Digital Technologies and Learning in the Early Years


Edited by: Lorna Arnott

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    For Heather Arnott and Rebecca Arnott.

    My daughters, my inspiration.

    Editor and Contributor Biographies

    The Editor

    Lorna Arnott is a Lecturer in the School of Education, University of Strathclyde. Lorna’s main area of interest is in children’s early experiences with technologies, particularly in relation to social and creative play. She also has a keen interest in research methodologies, with a specialist focus on consulting with children. At the University of Strathclyde, Lorna teaches on the BA (Hons) Childhood Practice, The Early Years Pedagogue as part of the modular Master’s of Education, BA (Hons) Education and the PGDE course. Lorna is the convener for the Digital Childhoods Special Interest Group as part of the European Early Childhood Educational Research Association and is the Editorial Assistant for the International Journal of Early Years Education.

    The Contributors

    Jo Bird is Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of New England, Armidale, Australia. She is about to submit her PhD at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia on children’s use of technologies in their imaginative play and educators’ influence on their provision of these devices. Jo was an educator in early childhood settings for over 15 years prior to becoming a teacher educator. Her research interests include children’s play, learning and the use of technologies in early childhood education. She is currently serving as the Associate Editor (Early Years) for the Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria Journal.

    Susan Danby is Professor in the School of Early Childhood at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia. Her research investigates children and young people’s everyday social and interactional practices, across a range of contexts, including preschool and school, family, helplines and clinical settings. Her recent research investigates how young children integrate digital technologies into the flow of everyday family and school lives. She has a co-edited book on children’s disputes (2012), and she is on the editorial boards of Children and Society, Linguistics and Education, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy and Research on Children and Social Interaction.

    Pauline Duncan is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh. She is currently teaching on the departmental course on Developmental Psychology and working on two projects relating to young children and technology: ‘Children and the Internet of Things’ and ‘Digital Technologies for Infants (0–3): Understanding Interaction with iPads in the Home’.

    Marilyn Fleer is Professor and holds the Foundation Chair of Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University, Australia, and the immediate past President of the International Society for Cultural Activity Research (ISCAR). Her research interests focus on early years learning and development, with special attention on pedagogy, culture, science and technology. More recently she has investigated child development in the contexts of home and school. Key publications are: Early Learning and Development: Cultural-Historical Concepts in Play (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Play, Leaning and Children’s Development: Everyday Life in Families and Transition to School (with Mariane Hedegaard; Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Theorising Play in the Early Years (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Professor Fleer has been shortlisted for the Australian awards for Excellence in Educational Publishing and has received a commendation for outstanding postgraduate supervision from the Vice Chancellor of Monash University.

    Caja Gilbert is a Research Officer at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, and a PhD Candidate at The University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on the impact of new technologies on the news media industry. More specifically, on how they affect journalistic practice and news content in our contemporary society.

    Deirdre Grogan is Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, University of Strathclyde, with research interests in creativity and early years education. She is responsible for the Early Years module (Bachelor of Education), where students participate in a nursery placement, and is also involved in early years knowledge exchange courses with various local authorities.

    Kate Highfield is a Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education at Charles Sturt University, Australia. Kate has extensive experience working with student teachers, children and educators in the fields of technology, as well as over 10 years’ experience teaching in classrooms. Her PhD research focused on the use of simple robotics in mathematics learning and examined the key role of metacognition in problem solving. Her current research explores the use of interactive technologies for STEM learning and play, with a focus on how mobile and touch technology can be used as a tool to enhance learning. Kate is the editor of Live Wires, a publication for Early Childhood Australia.

    Kelly Johnston is a Lecturer and PhD candidate at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Kelly has extensive experience working in diverse early learning services and context across Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Her current teaching role is with student teachers at both undergraduate and postgraduate level on units relating to early childhood pedagogy, technology, theory and practice, and health and wellbeing. Her PhD research investigates educator conceptualisations of technology and practitioner enquiry as a professional learning model to support the integration of technology in early learning settings.

    Eleni Karagiannidou is researching and teaching in the area of child development, problem-based learning, digital technologies, as well as teachers’ and practitioners’ professional learning and identity. Currently, as part of a funded project, she is examining professional identity, beliefs and practices of early years educators and associated impact on young learners. In the area of digital technologies, she is looking at participation in online communities, and the replication of identities, behaviours and cultures between offline and online environments.

    Rachael Levy is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include young children’s perceptions of reading, home–school literacy discourses and multimodality. Rachael is also interested in the role of gender in literacy and the ways in which this connects with opportunity for all within the schooling system and beyond. She has a number of publications on these topics including her book Young Children Reading at Home and at School (Sage, 2011). She is currently leading a study within an ESRC collaborative project, to understand the barriers to shared reading in families.

    Jane O’Connor is a Reader in Childhood Studies at Birmingham City University where she leads the ‘Rethinking Childhood’ research cluster. Jane began her career as a primary school teacher and moved into academia after completing a PhD on cultural constructions of child stars in the media. Her research interests focus on young children’s use of media technology, ‘exceptional’ children and social constructions and representations of childhood. She has written and researched extensively on the topics of children and the media and child stardom and is currently leading an international study on the use of touchscreen technology by children under 3. Jane teaches on the doctoral programme at the university and supervises a range of PhD students.

    Nathalie Sinclair is Professor in the Faculty of Education, an associate member in the Department of Mathematics and a Canada Research Chair in Tangible Mathematics Learning at Simon Fraser University. She is also an Associate Editor of Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education. She is the author of Mathematics and Beauty: Aesthetic Approaches to Teaching Children (Teachers College Press, 2006) and co-author of Mathematics and the Body: Material Entanglements in the Classroom (Cambridge University Press, 2014), among other books. Her research interests include the role of digital technology in the teaching and learning of mathematics, the changing ways in which the body is implicated in mathematical thinking and the aesthetic nature of mathematical enquiry.

    Nicola Yelland is a Research Professor and Director of Research in the College of Education at Victoria University in Melbourne Australia. Over the last decade her teaching and research has been related to the use of new technologies in school and community contexts. Some recent publications are Early Mathematical Explorations, Contemporary Perspectives on Early Childhood Education (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Rethinking Learning in Early Childhood Education (Oxford University Press, 2009). She is also the author of Shift to the Future: Rethinking Learning with New Technologies in Education (Routledge, 2006). Professor Yelland is the founding editor of two journals Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood and Global Studies of Childhood.


    As the contributors of the book have worked hard to ground their analysis and discussion in research evidence, this book could not have been completed without the help of the people who agreed to the research taking place in their settings. We would like to thank all educational settings, teachers, parents and children for their invaluable involvement.

    I would also like to thank all the chapter authors for their contributions. Without them, this book would not have happened. I would especially like to express my appreciation for their patience in their work going to print to accommodate my period of maternity leave.

    Many thanks must be extended to the great support offered by the Sage team: Jude Bowen and George Knowles. Similarly, their patience, flexibility, encouragement and support with the delay in this publication was overwhelming.

    Finally, as always, the support of my family and in particular my husband, Campbell Arnott, has been unfaltering. I am eternally grateful for all that he does.

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