Centre for Digital Youth Care is interested in how day care centres apply digital media in their everyday practice. This is a field that continues to grow, and which give rise to a lot of exciting initiatives and projects amongst our counties in Denmark.

We are concerned with two two issues; On the one hand, there is the child’s use of digital media which include play, relations and development, and this encompasses how youth care workers reflect on and think about the use and implementation of the media involved. On the other hand, we focus on how digital media is implemented in a way that is optimal for an already established pedagogical practice. In this regard, we are interested in how digital pedagogical strategies can support pedagogical practices best possible.

In June, we systematically took on the task to learn more about the digital pedagogical practices in Danish youth care centres. We conducted a smaller field study in which we observed and interviewed pedagogical staff about their experiences with local, digital initiatives. We also visited institutions in various counties including kindergartens and nursery centres. This blog entry gives the reader an idea of which areas we find particularly interesting right now.

Remote controlled learning

“Day care centres experience constant change, and in order to keep up with those changes, the day care centres have to rethink their concept of pedagogical practices,” says one of the staff members in a kindergarten in the city of Galten. At this day care centre, they highlight remote controlled learning as a tool for providing more time and opportunities to optimise resources and priorities in their work. The day care centre does not shy away from talking about efficiency improvement as they believe that digital media indeed has the possibility to replace practical and none-pedagogical tasks and will create more time for their main priority; the children.

Remote controlled learning enables children to learn even though pedagogical staff may not be consistently around to help them. Staff may initiate play time, for instance the game of “stop the music” type of dance at vidensbrønden (the well of wisdom) which acts as an interactive floor for play, learning, and movement. Here, the children can turn off/on music from other rooms through an app on their iPhone. As a result, the children’s play time is not interrupted when pedagogical staff takes on other duties. The desired effect of using digital media’s potential and opportunities the best way possible helps create more time for caregiving and actual pedagogical work.

Digital media mediates new relationships

Some day care centres prioritise that children teach each other about apps and communicate to each other how their apps work. We have observed how children can help each other initiate play but also how children may help pedagogical staff understanding play and games. This takes place within the day care centres as well as amongst relationships with other day care centres or the closest school. Within those relationships, children learn from each other how to use an app.

So, digital media can be used as a tool to close the gap between children varying in age, and also between children and adults. Some pedagogical staff have expressed to us that digital media helps develop children’s ability to cooperate, ie. sharing an iPad, and that it creates interrelated relationships. Others have told us that after introducing digital media in day care centres, children have started to increasingly play together across existing groups. Thus, new and different relationships were built, that may not have risen through other games. Here, digital media contribute to bridging the gap between children and adults and creating new relationships.

A changing pedagogical field

When talking about digital media in day care centres it is important to realize which changes digital media possibly entails along with what adjustments it requires from an already established pedagogical practice. Rooms for unfolding digital media need to be created, and it is important to keep an open mind in relation to which benefits and knowledge it entails for children as well as pedagogical staff.

At the same time it is important to clarify what you cannot achieve merely by implementing digital media, and when this implementation results in inadvertent consequences. It is important to think about pedagogical intentions and ideologies versus reality and circumstance. Digital media must be discussed, reflected upon and be subject to debate within each day care centre. This makes the difference when talking about well-implemented digital media.

By former employee Marianne Jessen

This post is originally written in Danish.