Understanding children’s motives when using iPads in Saudi classrooms: is it for play or for learning?

Omar Sulaymani, Marilyn Fleer, Denise Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Even though studies of the accessibility of digital technologies in educational contexts have become progressively more extensive, understanding children’s motive for play or for learning is essential for identifying the way they relate to touch technology. This research paper seeks to understand the relation between the motive for play and the motive for learning when iPads are introduced into a grade one class in the Saudi Arabian education setting, where there is no custom for the use of digital technologies (five children, age range 5.5 (6 years old; n=80 hours of video observations; n=12 hours of children and class teacher interviews). The teacher put in place a new learning configuration involving the iPads, and by studying how the children interpret this new situation it is possible to see what factors influence the development of their motive for play to their motive for learning. The findings are important for the Saudi context, but also for early years teachers generally because it gives insights into how digital tools can act as a vehicle through which learning can be enhanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-353
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • children
  • Cultural-historical theory
  • iPad
  • motives
  • play
  • Saudi Arabia

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