Monday, September 09, 2013

What's on it?

It's getting quite common to hear about how technology can solve all our literacy issues in one fell swoop. But this story about using e-readers in Ghana as a way of raising literacy levels was inspiring, and an outcome of the work done by the Worldreader charity. So it begins to look like e-readers can be a relatively simple way of enhancing the reading experience of students of all ages. But yet it seems to me that there's two crucial things that are missing in this largely technocentric debate, and they are - perhaps inevitably - to do with the social dimension. Firstly, we know that something like a Kindle or an iPad is simply a platform for digital content. What counts then, once you've got over the love of technology, is the quality and values of that content. Is it a commercially-bundled curriculum? Is it worthwhile reading material, and does it really explore the multimodal (and other) affordances of digital content? Secondly, what happens when you insert this kind of device into everyday pedagogical situations? What sorts of new roles and routines develop (or could develop) for teachers and learners? There's a significant research agenda here, and we need some answers to avoid being blown away by technologists, or bundled into oblivion by commercial publishers.

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