The Norwegian curriculum requires teachers of early grade classrooms to involve digital tools in literacy instruction, without any specification of how and to what extent digital tools should be used. As a consequence, Norwegian classrooms display a large variation in how letters and handwriting are explicitly taught and trained.
Over recent years, teacher training institutions have faced a new phenomenon; elementary schools dismissing pen and paper until the second grade for the benefit of writing applications with advanced text/letter-to-speech synthesis on digital tablets. Research on the gains and pitfalls of these new practices is lacking. There is a need for knowledge and understanding on how these practices give implications for different groups of disadvantaged students as well as for general learning outcome.
The proposed project DigiHand is funded by the Norwegian Research Council, and aims to produce knowledge and competence on this unexplored practice in Norwegian classrooms, by comparing classrooms where handwriting instruction is combined with digital tools to classrooms where only digital tools for writing are applied. The ambition is twofold: to inform the forefront of teachers and teacher training on an ongoing change, and to publish high quality research of national and international significance.
DigiHand is a joint effort of Volda University College (VUC) and the University of Stavanger (UIS). In addition to the innovative initiative to current societal changes inherent in DigiHand, the formal competency building at VUC is a central goal of the project.