NP3 outcomes related to RQ1

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RQ1 findings RQ2 findings RQ3 findings RQ4 findings RQ5 findings Executive summary Meta-analysis report

RQ1 - What are the digital practices that pupils bring to their learning in school?

The findings about children’s digital practices outside school need to be viewed in the light of the inevitably unrepresentative sample of children and carers who took part in this aspect of the research.

All of the ‘log children’ lived in homes where ICT was readily available, including access to mobile devices and WiFi connected to the Internet.

Children engaged in a wide variety of uses of ICT outside school, including, but not limited to:

  • Playing games ranging from simple ‘arcade’ style games such as Snake or Angry Birds through to sophisticated use of virtual worlds such as Minecraft.
  • Finding information, either using a web search engine such as Google or, very often, searching within YouTube
  • Creating, editing and sharing images, videos and music, ranging from using painting apps, through to taking still photographs or videos with their mobile device, to sophisticated editing of video and audio and uploading to the web (e.g. to their own YouTube channel)
  • Communicating with family and friends, and much less often with people they didn’t know in the physical world. This included ‘in game’ communication (e.g. using built-in chat tools or other channels such as Skype)
  • For some children sustaining relationships was the main purpose and specific communication tools such as WhatsApp, Facebook and/or Facetime were used
  • Programming/coding whilst less common, was mentioned, usually as a minor interest compared with the other out of school uses of ICT
  • Other ‘fun’ uses of ICT, including downloading and/or listening to music, watching videos/TV (often using a service such as Netflix or catch-up TV), reading e-books.

In order to make sense of the vast array of uses of ICT, and equally importantly the ways in which children used it outside school, the Digital Practice Framework (DPF) was developed. This encapsulated key aspects of children’s digital practices, which related to why they were using ICT (Purpose), and the level of sophistication of that use combined with the way in which they positioned themselves in relation to other users of ICT (Participation). Find out more about the Digital Practice Framework (DPF).

The Digital Practice Framework (DPF)
Digital Practice Framework 17-06-20.jpeg

The 43 log children’s digital practices were categorised against the DPF. Key similarities and differences between children whose practice ‘fitted’ into the different cells within the DPF (e.g. Entertainment/Marginal, Entertainment/Engaged, Extend an interest/Marginal, etc.) were looked for in relation to:

  • the home arena, more specifically: level of ICT provision; family routines; rules/time constraints and access to the Internet; and parents’ views
  • people in action and children’s identities (including gender identities)

A key finding was that there was a wide variation in levels of engagement and sophistication of ICT use. This was often due to constraints placed on the child’s use of ICT within their home arena or due to lack of support due to parents’ own levels of ICT competence and/or concerns about children using ICT. This challenges commonly held assumptions about the majority of children being highly competent users of ICT. Gender did appear to influence children’s digital practices.

Another key finding, which is encapsulated in the Purpose dimension of the DPF, is that whilst the majority of children use ICT primarily for entertainment, others purposively use it to extend physical world interests. Children were agentic, they pro-actively and independently searched for information about things that they were interested in.

See Section 6 of the meta-analysis report for a fuller discussion of the findings relating to RQ1.

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