Hi! I’m Michael Hilkemeijer and I help educators successfully integrate digital technology in their learning environment.
And in this video, I am going to show you how ICT supports children’s learning.
Before I begin, there two things that you need to know.
Firstly, there was once a strong focus on Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
However, as technologies involving new innovative resources have emerged, the use of ICT is slowly being replaced with the distinction between digital and non-digital.
We are seeing an increased discussion of ‘smart resources’ and programmable artefacts which could be technologies in their own right or could appear broadly under the ‘digital’ banner.
Secondly, it is not what supports children’s learning, but how it can achieve this.
This is to do with supporting and scaffolding the use of digital resources to ensure that young children view the use of digital technology in early childhood education as a tool designed for a specific purpose.
That being said, the following is an outline of my new online PD for early childhood teachers that provides practical and immediately actionable advice on what research states are the best early childhood pedagogies for supporting digital technology in children’s learning.
You can find it in the member's area as part of my Academy today.
The first way that research shows how ICT can support learning is through literacy and language development.
Development is the most general education goal for earlier ages.
Literacy is an area of learning that the use of ICT could greatly enhance.
The benefits can be realised within the literacy curriculum and in most of the children’s learning activities.
ICT can help children observe, fix, memorise, describe and share their impressions.
One example that I provide in my online pd for preschool teachers is the use of digital storytelling in early childhood education.
In the course, I discuss how to implement digital storytelling in the classroom in addition to assessment considerations and teaching strategies to support children’s learning.
Creative play is about children discovering new connections and making new connections.
Promoting creativity can:
- Foster creativity
- Build your child’s confidence
- Help your child express feelings and learn communication skills
- Help your child develop, practise and improve coordination and motor skills
- Give your child a chance to practice decision-making, problem-solving and critical thinking
- Help your child find new ways of looking at things.
You can encourage creative play with ICT by:
- Provide ICT in ways that will support your early childhood pedagogy and your understanding of the nature of young children’s developing creativity.
- Provide children with a range of open-ended and meaningful ICT experiences with plenty of opportunities to explore and interact with others.
- Model using ICT creatively to cultivate an environment where creativity can shine.
Modelling using ICT is a key strategy that I expand upon in the online workshop for preschool teachers.
So what is an example?
One example is the use of drawing and painting programs or apps. This has implications for other key learning areas.
However, as I said in the beginning it is not the what but the how and in my course I will show you early childhood pedagogies to do with introducing software and apps to young children, demonstrating, intervening and implementing sustained shared thinking in these situations.
There has been much discussion about ensuring that there is a balance in the use of digital technology in early childhood education.
However, there are many benefits that ICT can bring to outdoor learning activities.
As an adult, you should these things that you see here.
- Offer a range of experiences and resources which are regularly monitored and refreshed to keep them safe and stimulating;
- Tune in to the children’s interests and interact with them to support and extend their learning and development, jointly engaging in problem-solving and sustained shared thinking;
- Respond to observed interests and plan new materials and experiences within the environment and reflect them;
- Monitor materials, children’s involvement and their own involvement with children to ensure they offer relevant experiences;
- Provide materials that reflect diversity in order to avoid stereotypical images or approaches;
- Evaluate their provision to ensure that everything is provided is of the highest quality;
- Support children’s confidence in themselves and their developing skills as they tackle new experiences and develop a sense of what they can do and what they will be able to do as they practise and meet the challenges in the environment
In my course, I will show how you can establish a starting point for using digital technology outdoors and give you practical information about the best practices to apply today.
Role play in early childhood education provides learning without failure for all young children. It is a fun way for them to learn about themselves, others and their environment. Throughout this period of time, they also acquire important skills that aid their cognitive and physical development.
It should give the children the opportunity to make sense of the world in which we live.
It should help them make sense of the increasingly digital world in which we now live.
Give young children the opportunity to handle the digital tools that they see in the world about them, experiment and take control of them and learn about these objects and their place in the world.
One strategy that you can apply is involving children in the setting up of the role play area.
Drop in some ICT tools and resources, working and non-working, toys or hand-made to encourage their imagination.
You could pay a visit to a local vet and have children make their own versions of the technology that they saw.
Another way in which digital technology supports children’s learning is in mathematical thinking and problem-solving.
Computers can assist even very young children to develop mathematical ideas, provided teachers are able to choose and use proper software tools to explore mathematical concepts and relationships, in a way that scaffolds and extends young children’s thinking.
ICT can provide a much richer context for children’s problem solving, open-ended mathematical problems, projects integrating math skills and mathematical experiments.
They also are helpful in extending school math beyond arithmetic and childish geometry to the mathematics of reasoning, communication, and mathematics used in computer science.
Graphics software is one example of technology in early childhood education that can be used to support mathematical thinking.
And spreadsheets are a great way to introduce patterns in numbers.
As I said at the beginning, the use of ICT in early childhood education is slowly being replaced with the distinction between digital and non-digital resources.
Play based learning is the preferred methodology for many early childhood educators and digital play allows you to facilitate learning beyond just the use of ICT in early childhood learning environments.
These are just some of the ways in which I go into more detail and discussion in relation to the best early childhood pedagogies within my online workshop.
So if you want to know more, I encourage you to visit my academy today and check out the range of online workshops for preschool teachers that I have that will further educate you on how ICT supports children’s learning today.
There are over 40 of them for you to choose from.
Or subscribe today to get my free course that will help you start in the right direction to successfully integrating technology in preschool activities now.
Meaningful Technology Integration Learning Environments
It wasn’t so long ago when the focus was on integrating Information and Communication Technology in early childhood education. This focus has now shifted to young children using digital technology in early childhood environments.
Meaningful technology integration in early childhood education occurs today when practitioners embed strategies in their early childhood environment that support digital play. However, the same practices and principles can be applied to digital play as with ICT in early childhood education as ICT ensures that all children regardless of ability or difficulty can be included in appropriate and meaningful learning opportunities.
Play is considered an important dimension of early childhood environments and digital play through young children interacting with ICT resources can promote their social, emotional, cognitive learning and motor development.
Planning and Implementing play-based learning
If there is to be meaningful technology integration in early childhood environments then it will be imperative that you plan to ensure that digital technologies are viewed as a tool to support and enhance teaching and learning and not simply as a skill to be learned and an ‘add-on’ to the curriculum.
The ideal early childhood learning environment is where ICT or any other digital technologies is used in an imaginative way to deliver the curriculum and is threaded through all the early learning goals of your curriculum and play experiences. This leads to the quality of what is being taught and learned being further developed and the effectiveness of the learning process is increased.
As with all planning, you should focus on specific skills to be taught and learnt, knowledge to be gained and understanding to be developed.
So, what are some examples of meaningful technology integration in early childhood education or digital play in the early years?
Creative development is in its own area of learning within the early learning curriculum. As an educator, you can observe creative acts by noticing how meaningful they are to the child. You will be able to view the level of engagement the child has with the process, the pleasure they take and their focus of their attention.
This is a good example of what meaningful technology integration in early childhood education is all about and you can try some of these ideas to help you get started today:
- Demonstrate on the computer how to make signs, lists, labels and envelopes etc for role play experiences;
- Model the use of drawing and painting software yourself to show how to make repeat patterns for example;
- Encourage children to record the process of activity with a webcam as they progress through it, documenting their learning;
- Tape white chalk onto a bee bot and draw with it on a black piece of paper.
Try these ideas today to make the use of digital technology in early childhood education more meaningful to young children now.
How to Transform your classroom?
The productive process of technology integration in early childhood education is not straightforward. It involves being able to imagine the potential of particular technologies for learning within the contexts in which it will be taught and take place.
It also requires for you as the early childhood teacher to take the risk of experimenting with ICT in early childhood learning environments and is to do with the here and now of the available technologies as opposed to looking to the future for the next big technological development that will somehow solve the problem of technology integration and digital play-based learning in early childhood activities.
This entire productive process can be started by a strong minded principal or early childhood teacher with one simple programmable toy or one digital camera and an ordinary computer.
In this online PD workshop for early childhood educators, I help you to understand this better by providing you with the expertise that you need in order to maximise the use of the available technology in your own work environment so that you will understand the value of having meaningful technology integration in early learning environments today.
I am going to take you through some key points that will get you started now.
What is integration?
To go on from what I discussed earlier, it is important to understand what technology integration is not and these points further squash any misconceptions in the early learning environment.
- Not the use of managed instructional software.
- Not children going to a computer lab to learn ICT skills.
- Not using the Internet to access educational games.
- Not using Integrated Learning Systems such as literacy software or drill and practice software day after day.
- Not replaces an early childhood teacher with a computer.
Meaningful technology integration in early learning environments is an instructional choice that generally requires collaboration and deliberate planning.
When early childhood teachers use technology to introduce, reinforce, extend, enrich, assess and remediate student mastery of curricular targets.
Also when you as the early childhood teacher develop creative, experimental and purposeful learning and play with ICT.
What are the benefits of a meaningful integration?
The benefits of integrating technology in early childhood education are very similar to that of its integration in other educational sectors such as primary education. For me and also for you, the ones that stand out the most include:
- It can develop ICT capabilities and digital literacies.
- It opens up new learning opportunities.
- It can build metacognitive abilities in children and help them ‘learn how to learn’.
- It allows children to engage positively in imaginative active learning.
- Offers feedback in a variety of forms.
- Motivating and encouraging.
You can read about the benefits of ICT in early childhood education in my blogs.
Now let’s look at what a developmentally appropriate digital classroom should look like.
Early Learning classroom environments
True integration of digital technology in early learning environments occurs when the use of technology is routine and ‘transparent’. That is when the children become so focused on using ICT as a tool to achieve other early learning outcomes that they hardly notice that they are using technology itself.
Achieving transparent routines means that they are a part of your unconscious action and this should be the goal of all early childhood teachers for their children – equipping the children with sufficient experience to enable them to use ICT without having to stop and think.
A meaning technology integration early learning environment would have evidence of technology integration to promote and document learning. For example:
- There would be digital photos of the children and their family.
- Teachers would document children’s block building with digital photos.
- Children would use laptops or a desktop computer.
- Digital microscopes would be present along with headphones and microphones.
Here are some tips to start today:
- Be intentional in your technology practice.
- Infuse technology into many interest areas in the classroom.
- Select an array of devices.
- Extend the learning children initiate during choice time by offering technology as an option.
- Develop a tracking system in your classroom in order for you to keep track of children’s capabilities with ICT.
What about the Tech?
Some I’ve already mentioned include:
- Digital cameras.
- Digital microscope.
- Document camera.
You might like to add:
- Laptops or desktops
- Tablet computers.
- Mobile phones
- Interactive whiteboards
Remembering that technology integration is about imagining the potential for learning of the available technology.
The possibilities are endless but the technology needs to be something that the children are familiar with in their lives and is up-to-date – No out of date tech please!
Preschool Technology Activities
Early childhood teachers can integrate a variety of existing and emerging technologies to support and facilitate children’s learning.
In intentional, well-planned and meaningful technology integration early learning environments technology experiences are integrated into child-initiated play.
Here are things to keep in mind.
- Digital technologies activities align well with a constructivist framework and a curriculum that supports learner-centred exploration.
- The choice of technology should be based on how well the ICT tools serves classroom learning and teaching needs.
- You need to ensure that you provide opportunities for all children to participate.
These are the things that will help you make up a meaning learning environment that is infused with digital technology and is child-centred.
In this online pd for early childhood teachers, I will show how to apply these practices in your early learning environment today by supporting you step-by-step in your instructional decision making and saving you time in your planning by providing activities that will maximise the use of digital technology.
Start these steps now in your early childhood learning environment.