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What is exactly happening with reading in the digital age? And how can we keep up?

Every generation believes that theirs has seen the most change, the most progress (real or imagined) the most difference. It would be hard to imagine one that has seen more change than has happened in the last twenty years.

CBN is proud to be involved in a programme introducing teachers to the possibilities of using iPads to teach. We are, naturally, most interested in how these magical devices can help us bring excitement to reading real books.

But it is important to know that we don’t see these incredible bits of technology as a substitute, or even a more dynamic object for children to hold in their hands while the written word passes in front of their eyes. We think that, yes, it is initially a treat to use high-end technology to read. But that wears off. These are not sacred tablets.

What doesn’t wear off is the infinite capacity to creatively use the technology to deeply involve young readers in making their own interactive reports, stories, books, films, music, poetry, photojournalism and a rich combination of all of the above. IPads are also FUN – a word that CBN is dedicated to.

We began to experiment with the technology at a recent workshop at which we hosted Swedish students and young people from Red Hill informal settlement. The results will be posted soon. We are also investigating how we can use the iPads (once we have a sufficient number) to pre-create projects that groups can work on together, highlighting texts around the topics; incorporating sound and music as well as video clips.

Well, that’s what we know about so far. You never know what you don’t know. There is a huge amount to learn still. Is it exciting, or just terrifying? No. It’s fun for us too.

With many thanks to Digicape in Cape Town for the loan of two iPads and to the Swedish students who have taken CBN on as one of their projects in the ‘Help the World to Read’ project they are running. They have already donated funds for one iPad to CBN.