New Play Pedagogies for Early Childhood Education

Year: 2016

Author: Edwards, Susan, Grieshaber, Susan, Nuttall, Joce, Wood, Elizabeth, Mantilla, Ana

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Young children’s access to internet-enabled touchscreen technologies is rising in Australia, and around the world. Research shows that children aged 0-5 typically use technologies for at least one to two hours a day. Technology use by young children is associated with increased digital media engagement and interests in popular-culture characters. The influence of digital media, technologies and popular-culture on young children’s play is now pervasive. A challenge for early childhood educators is how best to capture and build on these interests in the early childhood classroom as basis for building young children’s participation in learning. Primary and secondary education teachers are able to access pedagogical concepts, such as multi-literacies or ‘New Learning’ to support them in building children’s digital literacy and multimodality capacities. Early childhood education is yet to have developed a comprehensive framework for attending to young children’s play with technologies, digital media and popular-culture – or what we call ‘New Play’. In this paper, we report the early findings from a research project investigating the range of New Play pedagogies developed and implemented by early childhood educators based on the concept of web-mapping. Web-mapping is a pedagogical observation and planning innovation that integrates traditional play, such as construction and/or role play with young children’s engagements in digital and popular-culture based activities. Data reported in this paper pertains to research conducted with four early childhood educators and twenty-one children. Using Vygotsky’s (1987) concept of tool mediation, we examine the use of web-mapping as a new conceptual tool for fostering children’s New Play that allows educators to realise new pedagogical activities that integrate traditional and digital activities as the object of their activity. Our data set includes: observation, planning and assessment documents maintained by educators, video-footage of young children engaged in new-play based learning experiences and interview transcripts with teachers regarding their experiences with web-mapping. Based on the identified pedagogies of New Literacies, such as digital meaning-making with children and cultural interpretation, we consider the extent to which web-mapping similarly enables the identification of New Play pedagogies. We argue that further research into the concept of New Play is necessary as young children’s engagements with technologies, digital media and popular-culture become increasingly domesticated, and governments around the world turn their attention to innovations in STEM teaching and learning in the early years. Reference:Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). Research Method. In R. W. Rieber (Ed.), The Collected Works of L.S.Vygotsky (Vol. 4). New York: Plenum Press.