16 SES 13 B, ICT in Early Childhood Education
Intercultural communication includes a complexity of processes and structures of inclusion and exclusion – that may be considered and described at several levels and in different dimensions. In this paper, we focus on how preschool teachers design digital learning environments and situations to enhance and challenge preschool children’s communicative development. The design becomes a venue for intercultural interplay between inclusion and exclusion – of participation and absence.
This paper presents two Nordic studies of preschool teacher’s design and orchestration of digital learning environments and learning situations. The Swedish study focuses on how teachers view film sequences taken in their preschools and how they through reflections on teaching methodology change approaches and activities in preschool. The Norwegian study focuses on the interaction between educators and children when they create multimodal stories together.
Of interest in both studies is how teachers create the conditions for learning, meaning making and achievement when digital technology is included in educational practice. A child’s perception of meaning making in a digital learning landscape is influenced by how educators relate to digital tools and how they use digital technology. In environments where educators are not used to using or motivated to use digital tools, children’s opportunities for the development of knowledge and digital skills are limited (Forsling, 2017; Ljung-Djärf, 2004; Klerfelt, 2007). Integration of digital technology in preschool should be rooted in concrete and situated forms of practice and reflected in close interaction with the other educational work at preschool (Letnes, 2017).
The joint research question of the two studies is:
How do educators in preschool create the conditions for learning, meaning making and achievement when digital technology is incorporated into educational practice?
The Swedish study "DigiFörLär" examines how preschool teachers understand and improve literacy-developing learning situations where digital tools are used under the guidance of a media educator, another preschool teacher acting as co-researcher and a researcher. One objective of the study is to analyze the preschool’s ability to contribute to the early development of young children's communicative competences in a digital learning landscape. Another goal is to strengthen practice-orientated research based on preschool needs with a focus on collegial learning.
The Norwegian study "Digital Education in Preschool" examines what happens when preschool children and educators together create multimodal media products and how this facilitates interactive and meaningful processes in the educational practice. A goal of the study has been to provide knowledge about how preschool teachers can facilitate children’s digital bildung by describing, analyzing and discussing children’s and educators interaction and perception when multimodal media products are created through child-child, child-teacher, and child-teacher-digital technology cooperation.
The two studies are based on design-oriented perspectives with a multimodal focus. Based on these approaches, learning and meaning making may be seen as an interpretive approach to understanding phenomena in the society. Learning and meaning making are built on social interaction, and creative actions through which actors re-design existing representations (Kress, 2003, 2010; Selander, 2009). The multimodal focus of the studies may be considered from an object perspective with the artifacts in focus and as analysis of semiotics in situated practices.
Design-based research The overarching research methodology and design for this research projects draws on approaches and strategies from design-based research where qualitative methods are used for collecting data to shed light on the investigated subject. As a concept, design-based research originates from design experiments, formative research, development research, and design research (Akker, 1999; Akker, Gravemeijer, McKenney, & Nieveen, 2006; Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992; McKenney & Reeves, 2014; Newman, 1990; Røkenes, 2016). Design-based research can be broadly defined as “a series of approaches, with the intent of producing new theories, artifacts, and practices that account for and potentially impact learning and teaching in a naturalistic setting” (Barab & Squire, 2004, p. 2). Design-based research establishes direct links between research and practice, thus enhancing the chances that study findings will have an impact in educational research. In this research project, the approach was adapted both from formative approaches and design-based experiments. DigiFörLär During the course of three months in autumn 2017, fourteen learning situations incorporating digital tablets were studied in two Swedish preschools. The study focused on four preschool teachers and their two groups – in total 25 children aged four and five. A co-researcher (a preschool teacher) and a media educator participated as well. The study was drafted as a design-based experiment, in which the researcher, together with the co-researcher and the four preschool teachers, developed learning situations in which digital tools were used for learning. The material consists of reflective dialogues with the preschool teachers, co-researcher and media educator, as well as video recordings, photographs and field notes from observations in preschool environments. Digital education (bildung) in preschool In this project, qualitative, interpretive research methods have been used. The study has been conducted as a formative research study taking an ethnographic approach to the generation of the empirical material. One preschool with 13 selected children and its pedagogical staff participated in the study. The participants’ meaning making in working with multimodal media products in three pedagogical projects forms the basis for the generation of the empirical material. The collection methods used are field notes, video observation, reflective dialogues and children’s multimodal media products. For the analysis of both studies we used TPAC, the technological pedagogical content knowledge (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). TPAC is based on three main areas: technological competence, pedagogical skills and subject knowledge. At the intersection of these main areas, technological-pedagogical expertise emerges.
DigiFörLär An important part in the study was the follow-up reflection sessions connected with the display of film sequences from learning situations in the preschool activities. The teachers expressed their surprise at the discrepancy between what they had experienced live and what they saw on the film sequences. The real-time experience of being inadequate, inattentive, not sufficiently structured or informative was contradicted in the film sequences. Collegial learning became an important factor in the reflective dialogues. The results show that design and orchestration of learning situations led to the increased digital competence of both children and teachers. The teachers discussed their greater understanding on including digital technology in every-day preschool activities. The teachers’ approached a technological-pedagogical expertise while using technology consciously and nuancedly in preschool education practices, which is the core of the TPAC model. "Digital Education in Preschool" The arts with art pedagogy is a key entrance point to the use of technology in educational practice, as it involves both perception and production of media products and therefor has an educational potential for children's meaning making and use of digital technology. The children in the research project gained experience with digital technology as a natural part of the creative and editing process through creating media products. By emphasizing art pedagogy and its focus on aesthetic experiences, a pedagogical practice can develop in which different layers of experience related to technology as a tool can develop, rather than technology use being a goal in itself. Finally, I want to highlight the importance of the presence of the teacher in children’s interaction with digital technology. When children and teachers create cultural expressions a space for reflection and meaning making related to the form, content, technique and technology is formed.
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