Touching Nametags with NFC Phones: A Playful Approach to Learning to Read

  • Jukka Riekki
  • Marta Cortés
  • Marja Hytönen
  • Iván Sánchez
  • Riitta-Liisa Korkeamäki
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7775)


Near Field Communication (NFC) technology was developed for mobile devices from RFID technology. It enables new kinds of learning applications that are based on touching objects with phones. When an object is touched, a phone reads data from the object’s NFC tag. An application interprets the data and acts consequently. We report our first pilot study of an NFC-based learning application that supports children in their efforts in learning to read. We tested the application in one kindergarten with 23 three-to-five-year-old children with their two teachers. The results suggest that NFC is a suitable technology for learning applications and that the tested application had an effect on the children’s emergent letter knowledge although the activity period lasted only for two weeks.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    NFC Forum. NFC Forum Specifications (January 4, 2011),
  2. 2.
    Riekki, J., Salminen, T., Alakärppä, I.: Requesting Pervasive Services by Touching RFID Tags. IEEE Pervasive Computing 5(1), 40–46 (2006), doi:10.1109/MPRV.2006.12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Parton, B.S., Hancock, R.: When Physical and Digital Worlds Collide: A Tool for Early Childhood Learners. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning 52(5), 22–25 (2008), doi:10.1007/s11528-008-0191-4Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sharp, R., Rehman, K.: The 2005 UbiApp Workshop: What Makes Good Application-Led Research? IEEE Pervasive Computing 4(3), 80–82 (2005), doi:10.1109/MPRV.2005.69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bus, A.G., Neuman, S.B. (eds.): Multimedia and literacy development. Routledge, New York (2009)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Want, R., Fishkin, K.P., Gujar, A., Harrison, B.L.: Bridging physical and virtual worlds with electronic tags. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: The CHI is the Limit, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, pp. 370–377 (1999)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Want, R.: Near Field Communication. IEEE Pervasive Computing 10, 4–7 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Välkkynen, P., Korhonen, I., Plomp, J., Tuomisto, T., Cluitmans, L., Ailisto, H., Seppä, H.: A user interaction paradigm for physical browsing and near-object control based on tags. In: PI 2003. Workshop on Real World User Interfaces in Conjunction with Mobile, HCI 2003, Udine, Italy (2003)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ehri, L.C.: Development of the ability to read words. In: Barr, R., Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P.B., Pearson, P.D. (eds.) Handbook of Reading Research, vol. II, pp. 383–417. Routledge, London (1991)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Van der Kooy-Hofland, V., Kegel, C.A.T., Bus, A.: Evidence-based computer interventions targeting phonological awareness to prevent reading problems in at-risk young students. In: Neuman, S.B., Dickinson, D.K. (eds.) Handbook of Early Literacy Research, vol. III, pp. 214–227. Guilford Publications, New York (2011)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Korkeamäki, R.-L.: How first graders and kindergarten children constructed literacy knowledge in the context of story reading and meaningful writing. In: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. E 21, pp. 951–942. University of Oulu (1996) ISBN 951-42-4290-4Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bloodgood, J.W.: What’s in a name? Children’s name writing and literacy acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly 34(3), 342–367 (1999),, doi:10.1598/RRQ.34.3.5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Laouris, Y., Eteokoeous, N.: We need an educationally relevant definition of mobile learning. In: 4th World Conference on mLearning, Cape Town, October 25-28, pp. 1–13 (2005),
  14. 14.
    Lam, J., Yau, J., Cheung, S.K.S.: A Review of Mobile Learning in the Mobile Age. In: Tsang, P., Cheung, S.K.S., Lee, V.S.K., Huang, R. (eds.) ICHL 2010. LNCS, vol. 6248, pp. 306–315. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cavus, N., Ibrahim, D.: m-Learning: An experiment in using SMS to support learning new English language words. British Journal of Educational Technology (40), 78–91 (2009)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Revelle, G., Reardon, E., Mays Green, M., Betancourt, J., Kotler, J.: The Use of Mobile Phones to Support Children’s Literacy Learning. In: de Kort, Y.A.W., IJsselsteijn, W.A., Midden, C., Eggen, B., Fogg, B.J. (eds.) PERSUASIVE 2007. LNCS, vol. 4744, pp. 253–258. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ervasti, M., Isomursu, M., Kinnula, M.: Experiences from NFC Supported School Attendance Supervision for Children. In: Third International Conference on Mobile Ubiquitous Computing, Systems, Services and Technologies, UBICOMM 2009, October 11-16, pp. s22–30 (2009), doi:10.1109/UBICOMM.2009.9Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sanchez, I., Riekki, J., Rousu, J., Pirttikangas, S.: Touch & Share: RFID Based Ubiquitous File Containers. In: 8th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia, MUM 2008, Umeå, Sweden, December 3-5, pp. 57–63 (2008), doi: 10.1145/1543137.1543148 Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sung, J.-Y., Levisohn, A., Song, J.-W., Tomassetti, B., Mazalek, A.: Shadow Box: an interactive learning toy for children. In: The First IEEE International Workshop on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning, DIGITEL 2007, pp. 206–208 (2007), doi:10.1109/DIGITEL.2007.43Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Weiser, M., Gold, R., Brown, J.S.: The origins of ubiquitous computing research at PARC in the late 1980s. IBM Systems Journal 38(4), 693–696 (1999) ISSN: 0018-8670, doi:10.1147/sj.384.0693 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jukka Riekki
    • 1
  • Marta Cortés
    • 1
  • Marja Hytönen
    • 1
  • Iván Sánchez
    • 1
  • Riitta-Liisa Korkeamäki
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OuluOuluFinland

Personalised recommendations