This question was posted on the home page of my blog recently. I finally found time to answer it:
The only technology that I believe boosts both sight word recognition and motivation are narrated eBooks – Nook books, Kindle books, Oceanhouse Media apps, iBooks. Narrated eBooks allow a nonreader to bypass the decoding, for now, and just focus on comprehension and engagement. The examples I mentioned have minimal/no animation and professional narration. In addition, the words are often highlighted as they are read. There are other apps that consider themselves eBooks. However, the amount of animation and options that come with them can distract the reader from the purpose of reading in the first place (for learning and for enjoyment). My thinking is not based on any evidence or research that I am aware of, just observation and common sense.
When reading aloud eBooks to older students without narration, consider using mirroring technology. A teacher can project the Kindle or Nook book onto the whiteboard from their tablet. Kids can see the words, as well as watch you annotate and highlight important text. These interactions with digital text can then be shared out on social media, such as a classroom Twitter account. It’s a great way to model summarization, teach conventions, and encourage digital citizenship.
Of course, technology doesn’t beat a teacher or parent reading aloud to a child every day!
I am interested in others’ thoughts on this topic. Can technology help with reading achievement and engagement? What have you found to be effective?