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Whitecaps on the keyboard: A voyage of discovery with computers in an elementary classroom

, University of California, Berkeley, United States

University of California, Berkeley . Awarded


The purpose of this ethnographic research study was to extend the knowledge base that contributes to an improved understanding of the role that classroom technology plays early literacy development. Three major aims guided the study: first, an exploration of the ways in which classroom technology provided opportunities to make use of multiple symbol systems in the meaning construction process; second, to consider different elements of cognitive explorations which became evident when children made use of classroom technology in literacy activities; and third, to examine the nature of the relationship between classroom technology and children's affect. An integration of these areas allowed one to look more critically at the relationship between technology and literacy and the ways in which technology may both support and constrain literacy development. Guiding the discussion was a theoretical rationale which was based on a sociocognitive view of learning. The relationship between technology and literacy was embedded in social, cultural, and political contexts. In this study, the resource of classroom technology was appropriated by children in a multitude of ways as they developed as literate human beings. Technology is a tool for meaning making that is embedded within existing classroom cultures. The constraints, values and possibilities inherent in the culture shape the way participants use the tool. It is therefore critically important to examine this culture as a framework for understanding technology and its role in early literacy development. Technology use cannot and should not stand alone from the existing classroom culture. Students' literacy learning is influenced by their social relationships with each other, the expectations and instructional goals of their teacher, the task at hand, the toles they take on, and the varied components of the tools they use to construct meaning.


Carroll, M.P. Whitecaps on the keyboard: A voyage of discovery with computers in an elementary classroom. Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved April 19, 2019 from .

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