By Michael Hilkemeijer
In an intentionally, well-planned, and developmentally appropriate classroom, the use of digital technology in preschool activities must always be child-initiated. This ensures that you are responding to children’s technology interests, skills, and abilities.
Technology use in early childhood education should never outshine or replace any other early childhood learning experience or opportunities.
It is all about balance!
What you need to decide is whether you are going to use technology in preschool activities to enhance the learning area, develop their ICT capability or both. This would be the most appropriate option and it would mean ensuring that it is integrated into a meaningful and purpose-driven learning activity in such a way that the children become so focused on using ICT as a tool to achieve other outcomes that they hardly notice that they are using technology itself.
It should also never stand out among other learning experiences.
Here are 10 of the best ways technology can be integrated today.
The Best 10 practices for integrating digital technology
- When integrating technology in preschool activities practice intentional teaching practices. This also involves incorporating digital technology into weekly, monthly and yearly planning for the group and for individual children.
- Be responsive and integrate digital technology into many interest areas in the classroom in addition to offering choices with clear objectives.
- Integrate digital technology in preschool activities when they are embedded within meaningful contexts and when they add value to the learning.
- Use software or apps that help children meet curriculum learning objectives, meet program and state standards, and lead to deeper understanding.
- Select a range of digital technology (hardware and software) that promotes creativity in early childhood education and offers multiple divergent learning paths.
- Balance teacher-facilitated technology activities with those that are child-initiated and independent.
- Balance child-initiated independent technology learning activities with those that involve small and large groups and collaboration.
- Extend the learning children initiate during choice time by offering the technology as an option to enhance their experiences.
- It will be important to ensure that you are able to have a system in place to track children’s technology use in early childhood education. This will ensure that they are spending the appropriate amounts of time engaging in a range of digital technology choices.
- Additionally, have systems in place such as the ‘Digital Play Framework’ to assess children’s learning when they are engaging with digital technology in early childhood education. It will help you to determine if they are meeting appropriate learning outcomes and objectives.
(Simon & Nemeth, 2012)