Science Daily has information about a study of the impact of tablets loaded with literacy apps on children. For the last four years, MIT, Tufts University and Georgia State University have been studying whether tablet computers with literacy apps could improve reading preparedness of young children living in economically disadvantaged communities.
They did three trials of the tablets: one in two rural Ethiopian villages with no schools and no written culture, one in a suburban South African school with a student-teacher ratio of 60 to 1, and one in a rural school in the United States.Students are given the tablets with no coaching from adults, because the plan is to scale this up to a larger level. There was no issue with children using the tablets and most had explored all of the apps by the end of the first day.
In the South African trial, rising second graders who had been issued tablets the year before were able to sound out four times as many words as those who hadn’t, and in the U.S. trial, which involved only 4-year-olds and lasted only four months, half-day preschool students were able to supply the sounds corresponding to nearly six times as many letters as they had been before the trial.
New trials are being run now in Uganda, Bangladesh, India and the US. A total of 2000 children have been part of the study so far.
This is certainly something for libraries and teachers to keep an eye on!