Technical Appendix

Definition

Digital technology is mainly associated with computer or digital technology based strategies to support children’s development and learning within educational settings and contexts for early years learning. There are different approaches which can be classified into: a) technology for children to use, where digital technologies are used as part of their planned experiences or as part of teaching activities, b) technology for early years professionals, where equipment such as interactive whiteboards or digital cameras is used to support the interactions with children, and c) technology to support professional development. It includes digital technologies such as smart devices, cameras, video and DVDs as well as computers, laptops and tablets.

Search Terms: digital technology, word processing computer/education technology, online/e-learning, computer assisted instruction

Evidence Rating

There is one meta-analysis analysing the impact of digital technology on attainment. The degree to which digital technology should be used in early years education is highly contested. Some studies suggest that excessive use of digital technology (e.g. more than 1-2 hours a day, including television) is linked to attention problems, sleep and eating disorders and obesity. However, no high quality evaluations have assessed the link between extended use of technology and educational outcomes in the early years. Evidence suggests that digital technology is associated with moderate learning gains. The evidence indicates digital technology should be used to supplement, rather than replace, other teaching activities and interactions. Introducing new technology on its own is unlikely to have an impact; it must be accompanied by a change in pedagogy to improve learning. Overall, the evidence related to digital technology is limited.

Additional Cost Information

The initial costs of investing in new technologies are high. Once technology has been purchased, it can usually be used for several years, and many early years settings are already equipped with computers, digital cameras and interactive whiteboards. The evidence suggests that early years settings rarely take into account, or budget for, the additional training and support costs that are likely to make the difference to how well the technology is used. Expenditure is estimated at an average of £300 per child for equipment and technical support and a further £500 per nursery class (£35 per child) for professional development. Costs are therefore estimated as moderate.

References

1
Aubrey, C., & Dahl, S
A review of the evidence on the use of ICT in the Early Years open_in_new
Foundation Stage. Coventry: Becta
(2008)
2
Comaskey, E. M., Savage, R. S., & Abrami, P
A randomised efficacy study of Web‐based synthetic and analytic programmes among disadvantaged urban Kindergarten children open_in_new
Journal of Research in Reading 32(1), 92-108
(2009)
3
Foster, M. E., Anthony, J. L., Clements, D. H., Sarama, J., & Williams, J. M
Improving mathematics learning of kindergarten students through computer-assisted instruction open_in_new
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 47(3), 206-232
(2016)
4
Higgins, S., Xiao, Z., & Katsipataki, M
The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation open_in_new
Education Endowment Foundation
(2012)
5
Kinzie, M. B., Whittaker, J. V., Williford, A. P., DeCoster, J., McGuire, P., Lee, Y., & Kilday, C. R
MyTeachingPartner-Math/Science pre-kindergarten curricula and teacher supports: Associations with children's mathematics and science learning open_in_new
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(4), 586-599
(2014)
6
Kucirkova, N
iPads in early education: separating assumptions and evidence open_in_new
Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 715
(2014)
8
McGivern, R. F., Hilliard, V. R., Anderson, J., Reilly, J. S., Rodriguez, A., Fielding, B., & Shapiro, L
Improving pre-literacy and pre-math skills of Head Start children with classroom computer games open_in_new
Early Childhood Services: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Effectiveness, 1, 71-81
(2007)
10
Park, J., Bermudez, V., Roberts, R. C., & Brannon, E. M
Non-symbolic approximate arithmetic training improves math performance in preschoolers open_in_new
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 152, 278-293
(2016)
11
Penuel, W. R., Bates, L., Gallagher, L. P., Pasnik, S., Llorente, C., Townsend, E., & VanderBorght, M
Supplementing literacy instruction with a media-rich intervention: Results of a randomized controlled trial open_in_new
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(1), 115-127
(2012)
12
Sarama, J., Clements, D. H., Wolfe, C. B., & Spitler, M. E
Longitudinal evaluation of a scale-up model for teaching mathematics with trajectories and technologies open_in_new
Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 5(2), 105-135
(2012)
13
Tamim R.M., Bernard R.M., Borokhovski E., Abrami P.C., & Schmid R.F
What Forty Years of Research Says about the Impact of Technology on Learning: A Second-Order Meta-Analysis and Validation Study open_in_new
Review of Educational Research, 81, 4-28
(2011)
14
What Works Clearinghouse
WWC intervention report: DaisyQuest open_in_new
US. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
(2006)
15
Zucker, T. A., Moody, A. K., & McKenna, M. C (Abstract arrow_downward)
The effects of electronic books on pre-kindergartento-grade 5 students' literacy and language outcomes: A research synthesis open_in_new
Journal of Educational Computing Research, 40(1), 47-87
(2009)

Summary of effects

Meta-analyses Effect size FSM effect size
Zucker, T. A., Moody, A. K., & McKenna, M. C, (2009)
0.31 - E-books
Single Studies Effect size FSM effect size
Comaskey, E. M., Savage, R. S., & Abrami, P (2009)
- Non-significant for letter knowledge
- Non-significant for word reading
Foster, M. E., Anthony, J. L., Clements, D. H., Sarama, J., & Williams, J. M (2016)
0.43 - Numeracy
0.37 - Applied problems
Kinzie, M. B., Whittaker, J. V., Williford, A. P., DeCoster, J., McGuire, P., Lee, Y., & Kilday, C. R (2014)
0.52 - Maths
- No overall effect in science
Macaruso, P., & Walker, A (2008)
0.48 - Literacy
McGivern, R. F., Hilliard, V. R., Anderson, J., Reilly, J. S., Rodriguez, A., Fielding, B., & Shapiro, L (2007)
0.72 - Letter recognition
0.87 - Number recognition
0.55 - Quantity knowledge
Park, J., Bermudez, V., Roberts, R. C., & Brannon, E. M (2016)
0.41 - Tablet based maths
Penuel, W. R., Bates, L., Gallagher, L. P., Pasnik, S., Llorente, C., Townsend, E., & VanderBorght, M (2012)
0.55 - Letter sound
0.42 - Letter name knowledge
0.24 - Story and print concepts
0.20 - (ns) onset awareness
Sarama, J., Clements, D. H., Wolfe, C. B., & Spitler, M. E (2012)
0.38 - Follow-through
0.30 - Non-follow-through
What Works Clearinghouse (2006)
0.62 -
Effect size (indicative) 0.35  

The right hand column provides detail on the specific outcome measures or, if in brackets, details of the intervention or control group.

Meta-analyses abstracts

15
Zucker, T. A., Moody, A. K., & McKenna, M. C (2009)

Electronic books (e-books) are a prevalent method for integrating technology in preschool and elementary classrooms; however, there is a lack of consensus concerning the extent to which e-books increase literacy skills in the domains of comprehension and decoding. This article assesses the efficacy of e-books with a comprehensive review method, including a systematic literature search, comparison of outcomes with effect sizes, and discussion of individual studies that met either (a) randomized-trial synthesis criteria, or (b) quasi-experimental/observational narrative synthesis criteria. Seven studies met the randomized trial criteria and 20 studies met the quasi-experimental/observational narrative review criteria. Results from the randomized trials indicate that the effects of e-books on comprehension-related outcomes were small to medium in size. Only two randomized trials examined decoding-related outcomes, thereby preventing firm conclusions. The narrative review suggests some interactive e-book features support comprehension, whereas other incongruent features may hinder comprehension. Educational implications and future research directions are discussed.