‘Smart’ technologies in early years literacy education

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    • 00:01

      ['Smart' technologies in early years literacy education.]

    • 00:05

      JULIANNE LYNCH: Hello, I'm Julianne Lynch.[Dr. Julianne Lynch, Deakin University]

    • 00:07

      TERRI REDPATH: And I'm Terri Redpath.[Ms. Terri Redpath, Deakin University]

    • 00:08

      TERRI REDPATH: We're researchers and educatorsin the factory of arts and educationat Deakin University in Australia.[Tell us about your Journal of Early Childhood Literacyarticle "'Smart' technologies in early years literacyeducation," and what motivated you to write it?]

    • 00:22

      JULIANNE LYNCH: Well, this articlefocuses on mobile touch screen technologies in the early yearsclassroom.This is a topic of interest because mobile touchscreendevices are increasingly found in early years classroomsas a tool for use by young children.And in the powered world where welive in the state of Victoria in Australia,primary schools and families are taking these devicesup very quickly, with many schools now

    • 00:44

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: moving to one to one programs, or to bring your own deviceprograms.We were particularly interested in pursuing this topicbecause in many respects, mobile touchscreen devices are seenas a game changer in the teachingand learning of young children.They potentially change children's level of accessto information, their capacity to create and disseminateknowledge, and their connections to other worlds.

    • 01:08

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: And they're posed by the challenges and opportunitiesto what is seen as the traditional domains, materials,and tools of literacy education.We were also interested in pursuing this topicbecause the use of digital screen-based technologiesis a contentious area in the community.It links to popular discourses around childappropriate materials, child development,

    • 01:28

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: and health and safety.And it's an area rife with myths and fears.The particular focus of our articleis the tensions experienced by the early years teacheras she works in the contested area of early years literacyeducation.We were motivated to write the articleto highlight the complexities of teacher practice in this space,

    • 01:48

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: and because our observations at the study sitesuggested a hopeful story of a young teacher pushing upagainst institutionalized notions and practices.[What was the aim of the research project?]

    • 02:02

      TERRI REDPATH: Well, the overall aim of the projectwas to work with the teacher and studentsto document what was going on.In 2010 we were invited by the principal of the school,because of the introduction of iPads,because this was a new thing for them,and it was a new phenomenon in general.The iPad version one was released in Australia

    • 02:27

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: in April of that year.Now, both the principal and the teacherrecognized the value of having a couple of researchers floatingabout to dialogue with, and to providethe teacher with feedback on what was going on.We designed an ethnographic studythat took a relatively open ended approachto inquiry, with the intention of documenting a curriculum

    • 02:50

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: innovation at one side, rather than assessingthe practice against existing frameworks or hypotheses.This involved an engagement with the siteover an extended period of time, and a focus on meaningsconstructed through participants' talk,and other representations.

    • 03:11

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: With the introduction of the iPads into the classroom,we were particularly interested in questionssuch as what had changed for whom, and why, and how,and what didn't change, and how did these resourcesinteract with established resources and practices.[What was your approach to data collection and analysis?]

    • 03:33

      JULIANNE LYNCH: Well, our data collectionincluded classroom observations, whichwe recorded both with video, and had written notes,video recorded interviews with children, includingprompted interactions with the iPads,and with other literacy materials, for example.

    • 03:54

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: The collection of student generated artifacts, so thingslike movies and drawings.And also audio recorded interviewswith the classroom teacher and the principal.For the article we took an interpretive narrativeanalysis.We wanted to relay an account that raised issues and prompted

    • 04:14

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: questions, and we attempted to do this reflexively,reflecting on our own positioning,and why we, writing from this place,would write this particular account.This is an important methodological point for us.[INAUDIBLE], in a 2009 chapter on researchand professional practice, notes that the rigoris in the writing.

    • 04:35

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: So the way we present our observations and ideas isas important to us as the methodswe use to create and analyze the data.In relation to the narrative analysisand the narrative presented and discussed in the article,Leah Fowler's work on narrative researchwas also useful, particular her point of being harried.

    • 04:56

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: That is, it's the trouble on the road thatpoints to the significance of the story.So the presentation in our analysis in the articleis in three parts that comprise a larger narrative structure.First we make observations about the dominant attitudesand practices that were evident in the observation interviewdata collected in the early part of the project.

    • 05:18

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: Then we look closely at the teacher interview dataand identify tensions between the teacher's visionfor teaching and learning with the iPads, and the classroomobservation data.And in the final part, we provide an accountof a learning activity that moves awayfrom traditional practices, and that in many waysrealizes the teacher's vision.And as we do this, we pay particular attention

    • 05:39

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: to areas of tension, inconsistency,and other trouble.[What are the key arguments and conclusions madein the article?]

    • 05:48

      TERRI REDPATH: Well, the article isa story of innovation in a broader context of curriculumconservatism.Our first argument is one that draws upon existing literatureto name this conservatism.It's a story of a first year art teacher who'snavigating a path between her innovative vision for classroom

    • 06:09

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: teaching and learning, and the push of commercial content,and the conservatism that's evident in the broader context.And within this story, we make a number of arguments.First, an iPad is not just a material tool.It emerges as a socio-technical entity

    • 06:30

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: with multiple identities.Like any tool, it can be used in the service of a whole rangeof agendas, even within a highly specifiedfield, such as early literacy education.And these tools can, and often do behave in unexpected ways.

    • 06:51

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: Our data evidences some of the potential emerges,and the politics in terms of how theyposition teachers and students.Second, we argue that in practice, popular distinctionsbetween teacher's role and print-based literaciesbreak down, and it makes no sense-- or little sense,anyway-- to maintain.

    • 07:11

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: School work, as with work in any other domain in our livesoutside of school, traverses and entanglesa variety of media, modes, and channels.The study positions of this type of workis engaging, affirming, and generative.We also argue that it's not easy for teachers

    • 07:34

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: to do this type of work in the current climate of compliance.But they do it all the same, so in a wayit's a story of the hero teacher.[Why do you think this paper was so highly read?]

    • 07:51

      JULIANNE LYNCH: Well, we can only speculate about this.There are a number of possible explanations,aside from it being an excellent piece of research and writing.

    • 07:60


    • 08:01

      JULIANNE LYNCH: First, there's the timing.The primary school in which this research was basedwas the first in its district, if not in its state,to provide access to iPads for students.So this paper appeared online in 2012amongst the first publications thatdocumented practices and issues in relationto this new type of device that has now

    • 08:22

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: become so popular in schools and homes for use by children.Second, young people's use of digital technologiesis contentious, and in popular discourseis often fuel for a moral panic around the loss of allthe discord, and this attracts interest.Third, the paper offers a detailed case

    • 08:42

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: with numerous levels of context and complexity.There are no simple findings, and there is no recipe.There is no best practice.Literacy teaching a highly scrutinized, hotly contestedprofessional field, and this paperdemonstrates that, and raises a lot of issues for discussion.Finally, it is a hopeful story.

    • 09:03

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: Early years literacy teachers in Australiaand elsewhere are regularly subjects to teacherbashing in the media, as well as to the negative implicationsof hype about crises in literacy education.

    • 09:15

      TERRI REDPATH: The story told in this paperis one of a dedicated and professional teacher,yes, of a regular, every day type,who pursues student-centered approaches to technologyin teaching and learning, despite pressuresto comply with institutionalized practicesof privileged, traditional [INAUDIBLE] literacies,and position young people as not yet literate enough

    • 09:39

      TERRI REDPATH [continued]: to participate in society.

    • 09:41

      JULIANNE LYNCH: This is somethingwe feel passionate about.We've received quite a bit of personal correspondencein relation to the paper since it first appeared online,and readers have noted an appreciationfor the level of reflexivity incorporatedinto the paper, where we come clean about our biasesand agendas, and our motivations and purposesbehind writing the paper.

    • 10:02

      JULIANNE LYNCH [continued]: Challenging ill-informed, negative views,and affirming teacher practice is a bit partof our motivation, and I think this hasstruck a chord with readers.

‘Smart’ technologies in early years literacy education

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Professors Julianne Lynch and Terri Redpath discuss their article published in the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy entitled "Smart Technologies in Early Years Literacy Education".

‘Smart’ technologies in early years literacy education

Professors Julianne Lynch and Terri Redpath discuss their article published in the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy entitled "Smart Technologies in Early Years Literacy Education".

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