Great ICT Learning Tools for Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education

By Michael Hilkemeijer

 

Top list of ICT tools for teaching and learning

 

Many ICT tools in education can be used from early childhood to secondary education. The reason why is because many of them are what is called generic ICT tools used in classroom teaching. This brings great value to you as a teacher, particularly in primary education, as your goal should be to enable children to become so focused on using ICT as tool to achieve other outcomes, that they hardly notice they are using the technology itself. Making technology transparent is what developing student ICT capability is all about.

So the list that follows encompasses ICT tools used in classroom teaching that meet this criterion – they are content-free, generic, readily available in all sectors of education, but importantly they significantly allow students to have full control over the technology (hardware and software), they can develop their higher order thinking skills as it also allows for a high level of decision making on behalf of the children, and finally, they do challenge students intellectually.

Some ICT tools in education do not do this. For example, what is known as Integrated Learning Systems (ILS) or subject specific software don’t do this. They are fantastic for subjects such as literacy and numeracy and if this is your objective then it’s fine. However, technology controls everything. Not the student. Most even enable teachers to develop ICT capability.

Here is my list of ICT tools used in classroom teaching. I will begin from the foundation and discuss digital technology in early childhood education.

 

Software programs

Ideal programs for young children should be that adults also use. I am not talking about sophisticated programs. More to do with everyday software programs like word processors and desktop publishers, drawing and painting programs even spreadsheets.

You might ask, what about language literacy and early childhood education? Word processors contribute considerably to the writing process. You can help children to plan and draft ideas, editing, proofreading, and presenting. Using word processors is, therefore, closely associated with language and literacy work at all levels.

 

Digital cameras

As an early childhood teacher, you too can use digital cameras to display on walls special moments in children’s learning. However, for young children, it is possible to imagine how they can enhance and improve the quality of their role play.

 

Beebots

Programmable toys enable children full control over technology as they can control what and where they go. Beebots is just one example many ECEC use.

 

Computers and the Internet

An obvious choice as a form of digital technology in early childhood education. Installing the right software on the computer will go a long way. The Internet is great for looking up information on a child’s interest and along the way, you can educate them on the best practices to do so.

 

Now for ICT in the primary classroom and things are very similar for a very important reason. For progression and continuity in ICT capability is to occur then both the teaching practices and ICT tools used in classroom teaching must be similar otherwise children will experience a very disconnected learning path. It is important to only use more sophisticated software if the curriculum requires it. You will not be enabling progression in ICT capability otherwise.

There are many benefits of using ICT in the primary classroom and the one that resonates the most is that it enables you to develop student ICT capability in meaningful contexts.

So in addition to those discussed for early childhood, we have the following ICT tools used in classroom teaching.

 

Graphing programs

Graphical representations of data are everywhere. Young children are constantly exposed to information in this manner. If they are to interpret this in a meaningful way then they need to develop appropriate skills, knowledge, and understanding. You need to select the appropriate opportunities in which they can facilitate, enhance and extend children’s learning.

 

Databases and Spreadsheets

Both have relevance and applications across the primary curriculum and offer you excellent chances to develop student ICT capability when you model their appropriate use of ICT and demonstrate or intervene to assist a child to identify particular data. You have the opportunity to make explicit links between children’s previous experiences and new learning across a range of contexts.

 

Multimedia presentation programs

Ideal for literacy learning in the classroom, programs such as MS PowerPoint provide ICT examples in the classroom that supplement and support an oral presentation by showing visually the structuring of ideas in a more effective way than is usually possible with a traditional board.

 

Web creation

You may be surprised, but you can even create a simple web page using MS Word. That’s right. In fact, it is another form of word processing. Only with hyperlinks. There is a lot of value in the process of producing web pages. Can you think of the ICT techniques that can be taught all within meaningful contexts like geography, literacy and so on.

 

Coding Programs

You can embed coding programs into learning areas such as mathematics, literacy, geography. 

 

 

Language, Literacy and Early Childhood

Language development in early childhood education is a critical part of child learning and development. Enriched language environments can play a crucial role in ensuring that young children are able to develop the literacy and language skills needed to thrive today.

When using technology in early childhood education, the development of language in early childhood education can be enhanced considerably given the right instructional decisions are made.

Here are my strategies for language development in early childhood education when using ICT tools in early childhood.

 

Talking Word Processor

This ICT tool supports children’s experimentation as they play with language.

 

Word Processors

Widely used among children and adults, word processing is closely associated with literacy and language development at all levels. They also offer possibilities for children to compose and write without needing to have mastered the production of letters without hand.

 

Computers

Providing ‘print rich’ environments with printers can provide a fantastic example to development language. The props add interest and basic literacy skills to children’s play, and decisions involved in making them – what size, what colour, what words – give children more opportunities to use language.

 

 

 

Drawing and Painting programs

Children can use simple generic software to draw images to communicate. The communication of information in cartoon-type format can be particularly enhanced using graphics software.

 

Digital Cameras

Such an ICT device can in itself be an engrossing and motivating catalyst for learning. If you plan the correct intervention, you can help it become all kinds of role play. Well planned, purpose intervention by you will engage children in the learning process and help them make progress in their technological literacy and ICT capability.

 

Video recorders and audio recorders

Children who are not yet writing can be recorded on video as they tell their story. Alternatively, they can dictate the words to go with their pictures when they are storytelling.

 

Any key strategies for language development in early childhood should include well organised and well planned stimulating learning experiences. The ICT objects, activities and programs provided should be planned with sensitivity and understanding. An important factor to remember is that all levels of planning documentation should include ICT as a matter of course.

Good planning will lead to leading questions and suggestions for you as a teacher to extend any theme into an ICT direction as part of the natural flow.

 

Talking books

ICT tools in early childhood can also offer many texts which combine speech and words. By doing this, it reinforces the link between written and spoken text. What you need to decide as an early childhood teacher is whether the speech in a particular story actually models speech you want the children to use. Always approach these with a certain amount of caution.

Other ICT tools in earl childhood that promote literacy and language development include using multilink headphones, webcams, CCTV cameras, tape recorders, walkie-talkies, telephones etc. to encourage the development of speaking and listening skills.

 

Other key strategies for language development in early childhood might involve children using puppets to retell stories and videotaping it to be shown to a large group at story time. This could enable children to develop their speaking skills and increase their self-esteem. If there is an interactive whiteboard available this can be used to develop writing skills on a larger scale.

 

These ICT tools used in classroom teaching with the exception of ‘talking books’ help to broaden children’s technological literacy. Through your ability to make sound instructional decisions the development of ICT capability can be achieved.

 

Today, while there are many ICT tools in education the development of ICT capability can only be achieved when they allow children full control over the technology, they are intellectually challenging, involve a high amount of decision making by children and are content-free.

 

The above ICT tools for teaching literacy and language development in early childhood ensure that this can occur. However, their use must go beyond simple exposure of ICT if you are to harness the full potential of ICT in early childhood education.

So build on your expertise of ICT in the classroom now and join colleagues in this course today.

Review the book on language literacy and early childhood education today.

ICT examples in the classroom

 

 

These ICT examples in the classroom are symbolic of what can be found in much software and it is here where you will find a lot of value. Your familiarity in the programs will go a long way in deciding when students need help or when they are ready to move onto new ICT techniques. Using ICT tools in education is about effectively integrating them into meaningful contexts thus developing their ICT capability.

I explain a lot about how to use ICT in the classroom in my 4 hour online workshop for primary teachers. Having knowledge of these ICT tools used in classroom teaching is important, however, it is much more important to have a working knowledge of how to ensure that they become transparent in student learning contexts.

How ICT tools can be used in learning is about imagining the potential for learning within the context that it will be taught. The key teacher takeaways gained in this NESA and TQI accredited online course include:

 

ICT Teaching Strategies for Primary School Teachers - Online Workshop

  • Analyse the situation
  • Understand how students learn with ICT
  • Practice ICT teaching strategies for primary school classrooms
  • Facilitate student capabilities in ICT
  • Develop a whole school approach to ICT capability
  • Select the appropriate ICT tools to use in the classroom
  • Support ICT capability development across key learning areas
  • Create an inclusive technology-rich learning environment

 

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