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EAI International Conference on Design, Learning & Innovation

October 30–31, 2017 | Heraklion, Greece





Moving Beyond Boundaries: Rethinking Early Years Learning in a Digital Era



Children are increasingly relying on digital technology for play and learning. Across Europe, many children have access to digital technologies in homes and communities from birth.  In Denmark 97 % of children of 3-5 years-of-age attend a preschool, and the municipalities, who govern 72 % of the preschools, are increasingly putting a focus on digitalising play and learning for young children. While the digital era is impacting on the lives of society’s youngest citizens, it is only recently that technologies have been introduced in a wider sense to younger children’s education. However, as yet, the technology has merely been considered as a supplement, rather than a resource with qualities that can enhance and renew a pedagogical practice. This is problematic, as there is an urgent societal need for people to develop the skills and knowledge required to navigate in a complex technological world.


This presentation introduces and critically reflects upon some key challenges and open issues in the field of inclusive playful designs that utilise the educational potential of digital technologies, and invite novel, yet culturally familiar, inclusive pedagogical concepts to be applied in early childhood education. By inclusive designs, it is stressed that children should be involved in and actively contribute to the design process. Such designs seek to ensure accessibility and empower the child.



Eva Brooks is a professor in IT-based design, learning and innovation at Aalborg University, Denmark. Furthermore, she is the director of the laboratory Xlab: Design, Learning, Innovation ( Eva Brooks has a strong expertise in children and young people’s technology mediated play and learning in formal and semiformal educational practices (child-computer interaction). In this regard, her expertise relates to the design of digital technologies and learning environments as well as to learning processes and outcomes that emerge when children interact with digital technologies. Her perspective considers playful, inclusive, and participatory aspects of design and learning. When it comes to play, Eva Brooks’ focus is on “play for the sake of play” where learning outcomes are considered as added values rather than the goal. In line with these perspectives, innovation is approached from a user-driven process-oriented angle. Her research interest has always been attached to trans-disciplinary teamwork and thus, innately, competencies are wide with additional focus on establishing close collaborations with stakeholders, including addressing ethics, meanings and values. Furthermore, she has a strong interest and expertise in methodologies and methods for qualitative and design oriented research also of mixed methods approaches. Professor Eva Brooks has been involved as leader (WP, Country, and/or Project Coordinator, etc) in several European research projects, for example, LUDI, LUCAS, IdeaGarden, Pl@yground, Creativity Workshops, KidsLab, Today’s Stories, financed by COST, Erasmus, FP7, Innovation Programme, FP6. More information is available on request via