The digital reading path: researching modes and multidirectionality with iPads

This paper reports a study that examines the integration of tablet technologies such as iPads into literacy lessons to investigate how reading and meaning-making occur within this digital medium. Specifically in this paper, we discuss the concept of reading paths as applied to physical and cognitive planes of meaning-making. The paper reports on data collected as part of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded project involving researchers from Canada, the United States and Australia. The study is currently under way in schools in the three different countries where the researchers are observing students in classrooms in primary and secondary schools. The research is designed with a mixed methods approach coding video footage of dyads to enable close study of their interaction during literacy tasks incorporating iPads. Our findings show that the affordances of touch technology allow for multimodal, multidirectional reading paths. By tracking students' interactions with the digital platform through touch, it is possible to see navigation as evidence of the relationship between material and cognitive processes, which fosters metatextual awareness. These aspects of modes and new literacies construct a dynamic materiality for students' reading and writing. As a result, we propose that current awareness of the mode of gesture needs to be expanded to take into account haptic ways of learning.

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