Translational research in action: The use of technology to disseminate information to parents during the COVID‐19 pandemic

Laxton, Debra, Cooper, Linda and Younie, Sarah (2021) Translational research in action: The use of technology to disseminate information to parents during the COVID‐19 pandemic. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52 (4). pp. 1538-1553. ISSN 1467-8535

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This paper addresses the research problem of how to reach, engage and support parents in home‐educating young children during the first national COVID‐19 lockdown in England (March–June 2020), which was addressed through using technology. An internet‐mediated research (IMR) approach is used to investigate the effectiveness of using technology and translational research as strategies for disseminating a rapidly produced digital guide, for promoting play‐based learning at home, to parents. Lockdown with the closure of early years provision led to parents finding themselves isolated at home with young children. Early years educators were managing a unique set of circumstances where communication with families, including those ‘harder‐to‐reach’ was contextually problematic. Qualitative data using IMR captured online interactions by unobtrusive and obtrusive methods; unsolicited emails and social media comments and questionnaire responses. Conventional content analysis identified emerging themes of access, availability, reliability and readability. Analysis showed a combination of factors impacted on the speed and scale of sharing and downloading the digital guide. First, being digitally ready as platforms were already used by early years educators and Local Authorities. Second, the professional drive of Local Authorities and early years educators to support families during the crisis and third, the availability of an easily accessible online resource seen as valuable in improving play‐based learning at home. Practitioner notes: What is already known about this topic? There are high levels of digital readiness in the United Kingdom. Technology is one method used by early years settings to communicate with parents. Parental engagement is challenging. What this paper adds? A translational research strategy (to share research‐informed‐knowledge with stakeholders) and internet‐mediated research (to gather data from stakeholders) combine effectively for use within the early years sector to disseminate research knowledge to parents and support home learning environments. The high levels of technology readiness of early years educators and parents in England provides opportunities for disseminating information and improving home learning environments. Accessing and sharing documents online may involve parents but is insufficient to engage. Implications for practice and/or policy Early years settings need to be more proactive in engaging with parents online. Technology provides opportunities to develop interaction and the sharing of information with parents. Digital media should be used as additional communication strategies and should not replace the fundamental importance of face‐to‐face‐interaction.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** Licence for VoR version of this article:
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital media, early education, internet‐mediated research, parental engagement, translational research, coronavirus
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1139 Early childhood education
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Departments > Education
SWORD Depositor: Publications Router Jisc
Depositing User: Publications Router Jisc
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2021 13:08
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2021 13:06

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