The Process Is Not Enough: Children and Teachers Creating Multimodal Digital Stories in Kindergarten
This PhD study is a contribution to the contemporary debate on the educational uses of digital technology with young children in early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions. For young children growing up in the 21st century, digital technology is intertwined in their everyday lives. Nevertheless, children’s use of digital technology in ECEC is still limited, especially with regards to creative use of technology. Several researchers call for more empirical studies of young children’s creation with digital technology.
In this study, digital technology is emphasised as a tool to create, by which the children and the teachers are the creators of their own products to be shared with others. The purpose is to contribute with research-based knowledge of children’s and teachers’ collaborative, technology- mediated story creation processes. The overall research question is as follows: What emerges when kindergarten teachers involve groups of children (age 4-5 years) in technology-mediated story creation processes? The study has a qualitative multiple-case study approach with two cases, focusing on observable contemporary events. In both cases, six children and one kindergarten teacher have created a multimodal digital story together: an e-book and an animated movie. The empirical material consists of video-recorded field-observations of the process, interviews with the participants and the final products.
The research question is operationalised into three sub-questions that address the overall question from three perspectives: the participants, the creation processes, and the final products. In Article I, the technology- mediated creation process is explored, which can be described as a complex interplay of traditional non-digital activities and new digital activities. For the children, to record sound and to share were found to be the most important. In Article II, the teachers’ pedagogical strategies during the creation process with the children is emphasised. The three most frequently used pedagogical strategies were inviting to dialogue, explaining the practical, and instructing for results. In Article III, the animated movie is explored in-depth through a focus on how different modalities and literacy devices contribute to the development of the story. The importance of including the process, the product, the literacy devices, and all of the modalities in the analysis is highlighted, as well as the importance of being open for the magic during young children’s creation processes.
Through the analysis of the three articles, four new themes have arisen: emerging possibilities due to digital technology; creators in a creative process; an interplay of multiple knowledge areas; and the process is not enough. In the discussion I argue that a technology-mediated story creation process with a group of kindergarten children and a teacher can be interpreted as a collaborative creative process. A synergy of ideas arises through the collaborative co-construction process. Each single part of the creative process may not be viewed as being inherently creative; however, the fusion of these parts into a final multimodal digital story makes it an example of the creative use of digital technology. The children and teachers collaborate and create a product that is new, original and meaningful for them. The process is vital; however, the process itself is not enough—the product also matters—especially for the children.
Teachers’ capacity and knowledge of how to integrate technology and pedagogy with other relevant knowledge areas such as creativity and creative processes are crucial when using digital technology with children in ECEC. The final products may seem complicated to create; however, it is easier than it seems. The study contributes with research- based knowledge of creative use of digital technology with groups of young children, important for the ECEC field and kindergarten teacher education.