By Michael Hilkemeijer
In the early learning environment, inquiry based learning is fundamental in helping children develop meaning through the vital skill of questioning. Dr Faith Rogow is a leading expert on inquiry based learning with technology integration in early childhood education. She puts forward a number of key early childhood pedagogies that you can apply today.
Pedagogies for Inquiry Learning in Preschool
In the world that we live in, dominated by digital technology, there are many things that need to be solved and all of this is really just a screw that is needed to be screwed (Faith Rogow). Today, when we think about digital technology in early childhood education, that’s the way we approach technology.
When I co-hosted with Dr Faith Rogow she provided many examples of inquiry based teaching strategies in early childhood education with digital technology.
She discussed how you first needed to start with ‘intention’ which is task before technology. Start by looking at what, when, how and why, how do we use technology tools to help whatever our educational goals are, and what's our task.
Media literacy covers all this as today young children can listen to a newspaper, watch a magazine, see a phone call, talk to millions of people at time and hold a library in their hands. You need to start by thinking or having a conversation with children then enabling them to learn about and seek out credible sources of information.
Early Childhood Pedagogies
Faith continues in her presentation pointing out that as an educator you need to ensure that you ‘frame’ the challenges as educational (not public health), illiteracy (not media reform), and child-centred (not media-centred). Inquiry based teaching strategies such as this is NOT helpful if you want to teach young children to be critical thinkers and apply this to media, or apply this to screens, or to the digital technology that they are using.
This framing is the ideal inquiry based teaching strategies to apply in the classroom. Change your frame of mind when approaching the integration of digital technology in early childhood education. Do not try to figure out how to limit exposure to digital technology.
The question that you should be asking is “how do I make young children literate in the digital world in which they live in?”
You need to give them the skills they need in order to get around this.
Media Literacy competencies
You really need to map out what you believe the skillsets will be. The first one which is probably the most familiar is ‘access’ – teaching children to use digital technology. Can they use the computer or tablet computer? Do they know how to use this particular software?
The second skill set that you need to think about is enabling young children to reflect on the effects of media on themselves and on other people. Part of this is helping children to become aware of their own bodies when using media. This way they will start to get a sense of thinking like “I need to take a break now” or “I need to move”.
These are the kind of questions that you can help young children to think about on a routine basis and habit is essentially what you are trying to teach at this early age.
The best early childhood pedagogy for this would be for you to model this anytime that they are sedentary, not just when they are using digital technology in early childhood education.
Additionally, you would need to help them to comprehend the overt messages or the overt, what they are actually listening to. Evaluating is a piece of it. Is what I'm choosing to use for this the right tool for the task, for instance?
Attending also plays a role and so you need to teach them the skills that they need so that they can pay attention to the technology and media in their world.
You want children to know that all media is constructed and that it is shaped by us. People use their individual skills, beliefs, and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.
So these are the best early childhood pedagogies that you can apply through inquiry-based learning in early childhood education today.
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