Telling tales: Responding to challenges in literacy competencies using e-reader-based programs

Paula Charbonneau-Gowdy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Current worldwide debates on quality standards in education are interwoven with debates on the use of technology. While technology is profoundly changing the way we live, communicate and learn, relatively little seems to be known about its potential to influence literacies. The limited research that exists in this area, although sometimes encouraging, seems to focus on large-scale investment in laptop programs that have little relevance or hope in being tried or tested in evolving countries where literacy rates are most indicative of the urgent need for practical and affordable solutions. This paper reports on a 4-month study, part of a longitudinal study that looks at the power of e-readers to support change in the literacy habits and ultimately the learning cultures of a group of English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers-in-training in Chile. Literacy and how to develop it, is a prime concern in Chile. With the need for worldwide citizens to have increased and diverse competencies in meaning making and in negotiating complex information, many Chileans still lack basic reading skills. The future looks even bleaker as successive groups of teachers, who themselves have serious literacy challenges, are entering the system with little hope of affecting change. The aim of the study was to determine if access to low-cost mobile readers and a social-learning based, technology-supported, guided reading program, could reverse this picture for the participants. The study is based on social-cultural theory in which learner agency, access to funds of knowledge and social interaction are imperative ingredients for developing engaged, life-long readers. Participatory Action Research (PAR) is used to conduct the inquiry. Working within a qualitative research paradigm, ethnographic tools are employed to uncover how the use of technology influences both the literacy practices and identities of the teachers-in-training, from their perspectives. Numerical data from pre-and post-test results are also analyzed and used to support the findings that patterns of literacy development changed. The evolving changes in the way many of these learners come to view their literacy practices supported by technology, combined with their identity construction over the period of the guided program online, have important implications for other learners, educators and policy makers. The findings suggest a new model of literacy education is needed in such challenging contexts, and particularly here in Chile, that involves accessible technology as an important part of the solution to providing democratic possibilities for all learners to develop the reading habits and competencies they require to be active 21st century global citizens.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL
PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781632668301
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event9th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2014 - Valparaiso, Chile
Duration: 26 Jun 201427 Jun 2014


Other9th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2014


  • 21st century skills
  • E-reader technology
  • Literacy
  • Multi-literacies
  • Teacher-training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems
  • Education


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