Digital Booktalk: Digital Media for Reluctant Readers

Mar. 15, 2008

SourceContemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2008

New learning and communications paradigms of today’s learners are extending the definition of literacy and directly affecting how reading and writing skills are acquired (Leu, 2000). Mirroring an ever-expanding definition of literacy, new college and K-12 curricular programs that redefine digital media are popping up all over the country. Story is at the core of both traditional literacy and these digital media courses and using it as a focus could be appealing to today’s media-centric students. Further, McLuhan’s (1965) and Ong’s (1984) ideas about media and the message can help to reformulate notions about why and how today’s students communicate and how using particular media affects how they learn things.

The intent of this article is to share information and provide guidance for preservice and in-service teachers about a mediated alternative instructional strategy that has the ability to reach reluctant and struggling readers. Findings are presented from a pilot study that evaluated a new Web-based tool that links the interests of media-centric students with their natural fondness for story. Digital Booktalk is a Web portal that uses video trailers and associated activities in an attempt to effectively match potential readers. Initial pilot studies tested out these assumptions and determined that these types of mediated interventions can be successful in motivating students to read and complete books and increase personal understanding of the relevance of reading and writing in the lives of those who otherwise demonstrate an aversion to text-based media. Results of the study and implications for in-service and preservice teachers are discussed.

Updated: Nov. 27, 2008