Exploring educators' perceptions and future visions of technologies in early childhood settings

Year: 2017

Author: Bird, Jo, Rogers, Marg

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Technologies have become ubiquitous in early childhood services, but the provision of devices in individual services varies dramatically (National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) & Fred Rogers Centre for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College, 2012). Previous research into the use of technologies in early childhood education has revealed a number of barriers and supports (Nikolopoulou & Gialamas, 2015). The identified barriers include: educator attitudes and confidence (Aldhafeeri, Palaiologou, & Folorunsho, 2016; Orlando, 2014; Plowman & McPake, 2013); educators' pedagogical beliefs (Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Glazewski, Newby, & Ertmer, 2010; Thorpe et al., 2015); accessibility to up-to-date devices (Blackwell, Lauricella, & Wartella, 2014; Fenty & Anderson, 2014); and lack of support and professional development (Nuttall, Edwards, Mantilla, Grieshaber, & Wood, 2015). Supports have traditionally been identified as educator support, research, community expectations and identified benefits for children's learning (Amorsen, 2015). Often presented is a mismatch between educators recognising the value of children's technology use and the integration of these devices in their play-based settings (Ihmeideh, 2009).

This study aims to identify the current reality for early childhood educators using digital technologies in their Australian based services and their visions for the future. In detail, it explores what and how educators use technologies and their confidence in using them in various parts of their programme. Using a mixed method approach (Creswell & Planco Clark, 2011), this pilot study targeted educators from a range of services across Australia, using an online survey. The findings were analysed using NVivo (QSR International, 2012) for qualitative and Qualtrics (Qualtrics, 2017) for quantitative data. The results were viewed through the lens of the UNESCO (2011) ICT competency framework for teachers. The largely female respondents represent services including long day care centres, preschool (the year or two before school), family day care, early intervention and out-of-school-hours care settings.

This paper will present some initial findings as we begin to understand what is occurring for educators and to reveal the complex challenges for early childhood services, within the Australian context. The findings also illustrate the vision, educators have for future capacity building.