'It's all pretend." Exploring the engagement and provision of working and non-working technologies in play-based settings

Year: 2016

Author: Bird, Jo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Early childhood education settings have long espoused the value of play for children’s learning and development. As the prevalence of technologies increases in these settings, researchers are calling for more understanding around how technologies and play-based learning can marry. Before this can occur, exploration into the characteristics of children’s play with working and non-working technologies needs to be understood. Alongside this, is the educators provision of these technologies and what influences how and why they provide the technologies they do.This paper is based on a project that explored the characteristics of children’s imaginative play with working and non-working technologies and the influences on educator’s provision of these devices in play-based settings. The research was conducted in two kindergartens in Melbourne, Australia, with children between four and six years of age. An ethnographic study was undertaken, with the data collection phase lasting 12 weeks in each of the two settings.This paper explores how children and educators perceive affordance with working and non-working technologies for children’s imaginative play. The findings showed the two participant groups perceived the affordances of technologies differently. The children’s perception of the technologies, displayed through their engagement with what was provided, clearly showed how they perceived their affordance. On the other hand, the educators perceived the working technologies did not afford imaginative play and this was demonstrated through the rules and restrictions they placed on the provision of these devices.The findings have implications for their early childhood field. As yet there is little literature around how children engage with technologies in their imaginative play or their particular responses to what is, or is not, provided. The influences on the educator’s provision of both the working and non-working technologies impacts the children’s play and investigate these influences may help to improve the integration of technologies in play-based learning settings.