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Title: Exploring the affordances of touchscreen technologies in early years settings in the West Midlands
Author: Ludgate, Shannon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 255X
Awarding Body: Birmingham City University
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 2018
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Touchscreen devices are now the most-used technological hardware by young children at home in England (Livingstone et al., 2015). Touchscreens are also gaining popularity in early years settings. However, there is currently no policy and very little guidance available to support early years practitioners in using touchscreens. Information is in its infancy on how touchscreens are used and how to maximise their potential to support young children's learning. Therefore, this study explores touchscreen practice in early years settings to identify affordances in how they are used by children and practitioners. Practitioner data was collected through an online survey and interviews. Observations of touchscreen use by children and practitioners were recorded and focus-group interviews were conducted with young children. Engeström's (1999a; 1999b) activity theory model was used as the tool for analysis to conceptualise touchscreen activity within four early years settings. Analysis of the data revealed that touchscreen activity was much more complex than children's or adults' general interactions with the devices, and therefore Bronfenbrenner's (1977) ecological systems model was also incorporated with the activity theory model to reflect the wider influences which guide or direct touchscreen play. The data revealed three main themes: Play, Authority, and Pedagogy. First, the study found that there were differences in touchscreen intentions by children and practitioners, with children viewing the touchscreen as a toy (play resource) and source of entertainment, whilst practitioners viewed the touchscreen as an educational tool. Second, the study found that there were authority struggles amongst children and their peers, and adults and children through the rules or manipulation of rules regarding touchscreen play. Third, pedagogical approaches reflected limitations in touchscreen potential through practitioner rules. However, there was evidence of practitioners supporting children's learning through scaffolding and guided interaction, yet these were not frequent occurrences. This research has produced strong conclusions regarding effective touchscreen practice and has the potential to be used to inform policy makers, practitioners and researchers to support enhanced touchscreen activity with young children. The research provides an insight into the challenges encountered when implementing touchscreens, or indeed any technology, within early years settings; as such, I emphasise the need for a greater awareness by policy makers of how they can best support early years practitioners in this area.
Supervisor: O'Connor, Jane ; Blackburn, Carolyn ; Fautley, Martin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: G400 Computer Science ; X900 Others in Education