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Digital play in preschools: understandings from educational use and professional learning
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3856-1519
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Digital lek i förskolan : erfarenheter från pedagogisk användning och professionellt lärande (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to improve knowledge on preschool teachers’ educational use of digital play and their professional learning about it. The thesis is focused on three questions; How can preschool teacher educational use of digital play be understood? How can the professional learning context of preschool teachers using digital play for educational purposes be understood? And, How can preschool teacher knowledge needs concerning educational use of digital play be understood?  The participants were preschool teachers who had started to introduce tablets and digital play in educational practice.  Netnography, Self-report essays, and Interviews were used as methods for data collection. The data consist of 465 posts from online forums, ten self-report essays and eleven interviews with preschool teachers. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was used as a method for data analysis. The theoretical framework ‘Learning in Working Life (Illeris, 2007), which examines the constituent parts of workers’ professional learning context, was used to make sense of, and interpret the findings towards a synthesis and a deeper understanding of the informants’ stated experiences from educational use of digital play and from professionally learning about it. 

The results show that the participants’ incentives for using digital play were linked to a user-friendly technology and to the perceived opportunities to support children’s life-focused and school-focused learning. Moreover, the children’s learning environment was perceived to be enhanced by digital play, as it enabled opportunities for variation, individual adaptation and innovation in the educational practice. The participants envisioned digital play in preschools to be: different from children’s home use, purposeful, embedded in educational practice, secure, primarily collaborative and preferably used with teacher presence. Their professional learning context included reluctance from colleagues and guardians and limited time and opportunities to learn about digital play at work. In this situation, technology, like opportunities for knowledge exchange via Internet forums, became an enabler of professional learning. Some participants also explored digital play together with the children, to overcome the shortcomings of the professional learning context. The participants needed knowledge about topics in social discourse, technology and educational use of digital play. Dealing with children’s access to tablets and how to enhance children’s agency in digital play were issues that many participants worked to improve. Sometimes the envisioned educational use of digital play conflicted which the participants’ experiences from the professional learning context, which can be interpreted as instances when the participants experienced the introduction of digital play as challenging.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2020. , p. 118
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 91
Keywords [en]
digital play, preschool, digitalisation, tablets, professional learning, professional development, early years, digital competence, literacy, workplace learning, preschool teachers, early childhood education, technology integration
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-168864ISBN: 978-91-7855-237-5 (electronic)ISBN: 978-91-7855-236-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-168864DiVA, id: diva2:1414159
Public defence
2020-04-07, Aula Anatomica, Biologihuset, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Digitalt ISBN saknas i publikationen.

Available from: 2020-03-17 Created: 2020-03-12 Last updated: 2020-03-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Preschool teachers' informal online professional development in relation to educational use of tablets in Swedish preschools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Preschool teachers' informal online professional development in relation to educational use of tablets in Swedish preschools
2015 (English)In: Professional Development in Education, ISSN 1941-5257, E-ISSN 1941-5265, Vol. 41, no 2, p. 236-253Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper focuses on preschool teachers' use of online social networks for discussions about tablets in preschools. Posts initiating discussions ( n = 465) were analysed to increase understanding of what questions tablets raise among preschool teachers and to understand online communication from a professional development perspective. Posts were analysed using thematic analysis in combination with the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework, which illustrates what kind of knowledge teachers need in order to teach efficiently with technology. The results indicate that traditional means of professional development are frequently discussed but that the newness of tablets in preschools makes it difficult for preschool teachers to find support in research, training and literature. Thus, communication can partly be described as collegial support. Questions often aim at urgent and specific forms of desired knowledge, possibly challenging to address by acts of reading literature, attending courses or lectures. Furthermore, market interests become visible, as providers of services and products promote lectures, books, websites and applications. As rapidly changing technologies enter the preschool practice, it seems that preschool teachers will increasingly be dependent on more direct and flexible forms of professional development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2015
Keywords
Kindergarten, Early Years, Tablet, Social Network, Educational Technology
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-122612 (URN)10.1080/19415257.2014.999380 (DOI)000212402600007 ()
Available from: 2016-06-20 Created: 2016-06-20 Last updated: 2020-03-12Bibliographically approved
2. Digital play as a means to develop children’s literacy and power in the Swedish preschool
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Digital play as a means to develop children’s literacy and power in the Swedish preschool
2016 (English)In: Early years, ISSN 0957-5146, E-ISSN 1472-4421, Vol. 36, no 3, p. 289-304Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper presents different angles on the subject of digital play as a means to develop children’s literacy and power, using an online ethnographical study of Swedish preschool teachers’ discussions in informal online forums. Question posts (n = 239) were analysed using the Technological Pedagogical Knowledge framework and the Caring, Nurturing and Teaching framework, with the aim of understanding how teachers intended to support children’s literacy development with tablets. Literacy development can be understood as a social practice that needs to develop along with changes in society’s demands on citizens. The results presented indicate that school subject oriented skills are predominantly present in the mind-set of these preschool teachers. When digital play is increasingly used for pedagogical purposes in preschools, that also means that preschools have expanded their opportunities to work with children’s literacy development. For preschool teachers, it is important to discuss how literacy development can be supported in a contemporary media landscape.

Keywords
Tablets, preschool, literacy, digital literacy, power
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-122611 (URN)10.1080/09575146.2016.1181608 (DOI)000382992600006 ()
Available from: 2016-06-20 Created: 2016-06-20 Last updated: 2020-03-12Bibliographically approved
3. Swedish preschool teachers' perceptions about digital play in a workplace-learning context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish preschool teachers' perceptions about digital play in a workplace-learning context
2019 (English)In: Early years, ISSN 0957-5146, E-ISSN 1472-4421Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This study investigates preschool teachers' perceptions about the pedagogical use of digital play and, by using the Learning in Working Life framework as a theoretical point of departure, it also investigates how these perceptions are connected to the teachers' professional learning environment. Participants wrote a self-report essay about digital play. Results show that the participants identified opportunities with digital play on a societal, content, workplace practice and social-cultural level of the workplace-learning context. Challenges were identified on a social-cultural, technical-organisational and content level. The conclusion is when introducing digital play into preschools, the challenges include too little time and reluctant parents and colleagues. The opportunities can be summed up as helping to prepare children for the future and enriching their upbringing and learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2019
Keywords
Digitalisation, professional learning, professional development, preschool, digital play
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-163670 (URN)10.1080/09575146.2019.1658065 (DOI)000482847900001 ()
Available from: 2019-10-21 Created: 2019-10-21 Last updated: 2020-03-12
4. Swedish preschool teachers’ experiences from pedagogical use of digital play
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish preschool teachers’ experiences from pedagogical use of digital play
2020 (English)In: Journal of Early Childhood Education Research, ISSN 2323-7414, Vol. 9, no 1, p. 171-193Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reports on findings from an interview study with eleven Swedish preschool teachers. The purpose was to increase the knowledge about preschool teachers’ experiences from pedagogical use of digital play. The participants were preschool teachers who used digital play in their practice, and their narratives were analysed using an inductive approach to thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The results showed that the use of digital play provided more opportunities in children’s creative work, better pedagogical documentation, access to the Internet as a source of information, access to more pedagogical material and opportunities to create new pedagogical activities. Two main teaching objectives were identified in the participants’ statements, to prepare children for school and for life in a digitised society. The participants wanted to increase children’s access to tablets and increase children’s agency in their digital play activities. Furthermore, they wanted to increase their pedagogical knowledge about digital play and they wanted to be in control over the digital play activities that they introduced in their practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Early Childhood Education Association Finland, 2020
Keywords
preschool, digitalisation, workplace practice, tablets, digital play
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-168356 (URN)
Available from: 2020-02-20 Created: 2020-02-20 Last updated: 2020-03-12Bibliographically approved

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