Tracking Children's Interactions with Traditional Text and Computer-Based Early Literacy Media

Tracking Children's Interactions with Traditional Text and Computer-Based Early Literacy Media

Domenica De Pasquale (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), Eileen Wood (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), Alexandra Gottardo (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), Jeffery A. Jones (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), Rachel Kaplan (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) and Arden DeMarco (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1005-5.ch006
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Abstract

Early literacy skills have been the focus of considerable research for the past two decades. Many instructional interventions have been developed to help improve children's acquisition of key skills – among the most recent is an array of software programs. In this chapter we review the foundations for software design, instructional theories related to computer media-based instruction and an assessment of how children interact with the visual information provided in children's software. In particular, the chapter will highlight current research examining what features of software design impact children's ability to attend and learn from this media. Eye tracking technology has been used in research on early literary to better understand how learning occurs. This chapter identifies how eye-tracking technology can facilitate understanding of how young children interact with literacy tools in computer-mediated contexts.
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Introduction

Computer technologies are a ubiquitous part of everyday life for most children today. The introduction of smaller, less-expensive and yet more powerful portable digital devices has seen the expansion of technology into more contexts than ever, including traditional contexts such as early childhood care environments, elementary/primary schools, homes, and newer venues such as restaurants, malls, and automobiles. The prevalence of technologies, combined with children’s attraction to computers and persistence while engaged with computers has encouraged many educators and parents to consider computer-mediated instruction as a potential means to facilitate learning (Blackwell, Lauricella, Wartella, Robb, & Schomburg, 2013; Lysenko, & Abrami, 2014; Pynoo, Devolder, Tondeur, van Braak, Duyck, & Duyck, 2011; Willoughby & Wood, 2008). Evidence of learning gains has been demonstrated across the range of educational contexts from higher education to early childhood (e.g., Tamim, Bernard, Borokhovski, Abrami & Schmid, 2011), across many domains including science, math and reading (e.g., Kafai, 2010; Tamin et al., 2011) and across a diverse array of activities (e.g., creating presentations, gathering information, gaming, using digital cameras, listening to music and watching television: Burnett, 2013; Gronn, Scott, Edwards, & Henderson, 2014). However, the mechanisms that explain how computer-based learning motivates children and how they facilitate learning continue to be examined. Eye tracker technology is one tool that has recently been employed in early literacy contexts, especially computer-mediated learning contexts, to better understand how learning occurs. The following chapter identifies how eye tracker technology is beginning to help us understand how young children interact with literacy tools in traditional and computer-mediated contexts.

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