Technology versus teachers in the early literacy classroom: an investigation of the effectiveness of the Istation integrated learning system

Abstract

Guided by Vygotsky’s social learning theory, this study reports a 24-week investigation on whether regular use of Istation®, an integrated learning system used by approximately 4 million students in the United States, had an effect on the early literacy achievement of children in twelve kindergarten classrooms. A mixed-method, quasi-experimental design was constructed using propensity scores. Also investigated were the effects of the level of teacher literacy support on early literacy achievement and the interaction between Istation® use and the level of teacher literacy support. A descriptive discriminant analysis was performed to determine the main effect of Istation®. The level of teacher support and the interaction effect was then tested using a multivariate between-subject analysis. Results indicated that Istation® did have a statistically significant effect on the early literacy skills of the kindergarten students studied and could explain 17.7% of the variance in group differences. Teacher literacy support and the interaction between teacher support and Istation® were not significant. This study considers the relationship between technology and early literacy and concludes that Istation® can serve as a more knowledgeable other as students develop some early literacy skills; however, teachers are still needed to provide complete literacy instruction for young students.

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Correspondence to Rebecca S. Putman.

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Putman, R.S. Technology versus teachers in the early literacy classroom: an investigation of the effectiveness of the Istation integrated learning system. Education Tech Research Dev 65, 1153–1174 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-016-9499-5

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Keywords

  • Early literacy
  • Integrated learning systems
  • Educational technology
  • Propensity scores
  • Istation