Do Mobile Devices Harm Toddlers’ Speech Development?


Tablets and smartphones damage toddlers’ speech development, by Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph, May 4, 2017

Knapton reports on a new study that makes a connection between the use of mobile devices and speech development in children under two years old.

Infographic: The ed-tech challenges faced by immigrant students by Laura A Scione, eSchool News, April 14, 2017

Scione reports on a study that shows that 43% of Hispanic immigrants who buy technology generally buy it to support their children’s education.

After Outage, Ed Department Unveils New IDEA Site by Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, June 1, 2017

Although this article is not directly about educational technology, it highlights the importance of technology for presenting and disseminating up-to-date, accurate and accessible information to the public.

New Directions for Technology Use in ELL Instruction by Scott Evans, Language Magazine, May 9, 2017

In this article, Evans describes various ways that teachers can use technology to enhance the learning of English Language Learners. These include uses in differentiation, autonomous and self-directed learning, access to diverse language content, mobility, and multimodal learning.

It Turns Out ‘Screen Time’ Isn’t That Bad for Kids, by Julia Layton, How Stuff Works, Culture, Jan. 14, 2016

This article from 2016 reports on a study that claims research on the bad effects of technology on children are outdated.


Poverty, Reading, and Technology

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

In his article “Technology Holds Promise for Students With Poor Vocabulary Skills” (Education Week, 23 July 2015), Steven L. Miller argues that technology offers one solution for creating individualized learning experiences for students to develop better literacy skills.

Miller’s premise is that children, especially from impoverished backgrounds, also come to school with impoverished language skills. He asserts that “children with lower vocabulary skills are often poor readers, so they continue to fall further and further behind in academic language and cognitive skills.”

While Miller’s article offers an effective solution to the problem of building vocabulary and consequently literacy skills, we have to be careful about generalizations regarding students from low-income or poverty situations. He bases his argument on research demonstrating that they hear more negative communication while students from professional families hear more positive and encouraging communications.

However, there is a broader range of research on the impact of poverty on learning, showing that while communication may be one aspect of literacy development, there are other factors such as poor nutrition and inadequate healthcare.

Regardless of the causes, education and educational technology can, as Miller states, help students with poor vocabulary skills. For example, he says:

Using speech-recognition software … students receive one-on-one guidance and real-time feedback from an unbiased listener as they read aloud. Using this approach, students can improve their reading grade level by up to 50 percent more than the students who only receive classroom instruction in the same time period.

Miller’s article is based on Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley’s 1995 study Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. For a summary, see Hart and Risley’s “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3”  (American Educator, spring 2003).

Technology in Early Education: An Interview with Katie Paciga

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Katie Paciga, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Education at Columbia College Chicago. She teaches courses in Language Development, Children’s Media and Technology, and Early Reading and Writing Methods. Her area of specialization is emergent/early digital literacy development. I interviewed Katie about her views on technology and literacy education for young learners.

LZ: What do you think is the most exciting connection between technology and literacy? Why?

KP: So, the way I see it, there is incredible cultural relevance to the whole connection between technology and literacy. That’s really the most important point. Scientists will continue to debate over the value-added (or not added) because we have evolved. While that debate happens, though, most people are using technology as a tool for communication — to consume information, to create new texts, and to communicate messages. The ways we carry out these actions have changed in the past decade in very significant ways. I suppose you could argue that technology has been impacting the ways we communicate from the time of the evolution of the first writing tool to the telephone, radio, printing press, television, and now the computer and Internet. Humans have always communicated, but today there are new vocabulary terms to describe how we communicate and the tools that we use to do so are different as well.

Dr. Katie Paciga

Dr. Katie Paciga

There are always new technological developments, so our strategies for consuming information, creating new messages, and connecting with other people to communicate our messages need to adapt and evolve fairly quickly. To be literate in a technologically advanced society we need to be able to ask good questions, execute searches, evaluate resources, comprehend material we choose to read, and then synthesize information across MANY resources. I guess, in some ways, we have always had to do this to advance knowledge, but the volume of resources and the reliability of the information children (and adults) encounter daily as they seek answers to their questions is much more diverse than it was just two or three decades ago.

Composition can often require a new language (i.e., computer code) if we are to contribute to creating new texts — contributing our own messages to the world. In addition, we need to be persuasive to get our messages heard in society where search engine optimized content gets communicated more readily than material that is not as clickable, shareable, etc. Visual content has become more prominent in texts, too.

The ways we connect to share our messages with one another have also changed with Facetime, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and the other forms of web-chat and social media. In this way our students’ messages (and sometimes images) are out there for a much wider audience than those in the immediate community.  Continue reading