[Japan] "Keep On Playing!"--ICT utilization in ECEC (Part I) - Projects



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[Japan] "Keep On Playing!"--ICT utilization in ECEC (Part I)


Between March and May 2020, young children were requested to temporarily refrain from attending childcare facilities due to the government’s stay-at-home initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under such circumstances, childcare facilities tried various activities to stay connected with the families of these children under the slogan “Keep On Playing!” For example, some ECEC teachers created videos of singing songs or craft-making classes and posted them as on-demand contents on YouTube. Some tried maintaining communication with parents using video-meeting applications, such as “Zoom” and “Google Meet.” They supported those parents who were worried about their children being locked down at home and unable to play with their peers. At the same time, several issues became evident. The lag in establishing ICT network connecting childcare facilities and families became apparent. In addition, ECEC teachers who were unaware of how to stream information and create online educational materials were caught in confusion. Families also faced confusion when seeking necessary educational materials for their children and information on how to use them.

Considering these issues, we conducted research to confirm the academic significance of creating surroundings and frameworks for ICT utilization that may improve the quality of childcare and preschool education.

Japanese Chinese

Part I of this report will introduce our research under the theme of "Keep On Playing! - Development of the framework for ICT utilization in ECEC" (Project No. 21H00913). This research was awarded a grant-in-aid for scientific research (B) (general section) sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

This research aimed to develop a framework for ICT utilization in ECEC as one of the methods to improve the quality of childcare under the theme "Keep On Playing!" To achieve this, we first collected case examples of ICT utilization that connected childcare facilities and families and enhanced children's direct experiences and creative activities in childcare. We then analyzed the common factors and created summarized guidelines. Second, we solicited expert opinions from various fields, such as educational technology, child education, developmental psychology, and medical science. Third, based on these opinions and summarized guidelines, we attempted to realize the following missions in childcare: 1) visualization of ECEC teachers' information literacy, 2) development of a learning website to nurture ECEC teachers' information literacy, 3) establishment of a certification system for childcare facilities' ICT utilization, 4) visualization of parents' information literacy, and 5) development of a learning website to nurture parents' information literacy.

Part I explains the first stage to create summarized guidelines, as mentioned above. To formulate the "Guidebook for ICT surroundings and utilization that connect childcare facilities and families," we first surveyed the actual usage of ICT that connects childcare facilities and families. Then, we analyzed the results data and summarized the effects and issues of ICT utilization.(1)

More specifically, we conducted a questionnaire survey on the actual conditions of childcare facilities' ICT surroundings that connect them with families. Based on the survey results, we identified the effects and issues of ICT utilization. The survey targeted 1,000 kindergartens and ECEC centers nationwide (including public and private facilities in various locations and of varying sizes). We obtained responses from 333 facilities in the period from late June to early August 2021 (total valid responses = 329, made up of 100 from public facilities and 229 from private facilities).

In this report, I will describe the efforts of kindergartens and ECEC centers to provide video streaming and online ECEC activities for children who could not attend their usual facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the percentage of facilities that provided video lessons or online ECEC activities during lockdown was relatively low (33.8%).

Similarly, the percentage of those that continued to provide videos or online ECEC activities after they reopened was also low (23.7%).

In addition, we conducted a factor analysis and confirmed the following factors that enhanced the effects of video lessons, online ECEC activities, and childcare systems. That is, "connection between childcare facilities and families," "response to parents' inquiries," and "enhancement of ICT skills." In addition, the following factors are identified as underlying issues: "skills for ICT utilization," "families' understanding of ICT utilization," and "adequate surroundings for ICT utilization." In some questionnaire items, significant differences between public and private childcare facilities were identified, such as "ECEC teachers do not have enough spare time to attend ICT training" and "facilities' internet bandwidth is insufficient to view video streaming and receiving contents online." The survey results indicate that childcare facilities fully understand the positive effects of video lessons, online ECEC activities, and administrative systems. Still, they struggle to provide adequate ICT network surroundings or to ensure teachers' capacity to utilize information resources as well as sufficient operating skills.

Furthermore, another survey was conducted to confirm the necessity of teachers' information literacy, including ICT skills, which is essential to take advantage of an ICT environment as mentioned above.(2)

This survey examined the degree to which teachers' ICT skills are used in ECEC activities and identified the component elements of information literacy required for ECEC teachers. The term "information literacy" was defined as the "ability to collect information necessary for childcare using computers and other IT devices as needed; organize, edit, disseminate, and effectively utilize such information during their ECEC activities; and understand and support children's ICT use." We temporarily determined 17 component elements for such information literacy based on the checklist for teachers' ICT instruction ability published by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Responses were obtained from teachers attending a license renewal course and their feedback about the conception of "information literacy."

Information distribution skills such as online and on-demand streaming were also added to the component elements based on the opinions of childcare facility directors and teachers who had advanced ability in utilizing ICT in ECEC settings. In this way, the 25 component elements for information literacy were finalized.

Next, these elements were included in a national questionnaire survey conducted by Macromill Inc., a marketing research company, aimed at ECEC teachers working at kindergartens and ECEC centers. The questionnaire used 4-point scales from "1. Not at all" to "4. Very well," and valid responses were obtained from 321 teachers (10 male and 311 female).

The result of the analysis confirmed four factors that affect the component elements of teachers' information literacy: namely, the skill to instruct children how to use ICT, the skill to utilize information by ICT, the skill to distribute childcare information online, and the skill to use basic ICT devices. There was no difference by working experience in years.

At the same time, we conducted a preliminary survey for the preparation of educational materials to nurture parental skills that promote children's positive usage of ICT. This survey includes questions about whether they "actively collect childrearing information using the Internet and SNS messages" and "communicate with ECEC teachers using a smartphone (tablet) or PC to build a close relationship."(3) This survey was also conducted by Macromill Inc. nationwide, targeting parents whose first child was between three and six years old. Consequently, 824 samples were obtained.

As a result of factor and cluster analyses on their usage status and skills, the factor of "parental skill to utilize ICT" (Q2) was divided into three types: "High-skill group" (369), "Average-skill group" (362), and "Low-skill group" (93). Table 1 shows the results of "information literacy (Q3-Q6)" by type.

Table 1: Relationship between "parental skill to utilize ICT" (Q2) and "information literacy" (Q3-Q6) projects_ecec_2023_05_01.png

Source: "A preliminary survey for the preparation of parental educational materials concerning young children's ICT use" (2022 Spring National Conference Reports by the Japan Society for Educational Technology. pp.165-166, March 20, 2022)

The average value of each item is significantly greater, in the order of: The high group > the average group > the low group, apart from the factor of "Information exchange for childrearing" (Q3-F2), "Difficulties and disadvantages of online use" (Q4-F2), and "Non-interference" (Q3-F2). When looking at each item, "Q5: Ability to support children's ICT use" shows lower scores in "self-esteem," "empathy・prosocial skill," and "cooperativity" than intellectual educational support, indicating insufficient support. Considering these results, developing educational materials to nurture parental skills that appropriately promote children's ICT use is a challenge for the future. In Part II, I will explain the details of the "Guidebook for ICT surroundings and utilization that connect childcare facilities and families" based on the summarized guidelines. I will also introduce the "Information Literacy Checklist" for ECEC teachers, the "IT Utilization Checklist" for childcare facilities, and the "ICT Certification System," which we have developed based on our survey.


  • (1) "Effects and anxiety of information provision by utilizing ICT that connects kindergartens and homes." 2021 2nd Study Meeting Reports, The Study Committee of the Japan Association for Educational Media Study, pp.34-37, February 27, 2022.
  • (2) "Extraction of component elements relating to the information literacy of nursery teachers." 2022 Spring National Conference Reports. The Japan Society for Educational Technology. pp.299-300, March 20, 2022.
  • (3) "A preliminary survey for the preparation of parental educational materials concerning young children's ICT use." 2022 Spring National Conference Reports. The Japan Society for Educational Technology. pp.165-166, March 20, 2022.

  • Research Investigators

    • Hiroshi Hotta, Sonoda Women's University
    • Yoichi Sakakihara, Ochanomizu University
    • Tomomi Sato, Aichi Shukutoku University
    • Koichi Yoshizaki, Oita University
    • Takayuki Konno, Meisei University
    • Taiichiro Okubayashi, Osaka University
    • Hirotsugu Tazume, Kyoto University of Education
    • Ayumi Sato, Shimane University
    • Aiping Liu, Child Research Net (CRN)
    • Junko Ogawa, Child Research Net (CRN)
    • Keiko Katsumi, Angel Academy, Inc., Angel Nursery School.

Hiroshi_Hotta.jpg Hiroshi Hotta

Professor Hotta was born in 1962 in Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, and graduated from the Faculty of Informatics, Kansai University Graduate School. He is currently a professor at the Faculty of Human Education, Sonoda Women's University. He specializes in education technology and media education. He has been working on developing educational curricula and methodologies adopted for informatization in child education, ranging from preschool to secondary education. He has also conducted research on early childhood education and media, and has been sponsored by the scientific research fund for many years.
He is currently engaged in the collaborative research project "Keep On Playing: development of the framework for ICT utilization in ECEC" (as Principal Investigator); Minoh city's "project to promote the utilization of advanced technologies and educational data for future school/educational settings" (as Academic Expert); the "educational environment reinforcement project utilizing the functions of educational facilities for young children's learning" at Nanatsumatsu Youchien sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (as Research Committee Member); and the "ICT utilization educational advisor" sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
His main publications include "Young Children and Media" and "GIGA School Program: a classroom of early elementary school children promoting the utilization of ICT under the theme of One Device for One Student."