Impact of using interactive devices in Spanish early childhood education public schools

Estefanía Martín, David Roldán‐Alvarez, Pablo A. Haya, Cristina Fernández‐Gaullés, Cristian Guzmán, Hermelinda Quintanar

J Comput Assist Learn. (2019) 35(1), 1-12. ISSN: 1365-2729 (JCR IF:2.451,  (2018) Q1 41/243 Education & Educational Research)


The adoption of Information and Communication Technologies in early childhood education is crucial for adapting traditional classrooms to the digital era. Over time, young children are increasingly using touch screen technologies such as tablets at home and in early childhood settings. However, the literature shows that there is a significant gap in knowledge of using this technology in early childhood education. Most researchers have focused on the pedagogical theory behind using touch screen devices, but there have not been many empirical studies about how these technologies affect students’ learning processes. This paper presents three learning experiences where early childhood students perform educational activities using tablet computers, interactive whiteboards, and paper cards. The results show that students who used the technology were more motivated and achieved better results that those who used paper cards.

What is already known about this topic:

  • The use of ICT in childhood education offers new possibilities for teachers to provide new and more visual digital learning content to their students.
  • Touch technologies seem suitable for young students. Because their motor skills are not fully developed yet, interacting with computers through a mouse and a keyboard is more difficult than doing it through natural gestures.
  • There are many studies in higher education levels that demonstrate that proper use of ICT in education can lead to an increase of the students’ motivation and learning.

What this paper adds:

  • Three empirical studies in three different childhood education classrooms to shed some light about how ICT can impact positively students learning.
  • A comparison of interactive whiteboards and tablet computers benefits regarding more traditional methodologies in childhood education.
  • Insights about how hardware and software can be combined to provide students a suitable learning environment in childhood education classrooms.

Implications for practice and/or policy:

  • Teachers should consider how they will create the workgroups. It is highly advisable to create heterogeneous groups taking into account the students’ skills. This way, members of the same group can help each other, creating a richer learning scenario.
  • Several teachers who participated in our studies said that they were not able to use ICT in their classrooms because they did not have enough digital competences. Our studies and the results obtained led them consider integrating technology in their classrooms. The good results obtained by the students who worked with technology changed the teachers’ perspective about the use of technology in the classroom.
  • Students showed a great interest in the use of tablet computers and interactive whiteboards, which translated into higher motivation compared with the students who solved the activities on paper.
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