Embedding educational technologies in early years education

Keywords: early years education, educational technology, ICT, practitioner attitudes, rationales


This survey of 335 practitioners builds on research which challenged the view that educational technologies are rarely used in early years settings. Previous research tends to focus on individual devices. This research looks at the range of devices being used and, instead of investigating how often they are used, considers how they support pedagogical practice. Findings support the view that early years practitioners are accessing a wider range of technologies and that these technologies are being used in more pedagogically appropriate ways than has previously been reported. Educational technologies appear to be increasingly embedded within early years education. Overall, attitudes towards educational technology are positive. Beliefs, however, are more likely to be linked to the social rationale, that children need access to technology because they are surrounded by it in everyday life, than the pedagogical rationale, that technology enhances learning. It may be necessary to review documentation to ensure that policy and practice focus more specifically on learning and teaching.



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Christine Jack, Durham University

Christine Jack is a doctoral student at the School of Education, Durham University Her research interests include the use of educational technologies in early years education.

Steve Higgins, Durham University

Steve Higgins is a professor at the School of Education, Durham University. His research interests include the area of effective use of information and communications technology (ICT) and digital technologies for learning in schools.


Aldhafeeri, F., Palaiologou, I. & Folorunsho, A. (2016) ‘Integration of digital technologies into play-based pedagogy in Kuwaiti early childhood education: teachers’ views, attitudes and aptitudes’, International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 342–360. doi: 10.1080/09669760.2016.1172477.

Blackwell, C., et al., (2013) ‘Adoption and use of technology in early education: the interplay of extrinsic barriers and teacher attitudes’, Computers & Education, vol. 69, pp. 310–319. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.024.

Blackwell, C., et al., (2015) Technology in the Lives of Educators and Early Childhood Programs: Trends in Access, Use, and Professional Development from 2012 to 2014, [online] Available at: http://www.fredrogerscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Blackwell-Wartella-Lauricella-Robb-Tech-in-the-Lives-of-Educators-and-Early-Childhood-Programs.pdf

Blackwell, C., Lauricella, A. & Wartella, E. (2014) ‘Factors influencing digital technology use in early childhood education’, Computers & Education, vol. 77, no. 2014, pp. 82–90. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.04.013.

Department for Education. (2012) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage: Setting the Standards for Learning, Development and Care for Children from Birth to Five, Department for Education, Runcorn.

Department for Education. (2018a) Early Years Foundation Stage Profile 2018 Handbook [Pilot version], Department for Education.

Department for Education. (2018b) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage [Pilot version], Department for Education.

Ekici, F. Y. (2016) ‘Parents’ views on the use of technology in the early childhood period’, Journal of Education and Training Studies, vol. 4, no. 12, pp. 58–70. doi: 10.11114/jets.v4i12.1925.

Ertmer, P. A. (1999) ‘Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: strategies for technology integration’, Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 47–61. doi: 10.1007/BF02299597.

Ertmer, P. A. (2005) ‘Teacher pedagogical beliefs: the final frontier in our quest for technology integration?’, Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 25–39. doi: 10.1007/bf02504683.

Gov.uk. (2018) Types of School, [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/types-of-school

Hawkridge, D. (1990) ‘Who needs computers in schools, and why?’, Computers & Education, vol. 15, no. 1–3, pp. 1–6. doi: 10.1016/0360-(90)90121-M.

Higgins, S., Xiao, Z. & Katsipataki, M. (2012) The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation, Durham, [online] Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d26b/b59f2536107b57f242b8289b1eb6f51d8765.pdf

Hockly, N. (2012) ‘Mobile learning’, Elt Journal, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 80–84. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccs064.

Jack, C. (2019). Enhancing the use of Educational Technology in the Early Years. Paper presented at the Imagining Better Education Conference, July 6th and 7th 2018, Durham University.

Jack, C., & Higgins, S. (2018). What is educational technology and how is it being used to support teaching and learning in the early years? International Journal of Early Years Education, 1–16. doi:10.1080/09669760.2018.1504754

Kerckaert, S., Vanderlinde, R. & van Braak, J. (2015) ‘The role of ICT in early childhood education: scale development and research on ICT use and influencing factors’, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 183–199. doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2015.1016804.

Kim, K.-R. (2005) Teacher Beliefs and Practices Survey: Operationalizing the 1997 NAEYC Guidelines, [online], (PhD), Louisiana State University, Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233345756_Teacher_Beliefs

Ljung-Djärf, A., Åberg-Bengtsson, L. & Ottosson, T. (2005) ‘Ways of relating to computer use in pre-school activity’, International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 29–41. doi: 10.1080/09669760500048295.

McCarrick, K. & Li, X. (2007) ‘Buried treasure: the impact of computer use on young children’s social, cognitive, language development and motivation’, AACE Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 73–95.

Mertala, P. (2017) ‘Wag the dog – The nature and foundations of preschool educators’ positive ICT pedagogical beliefs’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 69, pp. 197–206. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.037.

Neumann, M. M. & Neumann, D. L. (2014) ‘Touch screen tablets and emergent literacy’, Early Childhood Education Journal, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 231–239. doi: 10.1007/s10643-013-0608-3.

Plowman, L. (2016) ‘Learning technology at home and preschool’, in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, eds N. Rushby & D. Surry, Wiley, Chichester, pp. 96–112.

Plowman, L. & McPake, J. (2013) ‘Seven myths about young children and technology’, Childhood Education, vol. 89, no. 1, pp. 27–33. doi: 10.1080/00094056.2013.757490.

Plowman, L. & Stephen, C. (2013) ‘Guided interaction: exploring how adults can support children's learning with technology in preschool settings’, Hong Kong Journal of Early Childhood, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 15–22. http://libdr1.ied.edu.hk/pubdata/img00/arch00/link/archive/1/instarh/3350_image_vol12_no1.pdf

Plowman, L. & Stephen, C. (2005) ‘Children, play, and computers in pre-school education’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 145–157. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2005.00449.x.

Plowman, L., Stephen, C. & McPake, J. (2008) ‘Supporting young children's learning with technology at home and in preschool’, Research Papers in Education, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 93–113. doi: 10.1080/02671520802584061.

Preradović, N. M., Lešin, G. & Boras, D. (2017) ‘The role and attitudes of kindergarten educators in ICT-supported early childhood education’, TEM Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 162–172. doi: 10.18421/TEM61-24.

Puentedura, R. R. (2006) Transformation, Technology, and Education, [online] Available at: http://hippasus.com/resources/tte

School Curriculum and Assessment Authority & Department for Education and Employment. (1996) Nursery Education: Desirable Outcomes for Children's Learning on Entering Compulsory Education, School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and Department for Education and Employment. Hayes (England).

Selwyn, N. (2016) ‘Minding our language: why education and technology is full of bullshit … and what might be done about it’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 437–443. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1012523.

Standards and Testing Agency. (2012) EYFS Profile Exemplification for the Level of Learning and Development Expected at the End of the EYFS: Understanding the World, Standards and Testing Agency, Coventry.

Standards and Testing Agency. (2017) Early Years Foundation Stage Profile 2018 Handbook, Standards and Testing Agency. London.

Stephen, C. (2014) ‘Young children thinking and learning with and about digital technologies’, in Routledge International Handbook of Young Children's Thinking and Understanding, eds S. Robson & S. Flannery Quinn, Routledge, London, pp. 345–353.

Tymms, P. (2012) ‘Questionnaires’, in Research Methods and Methodologies in Education, eds J. Arthur, M. Waring, R. Coe & L. V. Hedges, Sage, London, pp. 231–240.

Vaughan, M. & Beers, C. (2017) ‘Using an exploratory professional development initiative to introduce iPads in the early childhood education classroom’, Early Childhood Education Journal, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 321–331. doi: 10.1007/s10643-016-0772-3.

Voogt, J., et al., (2013) ‘Technological pedagogical content knowledge – A review of the literature’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 109–121. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00487.x.

Wang, F., et al., (2010) ‘Applying technology to inquiry-based learning in early childhood education’, Early Childhood Education Journal, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 381–389. doi: 10.1007/s10643-009-0364-6.

Wartella, E., et al., (2010) Technology in the Lives of Teachers and Classrooms: Survey of Classroom Teachers and Family Child Care Providers, Latrobe, PA, [online] Available at: http://cmhd.northwestern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/TechInTheLivesofTeachers-1.pdf

Wartella, E., et al., (2013) Technology in the Lives of Educators and Early Childhood Programs 2012 Survey of Early Childhood Educators, [online] Available at: http://www.fredrogerscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Technology-in-the-Lives-of-Educators-and-Early-Childhood-Programs.pdf

How to Cite
Jack, C., & Higgins, S. (2019). Embedding educational technologies in early years education. Research in Learning Technology, 27. https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v27.2033
Original Research Articles