Staying Connected: COVID-19 as a catalyst for innovation in early education practice


Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted children’s access to early care and education (ECE) programs. Such disruption stands to expand existing educational equity gaps. In response, examples of digital innovation to maintain social connections and continuity of learning in ECE have emerged. This project takes lessons from such innovations to document strategies that support connection between home and ECE programs, both within and outside times of crisis.

Project aims

  • identify what strategies were used during COVID-19 to supports connection between home and ECEC programs
  • understand how these strategies are accomplished during everyday practices
  • take the learnings from the innovations that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic to inform future practices to maintain and enhance engagement in early learning when children’s on-site attendance is limited or disrupted

Project design

This project applies mix-method designs and innovative analyses to document strategies that support connection between home and ECE programs. This qualitative research project has two components: semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and video footage of virtual early learning experiences. Semi-structured interviews will elicit stakeholder perspectives about the strategies they used to stay connected during COVID-19. Analysis will focus on identifying the range of strategies used, along with the barriers and benefits of these strategies. Video-recordings of virtual early learning experiences will document interactions between educators and children/carers as they participated in online, real-time virtual learning experiences. Analysis will provide knowledge about how interactions are accomplished during virtual early learning experiences. Learnings will be disseminated, and a library of practice exemplars established.

Activity plan for 2022

  • conduct interviews with educators
  • transcribe selected video recorded interactions
  • commence analysis of data


October 2021 – December 2024


Dr Sally Staton

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The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child acknowledges the First Australian owners of the lands on where we gather and pay our respects to the Elders, lores, customs and creation spirits of this country.