Transference of learning from play with iPads in early childhood

Gretchen Geng, Leigh Disney, Jon Mason

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Whether it is the alphabet, a song, or knowledge of touchscreen navigation, young children now routinely learn many things while playing with iPads and similar devices. Despite this child-friendly technology clearly stimulating engagement there also exist significant debates about this topic among early childhood education professionals. This paper reports on a small research project that investigates: a) whether touch screen digital devices can provide young children with practical and educational information; b) whether these children can transfer their learning through individual play with such devices; c) what factors need to be considered that could improve the learning outcomes of young children; and, d) how young children manifest their learning outcomes. Through an observational case-study that involved young (2-year old) children we observed the transfer of learning from 2D sources to 3D objects and the ability of these children in drawing 2D images from understanding 3D objects. Although a video deficit effect showed young children displaying poorer ability in transferring learning from 2D sources to 3D objects relative to their ability to do likewise from a live demonstration, these children were effective at transferring their learning from 2D sources to 3D objects. However, it was also found that to be effective requires multiple presentations, experience and assistance of language cues to scaffold their understanding. These findings suggest that parents and teachers could further examine the value of using 2D sources, such as television, videos, computers and touch screens in this way.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICCE - Mumbai, India, 2016
Subtitle of host publicationThe 24th International Conference on Computers in Education, Nov. 28th - Dec. 2nd, 2016 - "Think Global Act Local" - Main Conference Proceedings
EditorsWeiqin Chen, Jie-Chi Yang, Sahana Murthy, Su Luan Wong, Sridhar Iyer
Place of PublicationTaoyuan City Taiwan
PublisherAsia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9789868473577
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Computers in Education 2016 - Mumbai, India
Duration: 28 Nov 20162 Dec 2016
Conference number: 24th


ConferenceInternational Conference on Computers in Education 2016
Abbreviated titleICCE 2016
Internet address


  • Chlidhood
  • IPad
  • learning transfer
  • Play
  • Touch screen technology

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