Realizing the Potential of e-Books in Early Education

Realizing the Potential of e-Books in Early Education

Kathleen A. Paciga (Columbia College Chicago, USA) and Jessica L. Hoffman (Miami University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch470
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Background

Defining the E-Book

In many ways, what “counts” as an e-book is ill-defined. Buckleitner (2011) argues that e-books are different from printed books and that an e-book’s interactivity ranges from essentially non-interactive (e.g., the basic PDF document) to highly-interactive with an array of cutting-edge hypermedia embedded into the electronic “pages” (see the keyword section of this article for some additional terms and definitions that we will use to describe e-books).

The e-book is both an object—a piece of software formatted to play on a particular device—and content (e.g., story, poem, informational text). The first e-books were released in the early 1990s and were largely printed stories transformed into CD-ROM format. These discs were to be inserted into a PC to make stories come alive for young children; the music, animation, clickable text, and interactivity were included to engage young children in reading books on a computer. The first research on e-books began to emerge in the late 1990s, but is still in its infancy; much of what has been done to study the efficacy of learning from, and use of e-books has been carried out in lab-like contexts, rather than in authentic reading environments like the home or school.

E-Books are Engaging

There are several reasons why e-books are so appealing. First, they are presented on mobile devices and computer screens. A long line of research has documented the general appeal of technology to children (Common Sense Media, 2011; Vandewater, et. al, 2007). In addition, e-books seem magical. With one touch of a child’s finger, something happens—sound effects, background accompaniment music, animation, words popping up or illuminating, recording buttons, houses being built, videos that show underwater animals—that was not present at first glance on the screen. Buckleitner (2013) argues that these seemingly magic features have the potential to engage children faster in the e-book experience and keep them engaged longer than they would with printed books.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hot Spots: Hidden animations or sounds in a page that are activated with a touch. Hot spots can be c onsiderate to the story or inconsiderate (see Labbo & Kuhn, 2000 ).

Phonetic Pronunciation: Touch a word to hear it sounded out..

Page Turn: An arrow at the bottom corners of the screen, a finger swipe, or a tap on the corner of the screen will turn the page of the e-book.

Read-To-Me: The autopilot mode on an e-book. Also called autoplay.

Explore (Mode): Sometimes called “Read myself” or “Let me read.” Children can freely move throughout the e-book.

Narration: Voice of someone reading the printed text aloud. Often pre-recorded on software, but some e-books offer options to record your own voice as the narrator.

Word Highlighting: As each word is read aloud it is highlighted, helping children make visual association with the sound of each word.

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