Families participated in interviews and surveys all 3 years. Additional information was collected in field notes and informal interviews as family members visited classrooms and workshops. Families reported that they saw children looking at, reading, and interacting with books more than before. Children were also retelling stories instead of only listening passively to family members read the story. Children who had not previously asked to be read to asked family members to read to them. Families reported that children were paying more attention to letters, words and names as well as to pictures.
Families were very satisfied with the ITLC in the children's classroom, remarking "great learning experience," and "good for future." Two responses from parent interviews included,
Yes, I do think the computer in the room has helped Mary. She can pick out a computer in any book or picture now. She definitely has more of an interest in having a book read to her. She has more interaction with the book and pictures now when we read a book. It has helped her with the reaction-action type things and her verbalization with things she recognizes. She is listening more attentively to books.
The computer has been a real help for Ned. Watching him on the computer has given us an idea of where his strengths are that we can pursue, as well as skills that are lacking. It has shown me a whole different side of him.
Changes in the Literacy Environment of the Home
Families changed the technology environment of the home. Fifteen families purchased computers and/or either increased the amount of time their children could use the computer or began allowing their children to use the computer that was already in the home. In one of the first family interviews, a mother admitted she had not thought of allowing her young son, diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disability (autism), to use the home computer. Later, after observing the effects of the ITLC in the classroom and realizing the benefits from the use of the technology at school, the parents purchased software and encouraged their son to use the home computer.
Other families bought more appropriate software for use at home, asking for and receiving guidance from the teacher when buying software that aligned with what was being used in the classroom. Families and teachers reported that they saw book buying behaviors changing as families bought books that were related to the software program. One ITLC teacher reported, A mother just sent in four Richard Scary books because of [her child's interest in] Busytown. The children have learned the names of the characters and [their interest] is carrying over into the books parents buy. The children are making connections [from the software] to characters in other books. This mom knew how much we like Busytown, and she sent us the books to borrow for a while. The parents hear about what we are doing from their kids, and that is helping them make choices in books that they're buying instead of buying books based on the latest movie...
Family Participation in the ITLC
Families were involved in the ITLC in different ways. All were aware of the study through initial letters that accompanied the permission forms each year explaining the ITLC and research project. They were kept up-to-date with information printed in ongoing newsletters from the classroom teachers and staff. Teachers talked about the ITLC at open house meetings and during progress reports. Families expressed a willingness to be involved in the ITLC and the research project as they filled out questionnaires, surveys, and answered questions in informal and formal interviews. All families were invited into the classrooms to use technology and ITLC with children. Some participated in those activities while other families came to afternoon and evening workshops where they recorded messages over voice mail and left e-mail for their children, learned more about the software that was used in the ITLC, or gained technology skills as they learned how to use a mouse or a word processing program.
Family members discussed software programs with their children when children came home at the end of the day and shared a story about a program that they had worked on that day or a picture that had been created in a graphics program. In Fox Lake, parents joined a group that evaluated software prior to be purchased for the classroom.