Fun with Phonics
The aim of our project was to create an e-reading application aimed at all school children, preferably primary school students. Our research found that there is not yet a suitable e-reader aimed directly at primary school children. Although assistive reading aids are available, many seem to be aimed specifically towards children with learning difficulties, and given this we wanted to create an application that could be used by students of all abilities, while also teaching the phonic system.
Research in recent years highlights the importance of technology as a tool for teaching children how to read and improve literacy skills. Children today show a very positive attitude when it comes to using technology as a tool for learning. According to Picton (2014), children prefer to read on screen rather than on paper, with more than half of these children saying that they would rather read on an electronic device. Ebooks appear to have an advantage over print versions in the way that the child can gain an instant definition of a word, or have a word which they cannot pronounce sounded out for them. The alphabet is now taught in terms of phonetics in order to help children to understand how letters sound both alone and when combined with other letters to make sounds. We decided to use the Oxford Reading Tree books which are used in most primary schools to teach phonics. It would also offer recognisable themes with familiar characters for the child to better engage themselves. For this reason, we thought it would be a good idea to create a reading application for children to use on an electronic device that teaches phonics.
From the feedback we received from our user testing, most children who engaged with our ebook had similar opinions. They agreed that it was easy to navigate through the application and they enjoyed having a familiar book to read on screen, which one child described as being a novelty.The concept of being rewarded a sticker was well-received, and proved to be a motivating factor for the child.