Digital expressive media for supporting early literacy through child-driven, scaffolded play
Author(s)Sysoev, Ivan,(Ivan S.)
Program in Media Arts and Sciences (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
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Digital technology holds many promises for supporting early literacy development. To stimulate both l earning achievement and children's interest in literacy, i t i s beneficial f or a l earning activity to be playful, support children's agency and self-efficacy, and meaningfully connect to their life. However, nearly all current literacy technology, designed within the instructionist paradigm, lack these qualities. This work attempts to address this issue by exploring the design space of technology that is: ( 1) "child-driven" -- allowing initiative and ideas to come from the learner; ( 2) expressive -- fostering the creation of messages or artistic artifacts; and ( 3) scaffolded --assisting the child, in real time, in accomplishing his/her self-selected goals. Several forms of scaffolding were explored: ( 1) direct guidance routines with input from the child, ( 2) facilitating invented spelling, and ( 3) phoneme-based building blocks aimed at eschewing the orthographic complexities of English. The exploration was conducted through two apps, primarily aimed at phonological awareness development --minimalistic SpeechBlocks I and scaffolded SpeechBlocks II. They were evaluated in four exploratory studies, both in classrooms and homes. The following was l earned: ( 1) The media sparked intrinsic motivation, supported agency and self-efficacy, and allowed f or non-trivial expression; ( 2) They were used i n markedly different ways: from chaotic, impulsive exploration to sophisticated imaginative play; ( 3) The media encouraged literacy-oriented social play; ( 4) Real-time, built-in scaffolding was essential i n supporting the meaningful participation of early literacy learners. I t allowed children to engage i n high-level creativity, while simplifying the necessary l ow-level routine; ( 5) Different scaffolding types fulfilled different functions, such as responding to children's specific requests and facilitating the search f or ideas; ( 6) The distinction between letter and phoneme blocks was ultimately less important than originally thought.However, onomatopoeic mnemonics ( designed f or phoneme blocks) were helpful or a certain category of children; ( 7) Initial phonological awareness and executive function appear to be moderators in how productive children's engagement was with the media. This work can provide insights to researchers, educators, and designers on how to combine children's agency with supportive guidance.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, May, 2020Cataloged from the official PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 204-217).
DepartmentProgram in Media Arts and Sciences (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program in Media Arts and Sciences