Exploring digitalised media-play as a formative and cultivative practice in a Danish kindergarten setting

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General description on research questions, objectives and theoretical frameworkThrough an action research-inspired methodology this project seeks to explore the everyday pedagogical practices on digitalised media-play in a Danish kindergarten setting. Through in-depth analysis of the practices of a kindergarten situated in the small town of Bording, Denmark, we explore what both formative, cultivative and cultural learning aspects for children aged 3-6 may be extracted from media-pedagogical practices. This project takes its inspiration on the aspects of life formation through the traditional German philosophical idea of bildung (Ensslin & Goorimoorthee, 2018).The Danish take on childcare pedagogy for children aged 0-6, is undergoing perceptible changes due to the recent completion (July 2018) of the reform on the enhanced educational curriculum for day-care institutions. The recent reform emphasizes themes like children’s perspectives, learning environments, play, digitalisation and life formation and incites all Danish institutions to construct a pedagogical setting around these themes. In connection to the idea of cultivation and life formation, the educational curriculum emphasises that the pedagogical practices concerning these themes should be framed by whatever seems meaningful and challenging for the child, whilst also considering how the practices help the child in both grasping, navigating and acting in a global and digitalised world (The Ministry for Children, Education and Equality, 2016). In total the word digitalisation is found six times throughout the rather short text of the reform. In the parts concerning children’s learning it is emphasised, that children learn through exploring through their body and their senses, by experimenting with all sorts of materials and by making new discoveries themselves. Through this, learning by experimenting with digitalisation and digital media is mentioned in the same sentences as learning through nature and natural phenomena and learning about culture and sustainability. In creating a high-quality learning environment in Danish kindergartens, the reform highlights the presence of digital media, like iPads or programmable robots, as equally important as other structural parameters like the physical surroundings, staffing, the educational levels of the staff and the number of children in each institution. Furthermore, the reform underlines the importance of a didactical planned pedagogy that frames diversity and allows for a learning environment that develops the child’s ability in mastering and expressing oneself through the use of digital media in an independent, authentic and curious way (The Ministry for Children, Education and Equality, 2016). Through all this we learn how notions of self-cultivation, formation and cultural learning through media play and experimenting with digital media, be they iPads, coding toys or something else, are set to be an inevitable part of the everyday practice of any day-care institution in Denmark in the near future. For many children, young people and adults in western countries today, lots of time and devotion is put into playing with media and digital worlds like the ones found in video games. The time, thought and energy that people spend in these digital arenas can be viewed as passive and simply unchallenging or it can be viewed as learning, developing and sparking social transformation (Gee, 2013: 169). Through this project we seek to further explore this view and argue how aspects of life formation might as well happen simultaneously with the development of concrete skills by children investing time in media-play by for example practicing and perfecting videos game skills whilst negotiating taking turns playing, game rules etc. with their peers at the same time. Playing with media together as a group develop synchronized intelligences made up by individuals with each single individual representing only a small part of the community’s collective knowledge and acquaintance, which we claim spark social transformation, life formation and cultivation (Gee, 2013). MethodologyThrough our preliminary understandings, this project seeks to explore and achieve a deeper understanding of the possible formative and cultivative learning outcome happening through media-play practices in a Danish kindergarten situated in Bording, Denmark through action research-inspired cycles. Action research is defined as: “a participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory world view” (Reason & Bradbury, 2001: 1). This project draws academics, researchers and educated pedagogues together to participate in co-inquiry and co-creation. Through these co-creative processes, we seek develop a practical knowledge of how aspects of life formation and cultivation might come through and be grounded in the experience of pedagogues and children practicing digitalized media-play as an everyday activity in the Kindergarten. Action research has a focus on praxis – bringing theory and practice together through inquiry and reflection (O’Brien, 2001; Kemmis, 2009), and we see it as a main objective of the project to also give voice to the pedagogues undertaking media-pedagogy and media-didactics as a part of their everyday work life (Stuart el. al. 2019).Expected outcomesThe current and future demand of digitalised media-play in kindergartens and similar pedagogical settings, may prove to be quite the challenge for some pedagogues, as the institutions must understand and implement the technological approaches and methods as a part of the everyday life, as well as understand and explore the media-play as a part of a child’s life formation, cultivation, cultural learning, socialisation and identity-work. Through this project we seek encourage pedagogues and other practitioners in the field of child pedagogy to learn from the examples given throughout our work with the pedagogues in Bording, Denmark. Through our work we incite other pedagogues to therefore adopt an open, but at the same time critical reflexive mindset towards how the medialisation of children’s play challenge and reconstruct their view and educated take on formation, learning, socialisation etc. (Christiansen, Hestbech & Jørnø, 2015: 7). Danish media researcher, Ph.D., Stine Liv Johansen argue that adults, be they parents, teachers or pedagogues are doing children a great disservice should they ban or surround media-play by tight restrictions. On the contrary media-pedagogy is about forming a relationship with children, where digital media acts as a natural and suitable add-on to the other formative and cultivative pedagogical practices going on in Danish kindergartens today (Johansen, 2014: 6). Through thorough analysis from the field of practice we seek to convey just that. Intent of publication We seek out a publication strategy embracing both traditional media for academic research findings and newer, to some, unconventional publication channels. Our traditional contributions may include textbook chapters and academic articles published in international peer reviewed journals, besides various international conference presentations. A more unconventional take would be the creation of a YouTube-channel devoted to video-based lectures and other in-depth analyses on the field of practice, building on the findings and overall outcome extracted from this project.References:Christiansen, R. B., Hestbech, A. M. & Jørnø, R. L. (2015). Medier og digital kultur - Medialisering i pædagogisk praksis. Systime.Ensslin A & Goorimoorthee T. (2018). Transmediating Bildung: Video Games as Life Formation Narratives. Games and Culture. Vol. 13. Issue 6. pp. 1-22. SAGE.Gee, J. P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era - Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning. Griffin.Johansen, S. L. (2014). Børns liv og leg med medier. Dafolo.Kemmis, S. (2009). Action Research as a Practice Based Practice, Educational Action Research, 17 (3), 463-474.O’Brien, R. (2001). An Overview of the methodological approach of action research, in Richardson, R. (ed.), Theory and Practice of Action Research. Available online at: http://web.ca~robrien/papers/arfinal.html.Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (2001). Introduction: Inquiry and participation in search of a world worthy of human aspiration. In Reason, P., Bradbury, H., (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Action Research. Participative Inquiry and Practice. 1st edn. London: SAGE.Stuart, K., Walker, S., Cammack, P., Bunting, M., Moshuus, G.H., Frostholm, P.H., Mikkelsen, S.H. & Graversen, D. (2019). “Developing An Equality Literacy for Practitioners Working with Children, Young People and Families through Action Research", In: Educational Action Research. (in print)The Ministry for Children, Education and Equality (2016). Master for en styrket pædagogisk læreplan. Ministeriet for Børn, Undervisning og Ligestilling.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date3 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019
EventECER 2019: 'Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future' - Hamborg, Germany
Duration: 3 Sept 20196 Sept 2019


ConferenceECER 2019


  • digital media


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