How to strengthen responsive learning opportunities in digital play today?

By Michael Hilkemeijer


As an early childhood educator, you can be responsive to children’s ideas and play by embedding important practices that support your curriculum-decision making. Responsiveness enables you to respectfully enter children’s digital play and ongoing projects to stimulate their thinking and enrich their learning.


In a previous video, I discussed how you can observe and assess young children’s use of digital technology in play-based learning. Skill acquisition was an area where many learning opportunities could exist and in this video, I will show you how you plan for learning opportunities and extend their thinking with these few simple steps today.


You don’t need to be an expert in everything digital to challenge a young child’s thinking and to guide their learning in the use of digital technology in preschool. As digital play based learning is largely practical there are many ICT skills and capabilities that can be acquired.


These skills and capabilities can come from moments of exploration, problem-solving, symbolisms, innovation and of course, intentional teaching opportunities that involves skill learning.


I have listed many of these in my online workshops for preschool teachers.


So, after you have observed and assessed a young child’s capabilities through the course of digital play based learning with tools such as the ‘Digital Play Framework’, you can build on their existing knowledge and skills in the following ways.


ICT capability can be developed when you enter children’s digital play and key components of this includes routines, ICT techniques, concepts, processes and higher order thinking skills. It is considered the ability to utilise ICT independently, appropriately and creatively.


Responsively planning for learning opportunities in Preschool

You can plan further learning opportunities for routines such as learning how to use a graphics tablet when you determine how the ICT techniques were being executed. For example, a young child might be hesitant, steady or fluent. 


This type of assessment information would help you to plan opportunities for a child to move from ‘steady’ to ‘fluent’. The judgement that you make would be based on your observation.


Digital technology in early childhood education

For ICT techniques, you would ask the simple question about whether they could perform a technique after having seen a whole-class or small group demonstration.  The child might need some support in the form of a reminder, help sheet or adult helper.


If the child continued to need this type of support, then your assessment would be that they were not making progress and you would need to find out why.



Behind every skill there are concepts and conceptual understanding can be assessed with the use of effective questioning and discussions. Challenge their naïve ideas about why and how ICT techniques are used.


Whether a child can be said to be able to carry out a process can only be judged by whether they make decisions. Higher order thinking skills are assessed by the extent to which scaffolding is necessary.


In addition to using the DPF as a model of observation and assessment, you can employ these strategies to further determine their capabilities.



By employing these strategies, you will be more prepared to plan for further learning opportunities for preschoolers when integrating digital technology in early childhood education. You will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of these digital experiences offered and reflect on your digital pedagogy to ensure that every learning experience offered suits the individual needs of the children in your care and extends their knowledge, skills and expertise in technology in a manner that will make you to be responsive educator today.