African Storybook

The design approach for African Storybook web site and apps wins Best Paper at ED-MEDIA 2017

The aim of the African Storybook (ASb) initiative is to support and promote literacy in the languages of Africa using digital storybooks made available through openly licensed digital storybooks distributed by means of web-based Internet and mobile app services. These services make use of the web standards of HTML, CSS and JavaScript to support over 97 African languages as well as English, French and Portuguese. Currently there are close to 4000 storybooks in the repository. Story development and publication was supported by a number of pilot countries including Uganda, Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa. The services made available through ASb include on-line and off-line (mobile app and document download) reading, and online storybook authoring (creation, translation and adaption).

The research presented here documents and evaluates the redesign of the Internet-based services (reading, authoring, research), which include the ASb web site and Reading app for iOS and Android, to address these practical problems identified above and to make use of theoretical heuristics that not only underpin the design and use of the storybooks, but also the redesign of the reading, authoring and research services. Research associated with the ASb initiative often make use of sociocultural theory. For example, Treffry-Goatley (2016) argues that analytical tools offered by critical literacy would allow children to engage with the perspectives and positions presented in texts. In particular, such an approach includes affect, fantasy and play. Therefore, to create coherence between the theory that is used to research the use and design of storybooks that are part of ASb, it is appropriate to use Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) allied to Human-Computer Interactions (HCI) to design the tools to mediate the reading, authoring and research of these storybooks.