Digital Texts, iPads, and Families

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Research into new ways of reading that employs digital tablet devices is scarce, particularly with regard to one-to-one implementation in schools in low socio-economic populations. This descriptive mixed methods study investigates the digital reading practices of families and their 4-7 year old children located in a socio-economically disadvantaged community in Tasmania, Australia. Families read digital texts (ebooks and iBooks) on school provided iPads and participated in a six-week shared reading initiative. As the project required an in-depth understanding of families’ experiences, a mixed methodology approach was adopted. Analysis indicates that families were not always exploiting the unique features of digital texts to support their children’s literacy development. Two-way knowledge exchange activities between the home and school may serve to mediate this phenomenon. Thus, the findings of the study suggest that the inclusion of parent training sessions should be an important consideration when implementing home-school digital shared reading initiatives. Leaders in schools and departments of education need data on programme effectiveness such as this and on issues faced by stakeholders when implementing these kinds of programmes to make good decisions about where to invest technology resources.