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The learning child in a digital world


NB Language spoken is English unless only Dutch-speaking students participate


The course aims at navigating, translating and advancing a new vision for literacy and becoming literate in the digital age. Illuminating great research, we aim at discussing important topics concerning language and literacy: how reading is gradually changing in function and form and how this affects readers; how children’s activities in the ever-evolving realm of digital media are changing and how this may affect children’s language and (emergent) literacy; rethinking learn-to-read in a digital age; how digitization can be used to make books/texts more accessible for young readers but also, the other side of the coin, which new problems with reading might emerge and how to prevent or solve those.

During the course we will highlight important theoretical perspectives like multimedia learning (Richard Mayer), adaptivity built in programs/apps, understanding which programs cause multitasking and how this affects learning, electronic tutoring and its effects, and differential susceptibility to qualities of computer programs. As a tour guide we will select key research articles for all topics.

NB This course is also open for Research Master students as an elective. For research master students the course will contain an extra assignment. Students need to contact the instructor after the first class to discuss the content of the extra assignment.

Course objectives

  1. Reflection on consequences of the ever-changing realm of digital media in children’s environment for language and literacy development.
  2. Familiarize with new text formats and reflect on how those affect learn-to-read.
  3. Familarize with theories of multimedia learning, multitasking, electronic tutoring and adaptivity of text/programs.
  4. Differential susceptibility for computer programs.
  5. Important tools resulting from digitization like adaptive platforms for digitized texts.


Mode of instruction

Studying key research articles/chapters in preparation of (online) meetings during which we interactively discuss the literature. Students give a presentation about the literature. In all there are seven meetings.
Research Masterstudents write all exams and reviews in English.
Small changes are possible, see Brightspace!

Assessment method

Presentations, 7 written reviews and knowledge clip. The final written review will be graded. All other assignments need to be satisfactory.


During this course Brightspace will be used.

Reading list

  • L. Guernsey & M. H. Levine (2015). Tap, click, read. Growing readers in a world of screens. Jossey-Bass.

  • Scientific papers (to be announced, see course description on Brightspace).
    Small changes are possible (also in the reading list), see Brightspace!



Students need to register for lectures in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration. After registration in uSis students will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Students are not automatically registered for exams. They can register themselves in uSis until 10 calendar days before the exam date at the latest. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the exam.

Please consult the course and exam registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

The exam of this course is a written report. Hence, you do not have to register for an exam in uSis.

Contact information

Co-ordinator of this course is dr. T.M. Sikkema- de Jong