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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.

Course objectives

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



Mode of instruction

Studying key research articles/chapters in preparation of meetings during which we interactively discuss the literature. Students give a presentation about the literature. In all there are 7 meetings.

Assessment method


Written reviews

Knowledge clip

An essay about one of the topics related to the course


During this course Blackboard 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 Blackboard).
    Small changes are possible (also in the reading list), see Blackboard!


Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for lectures, seminars, exams and re-exams. Student who do not register, cannot attend courses or take exams. For information about uSis registration see Course and Exam Enrollment.


  • Registration for the lectures of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the seminars of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first seminar at the latest.


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