digital literacies, early childhood, mixed methods research



Family mediation of preschool children’s digital media practices at home

Read the full article open access via Learning, Media & Technology

Parents, grandparents, siblings and peers ‘extend’ and ‘relate’ preschool children’s digital media practices at home. Thanks to The University of Sheffield Library, my latest article is now available open access from Learning, Media and Technology.

Family members are often unaware how much they support preschoolers in developing competencies and making meaningful connections in relation to the digital. A more detailed look at the positive and instructional aspects of family mediation, building on formative work from Sonia Livingstone, Ellen Helsper, Bieke Zaman and many others.

Thank you very much to the journal’s publisher, Taylor & Francis and editors, John Potter, Ben Williamson and Felicitas Macgilchrist and to the Economic and Social Research Council, who funded this doctoral research. Not forgetting Jackie Marsh and Becky Parry who supervised it.

I would love to hear from others working in this area, especially to hear whether the concepts of ‘extending’ and ‘relating’ resonate (family members drawing on a child’s media interests to engage them in new activities or drawing a child’s attention to a connection between their media or non-media interests and something else).

Children, technology and play

Read the summary report on The LEGO Foundation’s website

Along with colleagues at The University of Sheffield and The University of Cape Town, I recently published findings of a large scale research project undertaken with The LEGO Foundation. The full report is now available to read on The LEGO Foundation’s website, along with a shorter summary.

In addition, a number of booklets are available, which build on the study’s findings to provide advice to a range of stakeholders, including parents, teachers, children, policy makers and the media industry.

Young children using an Augmented Reality app to learn coding

Read the full report on Twinkl’s website

I’ve been working with Twinkl Educational Publishing to research children’s engagement and learning with an innovative app, which uses Augmented Reality (AR) technology to teach basic coding skills to young children. The app is themed around the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

As part of the project, we developed a framework for early coding skills and knowledge, based on existing literature. In their play with Little Red Coding Club, children successfully defined and de-bugged lists of steps (algorithms) to complete tasks within the game.

It was lovely to see the excitement of children exploring perceived and imagined spaces in AR and co-constructing narratives based on their engagement with the game. It’s been a brilliant project to work on and we can’t wait to see how the report feeds in to Twinkl’s continuing development of the app.

You can learn more about Little Red Coding Club and our research HERE.

Social Media, Television & Children

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Read the full report at

Researchers from The School of Education at The University of Sheffield have recently published a report on 0-16 year olds’ use of social media and television, in collaboration with BBC Children’s and Dubit.

You can read the full report, as well as detailed guidance for parents, teachers and the media industry on the project website.

The research included an online survey of 3154 UK families who had children aged 0-16. Case studies were also undertaken with 6 families.

Digital Literacies in Early Childhood

Read our entry on Digital Literacies in Early Childhood in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education

I’m delighted to say that my joint publication with Professor Jackie Marsh, ‘Digital Literacies in Early Childhood’ has been published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

As anyone involved in teaching (or, indeed, researching) in HE is well aware, the proliferation of information readily accessible online presents a serious challenge to quality research. The Oxford Research Encyclopedias draw on expert authors to provide readers with a reliable understanding of an unfamiliar topic. Each article is peer-reviewed in line with the rigorous quality standards associated with Oxford publications, but currently freely available online. Tim Allen, Acquisitions Editor for Oxford University Press, Education discusses the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education HERE.

The study of digital literacies in early childhood (0–8 years) is an emergent and fast-growing area of scholarship. Young children’s communicative practices are today more complex and diverse in scope than ever before, encompassing both “traditional” reading and writing and a growing range of “new” communicative competencies across multiple digital media contexts. Scholars are increasingly interested in children’s literacy practices outside traditional print-based texts, and the theory of multimodality helps them to understand children’s communicative practices in relation to a range of modes, including those present in digital technology.

Continue reading “Digital Literacies in Early Childhood”

Module redesign: rebooting MA qual methods teaching

I was recently approached by Learning and Teaching Services (LeTS) at my University (The University of Sheffield). LeTS were updating their online toolkit for teaching staff, and were looking for case studies to provide examples of ‘best practice’ within Learning and Teaching. Having come come across my work redesigning the EDU6357 module in The School of Education in my FHEA application, they requested a case study in some sort of creative format. It gave me a great opportunity to reflect and to experiment with a new format for disseminating information, too!

EDU cccc

The case study infographic can be found above. The full LeTS toolkit, featuring examples of best practice at The University of Sheffield, is forthcoming.

A Secondment to Fab Lab Berlin

I am contributing to the MakEY research blog. My latest post shares my reflections from my first secondment with Fab Lab, Berlin.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship with MakeEY

From Feb 19th, I will be taking some time out from my PhD to undertake a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. For the next eight months, I will be on secondment with the MakeEY project as a representative of The University of Sheffield. More detailed information about ‘Makerspaces in the early years’ is now available on the project’s website.

Arriving in Germany for my first secondment with FabLab Berlin

Continue reading “Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship with MakeEY”

Themed issue of MERJ: Media Learning & Engagement in Early Childhood

Announcing a themed issue of MERJ: Media Learning & Engagement in Early Childhood

I’m excited to be guest editing a new themed issue of the Media Education Research Journal (MERJ), alongside Becky Parry, Cary Bazalgette, Ashley Woodfall and Michelle Cannon.

In both dominant research paradigms and public discourse young children’s engagements with media continue to be seen narrowly in terms of the risks or benefits that may be involved. Meanwhile very young children are increasingly engaging with media at home in ways that influence their talk, their play, their developing identities and indeed their orientation to literacy. A growing new body of research also suggests that digital meaning making offers very young children distinct opportunities to explore, experiment and negotiate with assets and resources in an enticingly liminal space. In this ‘elastic’ space, children feel empowered by the extent of their control and are not limited or obstructed by the written form (Potter, 2012; Cannon, 2016).  Continue reading “Themed issue of MERJ: Media Learning & Engagement in Early Childhood”

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