Towards a Model of Technology and Literacy Development:

Story Listening Systems




MIT Media Laboratory, E15-315

20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA,





Abstract:  This article lays out a program of research designed to address one specific need of young children – to learn how to write – based on one specific ability of young children – the ability to tell stories.  I outline a model that accounts for how non-screen-and-keyboard based technologies that listen to children can be used in such a way as to support their emergent literacy behaviors and have an effect on their subsequent writing skills.  The model comprises four components: the importance of emergent literacy behaviors, which are features of literate language that are demonstrated in children’s oral language, the critical role played by a socially-situated peer, the design of non-keyboard-based computational technologies, and the potential of information technologies that encourage construction rather than consumption.  I describe one kind of technology that fits the model -- the story listening system (SLS) – and describe a number of implemented story listening systems and evaluation of their use by children.