400 children from 3 to 7 years old of 10 schools

The purpose of the research was to see if it was possible to reconfigure children’s representation of technology through the use of technology tools to construct digital stories.

Created in the biennuim 2016-2018



Laura Parigi
Alessandra Anichini
Rudi Bartolini
INDIRE: National institute of documentation, innovation and educational research

Name: Digital technology in early chilhood education: from representations to digital storytelling practices

The hypothesis on which the research was based concerned the possibility or otherwise of modifying an image of technology as a “passive” instrumentation, similar to television. The work, carried out over two school years, revealed the possibility of intervening in widespread beliefs by changing the approach to digital technologies.

The research had the idea of establishing a deep connection between the representation of technology by adults (whether parents or teachers) and the imagery that develops in the minds of children. The hypothesis that guided the research was based precisely on the idea that this representation in fact gave back the image of technology as a “passive” instrumentation, assimilated in some way, for this age group, used mostly as a screen for viewing figures, photographs and, above all, cartoons.

This idea of technology, however, was considered potentially modifiable by intervening in schools, proposing educational activities able to return to tablets, smartphones, screens in general, their instrumental role, useful precisely for the design and development of stories similar to those that generally convey, already pre-packaged, for the joy of young users.

The two years of research have allowed us to experiment and observe teaching practices related to the production of digital narratives (digital storytelling), carried out through the use of technologies available in the classrooms involved (mainly computers and tablets), and, in two of the classes involved, of a particular technology, the I-Theatre, a system that combines tools for the acquisition of research, images and sounds to software for the development of animated texts, achievable through direct manipulation of the elements on the screen.

In fact, the system makes the production of “digital stories”, i.e., short animated cartoons that are the product of the children’s creativity, made up of stories narrated by them, with their drawings, voices and gestures, captured by the screen on which two-dimensional representations of animals, characters and objects move by drag and drop.

The teachers of the 10 schools were, therefore, involved in every phase: from the initial training, to the planning meetings, up to the experimentation and reflection on practices. The research path has therefore included four different phases:

  • Phase I – The starting problem and the context analysis
  • Phase II – The digital narrative and instructional design
  • Phase III – Experimentation
  • Phase IV – The dissemination of results