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Title: “This is pretend. We are just playing.” Exploring young children’s imaginative play with, and educators’ provision of, digital technologies in play-based settings.
Contributor(s): Bird, Joanne  (author)orcid ; Sims, Margaret  (supervisor)orcid ; Charteris, Jennifer  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2018-08-14
Copyright Date: 2018-07-23
Open Access: Yes
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Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
130306 Educational Technology and Computing
130102 Early Childhood Education (excl Maori)
Field of Research (FoR) 2020: 390307 Teacher education and professional development of educators
390305 Professional education and training
390405 Educational technology and computing
390302 Early childhood education
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 930202 Teacher and Instructor Development
930201 Pedagogy
930203 Teaching and Instruction Technologies
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 160303 Teacher and instructor development
160302 Pedagogy
160304 Teaching and instruction technologies
Abstract: Digital technologies have become commonplace in nearly all areas of the modern life in Western society. Mobile phone users now have the ability to watch movies, surf the internet and perform all the functionalities of a computer on increasingly smaller devices. Children are capable of not only taking photos and movies, but they can successfully upload them to social media. They now have an online presence from a very early age, sometimes even before they are born. What does this mean for early childhood educational settings, where play is valued as the way children learn? Children are arriving at these services with a wide range of prior experiences including more technical knowledge than ever before, and sometimes, more than their educators.
The early childhood field began by debating the appropriateness of using technologies with young children, but current literature has moved on to now focus on exploring their engagement with technologies, and on the positive benefits of building children’s knowledge of technologies, prior to formal schooling. What is not clearly defined is how children engage with these devices when they are provided in play-based, learning settings. Educators often struggle to integrate these technologies into their play-based pedagogies, and to support children’s meaning making when their play involves these devices. While some targeted professional development for educators aims to build their knowledge around how to provide technologies for young children, these efforts have not been very effective when integrating them into play-based pedagogy. What is needed is greater understanding of how to provide technologies in meaningful ways, and how to implement child-focused pedagogies incorporating technologies that support children’s play and learning.
This thesis aims to explore the integration between children’s imaginative play with digital technologies, and the influences on educators’ provision of these devices in play-based settings. The research was conducted in two kindergarten settings, in suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. The children were aged four to six years and were attending kindergarten in the year prior to school entry. An ethnographic study was conducted over a 12-week period, with data being collected via video recordings, photographs, observations, conversations with children, interviews with educators and a researcher journal. The first contribution to knowledge that this thesis makes is the introduction of the Imaginative Affordance Framework, which combines Vygotsky’s (1966) concepts of mediation and imagination with Gibson’s (1979) concept of affordance. The framework was used to analyse the data collected and establish the findings related to the children’s imaginative play with digital technologies and to understand the educators’ provision of these devices.
The findings were presented and discussed as six paradoxes: working technologies versus non-working technologies; solitary individuals working with devices versus groups of children on devices; play-based, child centred programmes versus adult controlled programmes; nature discourse versus technologies as not natural; traditional kindergarten activities versus newer technological activities; and, children learning to navigate the rules pertaining to working technologies versus their desire to play according to their own volition. Based on the findings three recommendations were presented. These related to the children, the educators and the wider community and policy makers.
The second contribution to knowledge filled the gap in current understanding, established in the literature review, around how children engage with digital technologies in their imaginative play, influenced by what and how the devices are provided by their educators. The reasons behind the educators’ provision are discussed and their position as neoliberal subjects is recognised and explored. A diagram of provision is presented and suggestions for professional learning to address the intervention points within the diagram are made. The thesis concludes with recommendations of potential research that would further extend the knowledge base of this topic.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Appears in Collections:School of Education
Thesis Doctoral

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