|dc.description.abstract||Children’s activities with tablet computers in Swedish preschool settings
This thesis contributes, on the basis of original empirical research, to an on going discussion about the use of tablet computers in Swedish preschools. The aim of the study is to examine what kind of activities evolve, how the children and teachers participate in these activities, and what kind of learning is made possible with the use of tablet computers. Because of the fact that this is a fairly new digital tool that recently has begun to be used widely in the Swedish educational system, there is a pressing need to provide knowledge of what the digital tool is used for in a Swedish preschool context. Generally, discussions regarding new technologies concern their alleged effect on children’s learning (Selwyn, 2009, 2012). The point of departure for this study is to investigate empirically how the technology is used, and critically discuss what conditions for learning are created.
The theoretical framework is based on sociocultural theory. Founded on the work of Russian developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky, and later theorists, such as Alexander Luria, James Wertsch and Roger Säljö, tablet computers are understood as a cultural tool used for making meaning in a specific cultural context. The concept of mediation is used to create an understanding of what kind of activities evolve when children use tablets in institutional environments.
Video observations have been made of 33 children (aged 1 to 5 years) from two separate classrooms, in one preschool. The study is conducted in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the Swedish Research Council, which includes all participation being voluntary and all participants having signed an informed consent to be part of the study. Interaction analysis (Jordan & Henderson, 1995) was used to analyse the empirical material.
The main conclusions drawn from the analysis are that many different types of activities evolved when the children used the tablets. Some of these were child initiated and allowed for possibilities for agency and exploration for the children. Others were planned by the teachers in advance with a clear learning objective and more strictly organized. An important finding with an interest in learning was that the children and teachers often were uncoordinated in perspective in both types of activities. While the teachers regarded the tablets and apps as didactical tools for learning, the children mainly engaged with technology as a tool for gaming. However, the teachers play an important role in scaffolding the children and in using different strategies to facilitate the children’s appropriation of both technology and important cultural concepts and distinctions. It is also evident that the, so-called, educational apps to a large extent fail to live up to their name. The study has significance for an informed discussion about the use of tablets in early childhood settings – including the role of the teacher in technology-mediated activities.
KEYWORDS: tablet computers, preschool, digital tools, sociocultural theory, educational apps||sv