Multimodal Childhoods (pilot) Project: Emerging literacies and digital technologies for achievement in remote communities
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In recent years, an increasing body of research has focused on the impact of new and emerging digital technologies on children’s play in early childhood education. To date, much of this work has been conducted in locations that could be described as urban. Some of these studies have focused on the increasing amount of time that children spend in ‘virtual’ rather than ‘real’ worlds (Edwards 2013; Marsh 2017), others have established that, from an increasingly young age, children are using and interacting with a broad range of digital technologies. This has resulted in the understanding that many young children come to preschool already experienced in using a variety of technologies including computers, gaming consoles, digital cameras and mobile telephones (Kengwe & Onchwari 2009). Many of these studies have also highlighted that digital technologies are simply not present in early childhood settings (Burnett & Daniels 2015; Yelland 2015; and Formby 2014), an issue that is often attributed to educator uncertainty about how best to use digital technologies in such settings (Plowman, McPake & Stephen 2010). Further, choices to use technology in early learning settings are negatively impacted by debates about the age appropriateness of using digital devices (Burnett & Daniels 2005; Flewitt, Messer & Kucirkova 2015). What is evident is that the growth in children’s use of, and access to digital technologies reflects the changing social realities of their lives in the home (Erstad & Sefton-Green 2015). The realities of children’s lives in remote contexts differ greatly from their urban counterparts (Halsey 2018). Studies have noted the presence of a digital divide that affects not only who has access to various digital technologies, but differences in the quality of the experiences that are available to children depending on the type of technology available (Kucirkova, Rowsell & Falloon 2019). Research confirms this is especially true of remotely living children in South Australia, where poverty and distance combine to impact on the quality of home technology and therefore children’s experiences of it.
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