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Networked learning in children's transition from day-care to school: Connections between contexts
Ane Bjerre Odgaard
University of Southern Denmark, Department of Design and Communication, Kolding, Denmark.
tablet-mediated activities, networked contexts, primary contexts, day-care, primary school, transition
This paper reports on a socioculturally informed design-based study concerning young children's use of tablets within the educational contexts constituting their transition from day-care to school. The study explores tablet-mediated and dialogical activities as potential means for negotiating connections between the different contexts which the children traverse during this transition. At several occasions, the participating 5- to 7-year-old children are invited to use tablets for producing photos, photo-collages and e-books about their everyday institutional environments, thus aiming at mediating the children's engagements within their contexts. During processes of mutual production and dialogical reviewing of this digital content, children, peers and professionals dialogically and multimodally explore the institutional contexts of transition. As an element of this, differences and similarities between these contexts are pivots of dialogue. Networked learning is thus conceptualized as a matter of networked situations and contexts for young children during their transition from day-care to primary school, and technological artefacts are viewed as potential means for mediating children's meaning making about continuities as well as differences during this process. It is argued that tablet-mediated activities in young children's educational settings tend to imply a certain theoretical as well as practical notion of worthwhile tablet use, valuating active digital production against consumption of content, and at the same time involving a certain educational use of tablets which dissociates itself from the social and emotional aspects of tablet use often related to games and play-culture. In the present project, activities partly adapt to prevailing notions of worthwhile tablet use by including literacy-aspects involved in the tasks of children producing digital content. But at the same time, the intended focus on children's engagements within and perspectives on their institutional contexts transcends tasks of simple instruction and implies dimensions of social and emotional character which may be delicate to handle within the educational context of pedagogically planned activities. This calls for certain considerations concerning the cultural and social dimensions of meaning making which are involved when dealing with children's experiences within their institutional contexts. Potentials as well as pitfalls are highlighted by way of examples, and finally some principles are outlined regarding the project's ongoing work on tablet-mediated activities as means for engaging pedagogically with children’s experiences of their everyday institutional lives across contexts.
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