Contact Information

project website

Project Co-ordinators

Joanna McPake

Ms Joanna McPake
Deputy Director
Scottish CILT
Institute of Education
Pathfoot Building
University of Stirling
t 01786 446295
w website

Christine Stephen

Dr Christine Stephen

Lydia Plowman

Dr Lydia Plowman

Sarah Berch-Heyman

Ms Sarah Berch-Heyman

Project Secretary
Ms Pam McGibbon
Post: Ms Pamela McGibbon,
Institute of Education,
University of Stirling, STIRLING,
t: 01786 467636




There has been little research so far into young children's experiences with new communication technologies, or into the implications for their subsequent educational development. This project focuses on the home life of three to five year olds and investigates factors leading to the development of e-literacy.

It considers whether children's developing e-literacy can usefully be compared with their developing print literacy. This 26 months project will also investigate whether a digital divide is emerging between children from 'technology rich' and 'technology poor' families.

Our own earlier research, found considerable disparities between children's experiences at home compared with pre-school or the early years of primary education, where the focus is principally on basic technical competences in relation to computers, largely ignoring the development of socio-cultural competences. In the latter stages of the project, we will therefore conduct focused discussions with policy-makers and professionals concerned with young children's education, to identify the implications of the study's findings for pre-school and early years education.

The research will involve a survey of 400 families with young children and case studies of 24 children over a period of 18 months. The data collected will include information on children's access to new communication technologies at home and in the community, and the opportunities to make use of these technologies. We will also explore the extent to which young children are included in the activities of others using new communication technologies and parents' views on the social and educational value of such involvement.

The study lasts 26 months in total, beginning in October 2004.


McPake, J, C Stephen, L Plowman, D Sime & S Downey (2005). Already at a disadvantage? ICT in the home and children’s preparation for primary school. British Educational Communications and Technology Agency. (pdf)

McPake, J, Downey , S., Plowman, L., Sime, D. & Stephen, C. (under review, 2005). Already at a disadvantage? The Impact of Socio-Economic Disadvantage on Young Children’s Developing ICT Competences in the Home. Accepted for publication subject to revision, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.

Stephen C (2006) Early Years Education: Perspectives from a review of the international literature. (pdf)

Plowman, L. & Stephen, C. (in preparation). Representing Guided Interaction: Principles and Practice. Imminent submission to Mind, Culture and Activity.

Plowman, L. & Stephen, C. (under review). Guided Interaction in Pre-School Settings. Submitted to Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.