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Edwards, S., Mantilla, A., Grieshaber, S., Nuttall, J., & Wood, E. (2020). Converged play characteristics for early childhood education: multi-modal, global-local, and traditional-digital. Oxford Review of Education. DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2020.1750358

With the increase in digital technologies interest in converged play has grown. Converged play occurs by integrating traditional forms of play with digital activities. Teachers in this study used a tool mediation framework to construct digital play activities which were linked with children’s identified interests. The use of web mapping and parent interviews allowed teachers to construct play activities that linked with children’s home lives. The study identifies three characteristics of converged play: Multi-modal, whereby teachers and children use technology as a resource or reference point for learning; Global-local, using a socio cultural lens teachers provided opportunities that were relevant to the current time; and Traditional digital, this characteristic enabled teachers to merge resources and digital resources to develop ideas and express knowledge. Although this study suggests that converged play may be at odds with traditional pedagogical models of exploration, problem-solving and social interaction, it also makes it apparent that converged play can be used as a starting point that can be engaged alongside traditional pedagogical models.

Module link: This research provides explicit examples of how educators have merged traditional play experiences with digital play experiences. In some instances, educators did not have technology available to them, however, were still able to provide opportunities that linked with and expanded on children’s digital understandings. In these examples, you will also see how the digital play 3C Questioning framework may have been used.

Neumann, M., & Herodotou, C. (2020). Evaluating YouTube videos for young childrenEducation and Information Technologies. 10.1007/s10639-020-10183-7.

The entertainment site, YouTube, has become increasingly popular with young children. Neumann and Herodotou (2020) examine the evidence behind this type of video screen media and its possible effects on young children. Based on the research evidence, the authors formulated an evaluation rubric for potential use with educators or families to analyse YouTube videos targeted at children 0 to 8 years old. The rubric is broken down into four key criteria with supporting questions in the areas of Age appropriateness, Content quality, Design features and Learning objectives.

Module link: The evaluation rubric supports the “Contest” phase of the Digital Play3C Questioning Framework by providing further questions which encourage educators to critically reflect on the content they explore with young children.

Pöntinen, S., & Räty-Záborszky, S. (2020). Pedagogical aspects to support students’ evolving digital competence at school. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 28(2), 182-196, DOI: 10.1080/1350293X.2020.1735736

The ability to interact, engage with, access and use digital technology is often referred to as digital literacy. This article explores this further and uses the related term of digital competence. The authors’ present research evidence to support teaching young children evaluative and critical thinking skills alongside the technical skills of digital platforms. The study found that children were more engaged in the learning process when undertaking spontaneous learning opportunities. These opportunities fostered engagement with their peers, however, their ability to solve problems related to new features of digital applications was lacking. This study supports the importance of modelling and guiding children’s technological skills to promote digital competence.

Module link: This article provides research evidence that explains digital literacy. The Digital Play module explicates the processes of relational information literacy to support children’s practices of finding, evaluating and applying information across contexts.

Undheim, M., & Jernes, M. (2020). Teachers’ pedagogical strategies when creating digital stories with young children. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 28(2), 256-271, DOI: 10.1080/1350293X.2020.1735743

Digital technology has become an ever present norm in children’s lives. This study explores teacher’s pedagogical strategies implemented to encourage children’s participation in digital practices. The study found teachers encouraged children to participate using a child centred approach by inviting children to have a voice throughout their project. Encouraging talk amongst the children throughout the project by modelling and highlighting what was happening encouraged children to problem solve and make new discoveries of their own.

Module link: Inviting and explaining were the two most common pedagogical practices employed by the educators reported in this study. The Digital Play 3C Questioning Framework provides questions which enable educators to invite children to consider new ways of thinking and exploring, in order to help children to become evaluative and critical thinkers.

Danby, S., Evaldsson, A., Melander, H., & Aarsand, P. (2018). Situated collaboration and problem solving in young children’s digital gameplay. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(5), 959–972. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12636

This research looked at play episodes through games with children 3-8 years across different settings. The study looked at language used by the children through collaboration as they work towards solving problems and sharing digital devices and the skills needed for doing so.

Gaming for young children and the social relationships developed through game play and maintained in online and offline spaces has been the topic of previous research. Knowing how to play games in spaces such as preschool settings has been shone to involve learning from one another how to organize games, evaluate movements in the games and how to understand the nuances of games (Bjork-Willen & Aronsson, 2014).

The use of digital game playing for young children is one part of young children’s engagement with digital technologies. This research reinforces gaming as a social exchange where children work together to give instruction, gain access to play and to work towards successful outcomes. Problem solving was also recognized as an outcome of the collaborative digital play. The skills needed to negotiate the digital gaming were found to be similar as those strategies children use outside of digital game play.

Module link: Children’s engagement with digital technologies requires them to problem solve and make judgements about what is true and useful. This process is referred to throughout the Digital Play module as “Relational Information Literacy”.

Early Childhood Australia (ECA). (2018). Statement on young children and digital technologies. Canberra, ACT: ECA. http://dx.doi.org/10.23965/ECA.001

The ECA Statement on young children and digital technologies was developed to provide guidance for early childhood professionals in the use of digital technologies with young children. This statement provides an evidence base from which educators can make decisions regarding the use of digital technology. Each area of the statement provides guiding principles, along with practical advice on the use of technology with young children and takes into consideration the contexts in which children, their families and educators work.

Module link: The play and pedagogy principle promotes exploration and meaning making in digital contexts. The use of this principle is seen throughout the Digital Play Kangaroo Paw learning story. The educator provides opportunities for children to explore a diverse range of technology, including iPads, TV’s and digital cameras, as they play. The educator models thinking strategies to encourage children to evaluate and make meaning of information as they search for answers as to why the Kangaroo Paw has turned brown. The 3C questioning framework promotes meaning making and exploration to support young children as they explore, build knowledge, evaluate and make decisions about digital content.

The ability to interact in today’s digital landscape where large amounts of information exist is an important skill. Whilst there is no clear definition of what it means to be information literate, Bruce (2008) defines it as the ability to interact with information effectively. This article presents research evidence to support the terms information literacy and classifies information literacy into two main categories “functional” or “relational” (Gunton et al., 2014).

The article reports on a study that explored educators’, teachers’, and librarians understandings related to information literacy. Whilst the study revealed no clear understanding of information literacy from amongst the group, there was evidence to support the use of a range of pedagogical practices used to assist children in finding information.

Module link: The research presented in this article highlighted that educators were looking for more information about how to incorporate information literacy and digital play with young children and was the springboard for the Digital Play project.

Shpeizer, R. (2018). Teaching critical thinking as a vehicle for personal and social transformation. Research in Education, 100(1), 32–49. https://doi.org/10.1177/0034523718762176

Critical thinking is a word that is often used in educational contexts. This paper examines the development of the critical thinking model and provides an understanding of how to facilitate critical thinking in learning experiences. The author suggests that critical thinking is not just about the ability to weigh up differing ideas and understand one’s own thinking. Rather, critical thinking includes the ability to evaluate, reflect on and make decisions or opinions on how this information is applied.

Module link: The Digital Play 3C Questioning Framework provides a set of prompts that help educators support children to develop critical thinking capacities when interacting with information.

Danby S., Davidson C., Theobald M., Houen S., & Thorpe K. (2017). Pretend Play and Technology: Young Children Making Sense of Their Everyday Social Worlds. In: Lynch S., Pike D., à Beckett C. (eds) Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth and Beyond. International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development, vol 18. Springer, Singapore.

Young children use play to make sense of their worlds. This study sought to understand how young children use technology in their everyday life and how it supports their pretend play. The study used conversational analysis to understand moments when children were interacting or engaging in play. The episodes showed children engaged in real and pretend play and that the depth of the children’s talk in pretend play showed insights into their play. Children in everyday life draw on objects, both real and not real to support their play. In their use of online technologies children used pretend and real objects in play episodes that drew on real objects to engage in pay episodes.

Module link: Children’s engagement with digital technologies requires them to problem solve and make judgements about what is true and useful. This process is referred to throughout the Digital Play module as “Relational Information Literacy”. The Digital Play 3 C Questioning Framework provides a set of prompts that help educators support children to develop critical thinking capacities when interacting with information in digital play.

Marsh, E. J., & Yang, B. W. (2017). A call to think broadly about information literacy. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition,6(4), pp. 401-404 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2017.09.012

Misinformation and unfound truths are complex and dynamic trends arising from the inclusion of digital technologies. This paper provides evidence from a cognitive psychologist perspective on the growing need to be able to process, evaluate and critically reflect on information accessed. The authors explain the process of identifying and evaluating information and the credibility of sources, whilst setting aside your own preconceived notions and how our perspectives and ideology change in the face of this new evidence.

Module link: The Digital Play module explicates the processes of relational information literacy to support children’s practices of finding, evaluating and applying information across contexts using the 3C Questioning Framework: Connect, Contest, Create.

Reznitskaya, A., & Wilkinson, I. (2017). The most reasonable answer. Helping students build better arguments together. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Education Press

This book presents evidence to support the evaluation process, Contest, in the Digital Play’s 3C Questioning Framework. Reznitskaya & Wilkinson (2017) highlight clarity as a criteria for helping children to create good arguments. They suggest focusing on clarifying meaning, connecting ideas, and providing a reason for ideas and tracking their inquiry.

Module link: The Digital Play 3C Questioning Framework incorporates the steps of evaluating for clarity and tracking in the Contest stage, to help children to further evaluate and make judgements about the information sourced.

© Queensland University of Technology. Source: Overview of Four ART Criteria and Eleven Practices, Appendix B, in Reznitskaya, A., Wilkinson, I. A. G.(2017). The Most Reasonable Answer Helping Students Build Better Arguments Together, page 196. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Adapted with permission.

Aldhafeeri, F., Palaiologou, I., & Folorunsho, A. (2016). Integration of digital technologies into play-based pedagogy in Kuwaiti early childhood education: teachers’ views, attitudes and aptitudes. International Journal of Early Years Education, 24(3), 342-360, DOI: 10.1080/09669760.2016.1172477

This paper reports on how early childhood education in Kuwaiti is responding to the use of digital technologies in the classroom and to what extent these technologies are incorporated in a play based pedagogy. A total of 195 educators took part in the study which included a questionnaire including items about educator’s personal ownership and use of digital devices, what devices are available within their classrooms along with educator’s attitudes and aptitudes towards the use of digital devices in the classroom and how such devices can promote play based learning experiences. The authors suggest that although the educators were competent in the use of digital technology they sought more understanding of how to incorporate technology successfully into their programs and in particular into a play-based learning framework.

Module link: Digital Play module promotes exploration and meaning making in digital contexts. The Digital Play Kangaroo Paw learning story highlights how seamlessly digital devices such as an iPad can be incorporated into learning and play as the children explore the plants in their natural environment.

Davidson, C., Danby, S., Given, L., & Thorpe, K. (2016). Facilitating young children's use of the web in preschool. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30(4), pp. 569-584.

This study examined video footage between two children aged between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 years and the interactions with their teacher around conducting a web search to find and view footage in a typical pre-school setting. The study shows that the process of using digital technology in the classroom was delicately intertwined within the interactional activities in the classroom. This included the promotion of child-centred activities which allow the child to be more involved in the process of using technology, developing shared understandings through a questioning approach and also included the management of the cohort as interactions took place between the child and teacher. The study illustrates how the use of technology in a whole-class setting is a delicate balance between allowing a child to share their ideas, encouraging critical thinking through questioning and maintaining the attention of a large number of children.

Module link: In the Digital Play Kangaroo Paw learning story, the educator is working outdoors with a group of children to find out why the Kangaroo Paw might be brown. She encourages critical thinking through questioning and collaboration with the children. Using the Digital Play 3C Questioning Framework, the educator is in the “Contest” phase and demonstrates the process by thinking aloud and problem solving what else they need to know, to help children evaluate and make judgements about the information as they play and learn.

Marklund, L., & Dunkels, E. (2016). Digital play as a means to develop children’s literacy and power in the Swedish preschool. Early Years: Digital Play and Technologies in the Early Years, 36(3), 289–304. https://doi.org/10.1080/09575146.2016.1181608

In this study conducted in Sweden, the authors looked at how Swedish preschool teachers talked online about how they used and could use digital play to support children’s literacy development. When the teachers discussed the use of tablets and digital play, their conversations mostly focused on ‘learning opportunities’ for children. Rarely mentioned was the idea of using digital play associated with free play or exploration by young children. There wasn’t consensus from the teachers on whether tablets should be used for free play to explore through play. This is interesting as it shows that the concept of digital play is new and needs further thinking about.

The findings of this study showed that teachers are still unsure about the affordances of technology for young children. It is important that pedagogical approaches to support children to engage with digital play encourage exploration, meaningful play and learning experiences.

Module link: The Digital Play Kangaroo Paw learning story highlights how seamlessly digital devices such as an iPad can be incorporated into learning and play as the children explore the plants in their natural environment.

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada-Rice, D., Bishop, J., & Scott , F. (2016). Digital play: a new classification. Early Years, 36(3), 242-253, DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2016.1167675

Most children in developed countries have a wider range of technologies to use than previous generations. This wider range of technologies are increasingly accessible to children and include smartphones, tablets and computers. The types of screens children are spending time on has also changed. Research has shown that children are spending less time on console games as they play games on other platforms such as social media platforms and platforms such as You Tube that have become increasingly popular (Marsh et al. 2015). However, that while digital technologies are increasingly part of childhood and family life, not all children are ‘digital natives’.

Children are communicating and collaborating when using digital technology. Research has also shown that these changes in play do not necessarily affect what types of play is possible, but that the nature of the play can be changed. Children’s play can move and draw upon both digital and non-digital materials and this is a significant change to play in a contemporary society. The expansion of tools for play opens up multiple possibilities for expanding children’s play. Marsh et al’s (2016) findings show that there is not an either or approach to digital play and that fluidity between contexts and materials is possible.

Module link: The Digital Play Kangaroo Paw learning story highlights how seamlessly an iPad can be incorporated into learning and play as the children explore the plants in their natural environment. Using the Digital Play 3C Questioning Framework, the educator integrates their internet searching in the “Connect” and “Contest” phases to support the children find, evaluate and make judgements about the information to why the Kangaroo Paw has turned brown.

Theobald, M., Danby, S., Davidson, C., Houen, S., Scriven, B., & Thorpe, K. (2016). How talk and interaction unfold in a digitally enabled preschool classroom. Australian Journal of Linguistics36(2), pp. 189-204. 

The use of mobile devices such as laptops and tablets has become more prevalent in classrooms. This article examines the social interactions that occur between teachers and peers as they engage with digital devices. The institutional norms of the classroom where turn by turn talk and interactions occurred was evident as the teacher voiced an action and the respondent (child) attended to the action. Social organisation was highly noticeable as the embodied actions of the teacher provided clues for whose turn it was next, making access to devices contingent on the teacher. These interactions between teacher and student allowed the students to organise themselves in a way that avoided grievances over whose turn it may be next.

Module link: This study provides evidence of the ways participation, language use and teacher-student interactions around devices is actioned. The Digital Play module emphasises the importance of conversations between children and more capable adults. The module explains how interactions with children over digital technology supports children to develop critically reflective and evaluative mindsets.

Bird, J., & Edwards, S. (2015). Children learning to use technologies through play. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(6), 1149-1160. doi:10.1111/bjet.12191

Digital play is important for early childhood educators to understand and engage with as it assists us to understand technology in the early years and the possibilities that it affords. What is important to note is that the concept of digital play is a recent phenomenon and contested as researchers try to understand how children learn to use technologies through play. Bird and Edwards (2014) make a contribution in this area through an assessment tool that provides a framework that aims to assist early childhood educators to understand how children learn to use technologies through play based experiences.

Module link: Children’s engagement with digital technologies requires them to problem solve and make judgements about what is true and useful. This process is referred to throughout the Digital Play module as “Relational Information Literacy”. The Digital Play 3C Questioning Framework provides a set of prompts that help educators support children to develop critical thinking capacities when interacting with information in digital play.

Edwards, S. (2013). Digital play in the early years: a contextual response to the problem of integrating technologies and play-based pedagogies in the early childhood curriculum. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(2), 199-212, DOI: 10.1080/1350293X.2013.789190

Edwards argues that contemporary culture provides rich and varied opportunities for children’s play. She argues that to hold traditional play as a ‘higher’ form of play is not consistent with a contemporary approach. Play in the digital age is ‘converged’ meaning that children are immersed in popular cultural artefacts and texts, digital media and these can support and impact forms of play, such as imaginative play. Edwards has led work on rethinking our view of play to expand its definition to encompass and capture children’s lives in a digital world.

Rather than highlighting a dichotomy between play and technology in early children, Edwards’s research encourages early childhood teachers to reflect on how digital play can support meaning making through play experiences.

Module Link: The Digital Play Kangaroo Paw learning story highlights how seamlessly digital devices such as an iPad can be incorporated into learning and play as the children explore the plants in their natural environment.

Verenikina, I., & Kervin, L. (2011). iPads, digital play and pre-schoolers. He Kupu. 2(5), 4-19.

This paper reports on data collected on three interrelated case studies of families with one or more children at pre-school. Data collection included observations of children using technology and interviews with parents on their perspectives of using digital technology. The findings showed that families invested time in setting up parameters around apps and were comfortable allowing children to independently explore digital devices during their play. As children explored more complex apps there was often a need for technical support from older siblings or parents. These social interactions presented opportunities for communication, collaboration and shared problem solving to occur.

Module link: The Digital Play module emphasises the importance of conversations between children and more capable adults. The module explains how interactions with children over digital technology supports children to develop critically reflective and evaluative mindsets.

Plowman, L., Stephen, C., & McPake, J. (2010). Growing up with technology: young children learning in a digital world. London: Routledge. https://doi-org.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/10.4324/9780203863619

The concept of digital play has emerged due to children’s increasing engagement with digital tools. Digital play is difficult to define but it has been written about as the range of activities children undertake with technologies (Marsh, 2010; Stephen and Plowman, 2014), how children use technologies in a play-based way (Verenikina and Kervin, 2011) and has also been discussed as the emergence of a new contemporary form of play that involves children in contemporary digitally mediated contexts (Bergen, 2012; Edwards, 2013).

Play experiences using digital tools might differ to traditional play experiences as children integrate technology and media experiences into their play. The context and interactions that support digital play help children learn about and make meaning of their worlds. As play reflects evolving social situations, children integrate digital and non-digital tools from their worlds into their play.

Module link: The Digital Play module promotes exploration and meaning making in digital contexts. In the Digital Play Kangaroo Paw learning story, the educator provides opportunities for children to explore a diverse range of technology, including iPads, TV’s and digital cameras, as they explore their natural environment and play.

Spink, A.H., Danby, S. J., Mallan, K. M. & Butler, C. (2010). Exploring young children’s web searching and technoliteracy.Journal of Documentation, 66(2). Pp.191- 206.https://doi.org/10.1108/00220411011023616

With many children in developing countries born into a world of digital technology and the internet, it is important to understand how children are using these resources within their context. This study conducted with 12 children in a prep classroom explored the techno literacy of young children and the use of Google web searching. The study indicated that young children were competent in the use of digital technology and were easily able to manoeuvre and find their way around the devices without assistance. Complex web searches were conducted by the children and demonstrated children have more advanced behaviours than previously thought. This research is important as it demonstrates the need for children to then make relevant decisions about the information they are presented with.

Module link: The Digital Play module explicates the processes of relational information literacy to support children’s practices of finding, evaluating and applying information across contexts using the 3C Questioning Framework: Connect, Contest, Create.