
  • Over half of children ages 9-17 say they are interested in reading eBooks.
  • One third of children say they would read more books for fun if they had access to eBooks on an electronic device.
  • Nearly eight in ten children read for fun at least weekly, but one in five reads for fun less than once per week.

If you give a child an iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android... you may never see it again. These tools are already part of the lives of many young people.

Traditional books won't go away, they'll just become part of a new mix of reading resources.


Bearne, E. (2005). Multimodal texts: What they are and how children use them. In J. Evans (Ed.), Literacy moves on: Popular culture, new technologies, and critical literacy in the elemen tary classroom (pp. 13-29). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Bergman, O. (1999, October). Wait for me! Reader control of narration rate in talking books. Reading Online. Available:

Brown, Lucianne (Fall 2009). Using mobile learning to teacher reading to ninth-grade students. Journal of Computing Teachers, 1-16.

Dobson, Teresa M. and Miall, David S. (1998). Orienting the Reader? A Study of Literary Hypertexts. SPIEL, 17, 249-262.

Doty, Deborah E., Popplewell, Scott R. & Byers, Gregg O. (Summer 2001). Interactive CD-ROM Storybooks and Young Readers' Reading Comprehension. Journal of Research on Computing in Education. Volume 33(4), 374-384.

Eagleton, M.B., & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the web: Strategies for Internet inquiry. New York: Guilford.

Eagleton, M.B. (2002, July/August). Making text come to life on the computer: Toward an understanding of hypermedia literacy. Reading Online, 6(1). Available:

Glasgow, J.N. (1996). It's my turn! Part II: Motivating young read ers using CD-ROM storybooks. Learning and Leading with Technology, 24(4), 18-22.

Goldsborough, R. (2009). The latest in books and the Internet. Tech Directions, 65(10), 11.

Greenlee-Moore, M. E., & Smith, L. L. (1996). Interactive computer software: The effects on young children's reading achievement. Reading Psychology: An International Quarterly, 17(1), 43–64.

Hancock, M.R. (2007). Language arts: Extending the possibilities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Hassett, Dawnene & Curwood, Jen Scott (2009). Theories and Practices of Multimodal Education: The Instructional Dynamics of Picture Books and Primary Classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 63(4), 270-282.

Higgins, N., & Hess, L. (1998). Using electronic books to promote vocabulary development. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED418687.

Interactive Educational Systems Design, Inc. (April 2010). What the Research Says: How Learner Interactive Books Support Reading Comprehension and Content Knowledge Acquisition. Lerner Publishing Group.

Kress, G.R. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. London, UK:Routledge.

Labbo, L. & Kuhn, M. (2000). Weaving chains of affect and cognition: a young child's understanding of CD-ROM talking books. Journal of Literacy Research, 32(2), 187–210.

Lamont C. (1997). Annotating a text: literary theory and electronic hypertext. In Sutherland K (ed)
Electronic Text Clarendon Press, Oxford, 47–66.

Larson, J., & Marsh, J. (2005). Making literacy real: Theories and practices for learning and teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Larson, L otta C. (October 2008). Electronic reading workshop: Beyond books with new literacies and instructional technologies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(2), 121–131.

Larson, Lotta C. (November 2009). Digital literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(3), 255-258.

Larson, Lotta C. (September 2010). Digital readers: The next chapter in e-book reading and response. Reading Teacher, 64(1), 15-22.

Lefever-Davis, S., & Pearman, C. (2005). Early readers and electronic texts: Factors that influence reading behaviors. The Reading Teacher, 58(5), 446-454.

Lewin, C. (2000). Exploring the effects of talking book software in UK primary classrooms. Journal of Research in Reading, 23(2), 149–157.

Lewis, Rena B. & Ashton, Tamarah M. (1999). Interactive books on CD-ROM and reading instruction for students with learning disabilities: what are your views? 1999 Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference Proceedings, California State University Northridge.

Matthew, K. I. (1996). The impact of CD-ROM storybooks on children's reading comprehension and reading attitude. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 5(3/4), 379–394.

Matthew, K. I. (1997). A comparison of the influence of interactive CDROM storybooks and traditional print storybooks on reading comprehension. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 29(3), 263–275.

McKenna, M. C., Cowart, E., & Watkins, J. (1997, December). Effects of talking books on the growth of struggling readers in second grade. Paper presented at the meeting of the National Reading Conference, Scottsdale, AZ.

McKenna, M. C. (1998). Electronic texts and the transformation of beginning reading. In D. Reinking, M. C. McKenna, L. D. Labbo, & R. D. Kieffer (Eds.) Handbook of literacy and technology: Transformations in a posttypographic world. (pp. 45-59). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

McNabb, M. L. (1997, December). Using electronic books to enhance reading comprehension of struggling readers. Paper presented at the meeting of the National Reading Conference, Scottsdale, AZ.

Medwell J. (1996). Talking books and reading. Reading 30(1,) 41–6.

Medwell J. (1998). The Talking Books Project: some further insights into the use of talking books
to develop reading. Reading 32(1), 3–8.

Pearman, C. (2008). Independent reading of CD-ROM storybooks: Measuring comprehension with oral retellings. The Reading Teacher, 61(8), 594-602.

Pearman, Cathy J. and Chang, Ching-Wen (July/August 2010). Scaffolding or Distracting: CD-ROM Storybooks and Young Readers. Tech Trends, 54(4), 52-57.

Reinking, D. (1997). Me and my hypertext: A multiple digression analysis of technology and literacy. The Reading Teacher, 50(8), 626-637.

Reinking, D., & Schreiner, R. (1985). The effects of computer-mediated text on measures of reading comprehension and reading behavior. Reading Research Quarterly, 20(5), 536-552.

Schneider, Ralf (August 2005). Hypertext narrative and the reader: a view from cognitive theory. European Journal of English Studies, 9(2), 197-208.

Shamir, Adina., & Korat, Ofra (2006). How to select CD-ROM storybooks for young children: The teacher's role. The Reading Teacher, 59(6), 532-543.

Trushell, John, Burrell, Clare, & Maitland, Amanda (Septemer 1, 2001). Year 5 pupils reading an "Interactive Storybook" on CD-ROM. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(4), 389-401.

Trushell, John & Maitland, Amanda (December 2, 2004). Primary pupils' recall of interactive storybooks on CD-ROM: inconsiderate interactive features and forgetting. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(1), 57-66.

Underwood, J. D. M. (2000). A comparison of two types of computer support for reading development.
Journal of Research in Reading, 23(2), 136–148.


End of Article. Go to Transmedia Flood.

Fluid | Reading Overview | History | Redefining | Environments | Fiction vs Nonfiction | Features| Issues