Increasing educators’ understanding of how children learn to use technologies through the Digital Play Framework Intervention Project

Year: 2018

Author: Bird, Jo, Rogers, Marg

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
As technologies increase in prevalence in early childhood settings, understanding children ’s use of technologies is lagging behind the uptake (Aubrey & Dahl, 2014). Play is seen as the way children learn and how they learn to use technologies has become a research focus. This qualitative study used the Digital Play Framework (DPF)(Bird & Edwards, 2014) as an intervention tool to increase educators’ understanding of the behaviours children display as they learn to use the devices. The DPF combines Vygotsky’s (1997) concept of tool mediation, with Hutt’s (1966) exploration of the novel object in children’s play. The framework lists behaviours and indicators children exhibit as they explore technologies in playful ways.
 
The pilot intervention study (Sannino & Sutter, 2011) involved five educators attending a workshop where the DPF and the related theories were explained. Educators returned to their centres and used the DPF in their observations and planning, recording their observations, planning, thoughts and feelings as they implemented the framework in their journal. After six weeks of implementing the DPF, the educators attended a focus group, sharing and discussing their experiences. A survey was conducted before the workshop to establish the educators’ understanding of children’s use of technologies and the theories involved in the DPF. Another survey was administered at the focus group to determine any changes in the educators’ understandings throughout the intervention period. The findings included an increase in educators’ understanding of children’s use of technologies and ways to support their learning, as well as suggested improvements for the DPF. Implications of what the educators learned and how this affected their confidence will be discussed as a way forward in the improvement of both pedagogy and practice.
 
Aubrey, C., & Dahl, S. (2014). The confidence and competence in information and communication technologies of practitioners, parents and young children in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Early Years, 34(1), 94-108.
Bird, J., & Edwards, S. (2014). Children learning to use technologies through play: A Digital Play Framework. British Journal of Educational Technology, 1149-1160.
Hutt, C. (1966). Exploration and Play in Children. Paper presented at the Symposia of the Zoological Society of London, England.
Sannino, A., & Sutter, B. (2011). Cultural-historical activity theory and interventionist methodology: Classical legacy and contemporary developments. Theory & Psychology, 21(5), 557-570.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). Research Method. In R. W. Rieber (Ed.), The Collected Works of L.S.Vygotsky (Vol. 4, pp. 27-65). New York, NY: Plenum Press.

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