Preschool Teachers' Informal Online Professional Development in Relation to Educational Use of Tablets in Swedish Preschools.

Marklund, L.
Professional Development in Education 41(2), 236-253.


The purpose of this study is to examine preschool teachers’ online communication about use of tablets in preschools. The author analyses the questions and information that preschool teachers share with each other in two discussion groups on a social media platform, and examines the role of online communication in preschool teachers’ professional development in the areas of digitisation and didactics of information technology


Overall, the study indicates that the preschool teachers are going through a learning process in connection with using tablets as part of their pedagogical practices in preschools, and that discussion forums on social media constitute a platform for this learning process. Based on an analysis of the questions teachers ask each other in the two online groups, the author concludes that, as tablets and other technologies move into preschools, teachers’ needs for professional development and knowledge about the use of technology in pedagogical practices increase.


The teachers’ questions are categorised according to the TPACK model. This leads to three categories providing information about where the teachers are in doubt or lack knowledge about tablets in preschools. The first category, technological knowledge, includes questions that often concern challenges involved in handling the technology. The preschool teachers are looking for solutions to technical problems, e.g. how to lock a program so that children cannot change between different applications, or what kind of software or products are most suitable in preschool settings.


The second category, technological/content knowledge, is used to describe the teachers’ search for knowledge about specific technologies suitable for work with various areas of learning, e.g. applications that can be used in connection with a theme about water, or how to add a digital dimension to a project on values and emotions. This category also includes questions about applications than can help children with special needs or that can support work with school-oriented skills.


The final category, technological/pedagogical knowledge, deals with awareness about the pedagogical benefits and limitations of different technological tools. Questions in this category concern, for instance, applications to support documentation practices at preschools, sources of information on digital tools, or, more generally, the attitudes and opinions of preschool teachers regarding tablets and other technologies becoming part of the pedagogical practices at preschools.


The analysis of the questions is followed by a thematisation of the other posts, which contain informative comments and ideas to inspire other preschool teachers in their work with tablets in preschools. The overall purpose of these comments is partly to promote specific resources or products, and partly to share experiences and establish contacts between different players, including preschool teachers, lecturers and product developers. In the author’s opinion, promotion of applications and other resources is linked to market interests in introducing tablets in Swedish preschools and to the resulting need for professional development of preschool teachers.

The study concludes by emphasising that, as different technologies enter preschools, the need for flexible professional development initiatives for preschool teachers increases.


The data material in this study is made up of posts (questions or comments) from two online groups consisting of preschool teachers with an interest in the use of tablets in preschool settings. The author collected 465 posts and divided them into posts containing questions (239 posts) or informative comments (226 posts). In the study, this design is referred to as an online ethnography or a netnography.

The analysis comprises a categorisation of the teachers’ questions based on a specific theoretical model, TPACK (The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework), which is used to define different types of pedagogical knowledge (technological, pedagogical and content knowledge), and how the different types of knowledge interact in specific learning contexts. In this study, the model is used to classify the questions according to whether they focus on technology, pedagogical/didactic considerations about the use of tablets in preschools, or the actual learning content when using different technologies. The informative comments from the two online groups were analysed thematically in order to establish the role the shared information plays in the online discussions, and how the information may possibly refer to the professional development of preschool teachers.



Marklund, L. (2015). Preschool Teachers' Informal Online Professional Development in Relation to Educational Use of Tablets in Swedish Preschools. Professional Development in Education 41(2), 236-253.

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