How Tablets Affect Contemporary Literacy
The use of technology has continued to change and shape the way literacy instructions are delivered. The use of tablet technology has been increasingly finding value in the contemporary society. Young people at home, before preschool, as well as the early childhood, teenage, and adulthood have all embraced in one way or another the technological advancement brought about by the tablet technology including iPad. The tablet technology uses the tactile interface as well as the finger-based operating systems/features that may be used to support the early learners in their educational development especially in literacy improvement. The use of tablets can improve a child’s emergent literacy skills. This fact does not imply the non-use of the traditional print methods that includes books, but emphasizes the importance of embracing technology in the advancement of literacy level of the population. Despite the fact that the digital technology has its disadvantages, its effective use can be of much benefit in literacy empowerment to all people since it is easier to find the necessary materials need, do quicker research, as well as source for additional and relevant research materials cheaper and convenient. The tablet technology is flexible/mobile and can be accessed from any location, at any time and when connected to the internet helps one to explore new knowledge better and faster. In the early childhood development, the use of tablet technology in literacy learning is dependent on the learning avenue/platform used by the teacher or a child caretaker as well as the availability and quality of the tablet applications available. With the above introduction in place, this paper aims at highlighting the effect of the tablet technology on the contemporary literacy and learning.
The increasing use of the digital technology and the internet on literacy influence the type of literacy that young people communicate, write, observe, or use to read with (Beschorner & Hutchison, 2013). The use of technology, and in this case, tablet technology influence the nature of literacy to be achieved by the user. The new digital age requires its habitants to be aware of the application of the technology and this being the case, to be fully literacy, one must be aware of the new literacies.
The use of touchscreen technology has enabled the young kids and other people to be able to learn ways of interfacing with computers and other digital resources in ways that were not traditionally possible (O’Malley & Fraser, 2004). This being the case, the young people are able to start practicing the basics of elementary using easy to follow procedures on the screen of the tablets, thus making it easier to understand, as compared to following instructions from the blackboard. This, therefore, follows that, when tablets and other computer technology are well integrated and with the correct person instructing them, they may be able to understand reading and writing concepts better, improving their literacy faster compared to blackboard instructions. It should be noted that tablet instruction may be animated to make it more interesting for the pupil. This may lead to the young children/student memorizing faster and being able to recall a given pattern based on the animated shape or drawing. Tablets can be fitted with kid’s software that can help them learn the basics of the elementary learning, improving their literacy level. At the same time, to the teenage and adult, the tablet technology can be employed such that assignments can be given through the tablets, research can also be done through the same platform increasing and improving a person’s literacy level and knowhow.
The use of tablet for educational purposes does not only make the technology to be accessible, but the application can improve learning (Simpson, Walsh & Rowsell, 2013). Research done in the past indicates that the technology leads to a situation of improved test scores and attendance. This follows that upon the use of technology, which has the capability of giving sound assistance, a child is able to recognize and represent the sound as letters. With the correct application in place, the teacher is at the same time,able to manage various applications over the tablets and therefore have control over the studentperformance.
The mobile technology is a cheap option compared to many other school technologies like the computer networking and projectors. This being the case, many people can afford it, providing instructions to a growing kid better, enabling their literacy level to increase.
According to Felvégi & Matthew (2012), tablets, dedicated eBooks as well as other digital devices, including smartphones and computers can store thousands of e-materials, which make it easier for the students to have a hold of an extensive library within their reach (40). The tablet library is not limited to a bookshelf or a building, but is portable and can be carried in backpacks and pockets. This makes it possible for one to relook at the notes and other information in such databases, enabling an individual to increase knowledge on a given topic increasing the literacy level. It should be noted that the wide coverage of books may provide numerous that enables a student to gain more understanding and insight on a given topic. The electronic texts enhance reading and learning and improves the literacy instructions.
Tablets and other digital technologies have no standard formats as in the traditional books, creating a user-friendly platform. In the traditional setting, the varying sizes of books and designs, may lead to the student or leader omitting some pages, or the lack of graphics to explain concepts may lead to a student having difficulties when trying to understand a given concept. This being the case, it reduces the knowhow capabilities of an individual, unlike the tablets which provide specific instructions or additions to help a student understand better the various concepts being studied. This, therefore, explains why tablets increases the literacy of the contemporary person/student. The literacy instructions can also be read aloud from an audio narration. This is important as it accommodates the visually impaired, the second language learners as well as other disadvantaged groups thereby enhancing motivation. Text to speech capabilities, search functions at the same time, and word definition helps a reader to be betterknowledge in terms of pronunciation, meaning, and comprehension. The highlighted text, adjustable texts at the same time helps young learners be able to read and reread a book with minimal adult supervision. This interactivity increases literacy in learning (Felvégi& Matthew, 2012).
It is imperative to understand that using the digital technologies, can be beneficial in skill development. Some software’s can be used to help children read and develop letters and recognition skills. A program like the LetterSchool which makes a game out of drawing, letter can be used to improve the kid’s skills through the interactive platform (Neumann & Neumann, 2014). The touch screen tablets have the physic appearance of a book and can therefore be useful in facilitating earlyliteracy in the form of writing notes, or text using single or multiple touch gestures. Literacy application on tablets have a positive effect on the children’s capability to learn letters, sounds, rhythms, or vocabularies. It is well versed that eBooksresembles the traditional books and this makes it possible for the person using the tablet technology to have the option of reading or listen to readings independently, or be assisted by an adult thus enhancing experiences and emergent literacy. To a child, it may help improve the vocabulary, phonological awareness and the drive to continue reading.
Limitations of Digital Technology (Tablet)
As much as it can be argued that the digital technology (tablet) helps to improve the literacy level of the readers, it can sometimes distract the reader from achieving the set objective while reading a book or when looking for certain information from the tablets. As Smith and Schugar (2013) indicated, eBooks have the potential of changing the way students read and consume texts because of their interactivity and convenience (616). The interactivity of the technology, the animations and the lack of a standard formatting may lead to the students playing with the tablet instead of reading the text. At the same time, the attention of the reader may be distracted, leading to a less meaningful interactions which in turn may lead to low reader comprehension. This means that the distractions may divert the reader’s attention on the texts, or from the main idea, causing the students to construct meaning that are not proactive or beneficial, commonly referred to as the seductive meaning. To the users of the tablet technology, they may shift focus and start concentrating on the usability of the device instead of the content. This may affect literacy as much of the time may not be devoted to the readings, but on how the device ought to perform.
Conclusion and Future Research
The increased use of the digital technology and especially the tablets, have an impact on the emergent literacy. Young people become competent users upon being able to navigate through the tablet platform by touching and interpreting the printed as well as the letters and icons displayed on the tablet. These early experiences are likely to increase a child’s emergent literacy like the knowledge of letters, the print concepts, and emergent writing among other skills. Despite this fact, the comprehensibility, adaptability, and optimal use of the tablet is dependent on the availability of viable application to run the tablets as well as the setting that teachers and parents give to the children. The contemporary advances in the tablet technologies have been underused and not aligned to be used by educators in teaching, and therefore not appropriate to teach young children. This is basically because they do not promote problem solving skills. There is a need, therefore, for the young people to develop emergent literacy by complementing the traditional approaches as well as the digital technology. By so doing, the use of the tablet technology and the non-digital literacy enables them to grow into effective persons allowing them, to participate in the technologically advancing technology.
Beschorner, B., & Hutchison, A. (2013). iPads as a Literacy Teaching Tool in Early Childhood. Online Submission, 1(1), 16-24.
Felvégi, E., & Matthew, K. I. (2012). eBooks and Literacy in K–12 Schools. Computers in the Schools, 29(1-2), 40-52.
Neumann, M. M., & Neumann, D. L. (2014). Touch Screen Tablets and Emergent Literacy. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(4), 231-239.
O’Malley, C., & Fraser, D. S. (2004). Literature review in learning with tangible technologies.
Schugar, H. R., Smith, C. A., & Schugar, J. T. (2013). Teaching With Interactive Picture E‐Books in Grades K–6. The Reading Teacher, 66(8), 615-624.
Simpson, A., Walsh, M., &Rowsell, J. (2013). The digital reading path: researching modes and multidirectionality with iPads. Literacy, 47(3), 123-130.