Blurring Boundaries of Digital and Physical in Early Learning

During the spring of 2020, COVID-19 changed the landscape of early childhood education. Early childhood educators across the world adapted their prior practices to reach young children through remote engagement. The profession was not prepared for this change in learning modalities, nor were educators prepared to have the complex conversation that was about to unfold on the role digital learning plays in young children’s lives. While extensive research exists on the role of technology in early childhood education, few meaningful examples are available to support practitioners in their work with young children. Further, in early childhood, long time controversies have developed around the developmental appropriateness of digital learning with young children. The pandemic, however, forced the field to move past the controversies and to embrace the possibilities.

Long influenced by the pedagogy of the Reggio Emilia Approach in Northern Italy, the instructors in this course have a shared view that they will offer participants --the concept of “hybridization” as it relates to early childhood. Hybridization in early childhood can be defined as not simply adding digital and analog materials together, but instead giving life to something new. As the world becomes hybridized, there is a risk of this being defined without children’s voices. All children, across racial, cultural, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds can  learn when connecting analog (physical) and digital materials and technologies. At this time when digital teaching and learning has become imperative in early childhood, it is essential that hybridized analog and digital technologies be actively, critically and consciously examined alongside children.

Course instructors from University of Colorado Denver, Boulder Journey School and Portland State University and researchers from Fondazione Reggio Children - Centro Loris Malaguzzi, (Reggio Emilia), Italy, will co-create a learning space that introduces and invites participants to engage with pedagogical documentation, analog and digital materials and tools to explore concepts and practices of hybridized learning in early childhood. We will tell stories and exchange experiences of how children and adults blur boundaries between physical and digital worlds to co-create contextualized, playful, learning experiences. Course instructors, illuminating the voice of the child, will invite course participants to dialogue about hybridized, contextual learning experiences among children and adults in their own contexts.

This track is ideal for:



Rebecca Kantor
Rebecca Kantor is Dean of the School of Education & Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver.
Carla Rinaldi
Carla Rinaldi is President of Fondazione Reggio Children—Centro Loris Malaguzzi.
Alison Maher
Alison Maher is the Executive Director at Boulder Journey School, a school which is known world-wide for innovation in both early childhood education and teacher education.
Lori Ryan
Lori Ryan is Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development.
Ingrid Mari Anderson
Ingrid Mari Anderson is a faculty at Portland State University in the Early Childhood Inclusive Education program.
Barbara Donnici
Barbara Donnici is Coordinator of the research project scintillae, play and learning in the digital age at Fondazione Reggio Children—Centro Loris Malaguzzi.
Lorenzo Manera
Lorenzo Manera is currently a postdoc fellow in Aesthetics and Pedagogy in the Department of Education and Human Sciences of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
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