VEBB (Developing a tool for evaluating children’s e-books) is an innovation project that will provide research-based knowledge about the use of touch-screen tablets in language-centered activities in kindergarten. Through close collaboration with teachers in six kindergartens in the Stavanger municipality, as well as NettOp (Department for web-based learning, University of Stavanger), researchers in VEBB will develop an online evaluation tool – VEBB – for evaluating the appropriateness and quality of picture book apps for use in shared reading.
During the first year of the project, we have been focusing on quality assessment of the four titles to be used in the video study, as well as on theoretical and practical considerations related to video observation of shared reading with groups of children in kindergarten settings. Twelve teachers in six kindergartens have carried out shared reading sessions in which they have read a selection of stories (in digital and in print version) with a group of children. These reading sessions were video recorded. Prior to these sessions, the teachers have attended seminars where they have been trained in the shared reading method, and they have also learned how to operate the camera and to use the iPad for picture book app reading. The researchers in A2 (Quality assessment) have selected four titles that are available in print and as an app, based on selection criteria such as their potential to facilitate rich dialogues related to the story, the aesthetic quality of the pictures and animations, the quality of the narrative, and the potential for interactivity.
In addition to the video data, we have developed questionnaires for the parents, the teachers, and the children. In these questionnaires, we ask about the interest and engagement in reading, children’s experiences with reading activities at home and in kindergarten, their motivation, access to digital technologies in kindergarten and at home, etc. Together with the video data, findings from the questionnaires will provide a rich source of knowledge on which to develop the evaluation tool (expected to be launched during summer 2018).
During 2017, there has been a number of activities: courses/seminars with kindergarten teachers, piloting of questionnaires in collaboration with teachers, piloting the video sessions, and meetings/seminars with all groups involved in VEBB (the research group; the reference group; the steering group; the Scientific Advisory Board). VEBB has also been presented in several venues specifically targeted at early childhood education practitioners and researchers: Utdanningskonferansen, Forum for barnehagevitenskap, and at the Nordic research conference Skriv! Les!. The project also got substantial media coverage in relation to the project launch seminar in February (see http://lesesenteret.uis.no/vebb/ for links). The first peer reviewed article is in press in Norsk Pedagogisk Tidsskrift (nr. 4, 2017).