e-Books will likely be a part of future early childhood classrooms, and in light of the thin evidence base on their role in curriculum and instruction, we undertook a formative study to investigate what e-book pedagogy for early literacy might look like in the early childhood classroom [1]. We approached our research from a design perspective—much like an engineer—creating a prototype model for implementation in the classroom and testing it to begin a winnowing process that informs the educational design (e-books in preschool for purposes of early literacy instruction) and identifies design features that are feasible and preferable in an instructional model [2, 3].

At this early stage of prototype creation, we conceptualized an e-book instructional model that was purposefully under-specified to allow a wide-angle view of what it takes and what happens when e-book technology is inserted into the preschool classroom. The model consists of four components grounded in e-book studies [4] and the knowledge base on early literacy instruction for young children [5]:

  • The e-book as a technology-mediated environment
  • The physical place of e-book reading in the classroom
  • Engagement in e-book reading for small groups and individuals
  • Explicit instruction using e-books

Our research objectives were to observe, define the salient attributes and rate the functioning of each component in situ toward the goal of framing a model for replication and further testing. To this purpose we employed a qualitative approach that focused on sorting, clustering and aggregating observational data to derive quality indicators and design features.

The following is a brief overview of some of the data collected during Phase 2 of our 2010-2011 study.

e-Book Nook Overview 2011  

[1] C. M. Reigeluth, and T. W. Frick, T. W. (1999). “Formative research: A methodology for creating and improving design theories” In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-Design theories and models – A new paradigm of instructional theory, Lawrence Erlbaum, New Jersey, 1999 pp. 633-652.
[2] A. Collins, D. Joseph, and K. Bielaczyc, “Design research: Theoretical and methodological issues,” The Journal of the Learning Sciences, vol.13, no. 1, January 2004, pp 15-42.
[3] R. Zaritsky, A. Kelly, W. Flowers, E. Rogers, and P. O’Neill, (2003). “Clinical design sciences: a view from sister design efforts” Educational Researcher, vol. 32 no.1, Jan. – Feb. 2003, pp 32-34.
[4] M. McKenna, and T. Zucker, (2009). “Use of electronic storybooks in reading  instruction,” In A. Bus and S. B. Neuman, Eds., Multimedia and Literacy Development, Routledge. New York, 2009, pp. pp. 254-272.
[5] National Early Literacy Panel , “A scientific synthesis of early literacy development and implications for intervention,” National Institute for Literacy.Washington, DC, 2008.