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Teaching in the iWorld: developing a repertoire of pedagogical discourse around the usage of touch screen devices in early years classrooms

conference contribution
posted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by Joanne O'MaraJoanne O'Mara, L Laidlaw
Touch-screen devices have been enthusiastically adopted by schools across Australia and Canada. Their ease of use means that they are accessible by very young children, and these children often have free access to these devices in their home, however the devices tend to be ‘domesticated’ in the school context (O’Mara and Laidlaw, 2011). In the short period of their availability, a plethora of educational applications have been developed for these devices. This paper addresses emergent themes from our 2011-2013 Canadian/Australian project, Literacy learning in playful spaces: using multi-modal strategies to develop narrative with young learners, funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Insight Development Grant). In our analysis of the discourse around the introduction of portable touch screen devices into school literacy classes (published texts, teacher interviews, classroom observations), we noted that much of the public discourse is slanted towards the idea of “teacher-proofing” the curriculum. Initially the teachers we have been working with saw the apps themselves as complete, as doing all the work and the discourse around the devices was around what apps are “best”, and “is there an app for that?” It was only with more experience and time that teachers were able to harness the range of affordances of the devices—their capacity for recording audio, video, pictures etc., and start to categorise the apps themselves. In this paper we suggest ways in which current literacy models might be used to develop a repertoire of pedagogical discourse around these devices, providing language and framings for teachers to think about how these new tools might best be used to enhance literacy teaching and learning. O’Mara, J. & Laidlaw, L. (2011). Living in the iWorld: Two literacy researchers reflect on the changing texts and literacy practices of childhood. English Teaching: Practice and Critique 10 (4): 149-159. Available:



Australian Association for Research in Education. Annual Conference (43rd : 2013 : Adelaide, S. A.)


1 - 1


Australian Association for Research in Education


Adelaide, S. A.

Place of publication

Canberra, A. C. T.

Start date


End date




Publication classification

E1.1 Full written paper - refereed


J White

Title of proceedings

AARE 2013 : Shaping Australian educational research : Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2013 annual conference

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