By Michael Hilkemeijer
Setting goals is about:
- clear learning objectives,
- having high expectations and
- supporting the development of ICT capability.
They must explain what the students need to understand and what they must be able to do.
All this while providing children with contexts that stimulate learning in other subjects as well.
By doing this, you will be able to maximise the learning potential of ICT in early childhood education.
How can this be achieved when planning to integrate technology in early childhood education?
Clear Learning Objectives
In any learning context, it may be a challenge at times to set clear learning objectives when integrating ICT in the curriculum.
Write down these ideas.
Integrating technology in the early learning curriculum is not about just exposing young children to more technology.
Research has indicated that the lack of intellectual challenge found in mediocre lessons focusing on little more than ICT skills and techniques is likely to continue the trend of ICT becoming endangered of ceasing to become a serious medium for learning.
If you decide to use ICT in the curriculum then you need to …
Decide on the role of ICT
Firstly, decide whether you ARE going to develop ICT capability or if you are just going to support learning in another area of the curriculum.
Or do Both! Which I strongly encourage you to strive for.
View ICT as a tool for learning
Secondly, if you desire to successfully integrate ICT in early childhood education then you must understand that ICT must be viewed as a tool for learning and NOT as an ‘add on’ to the curriculum.
Additionally, if children are to use ICT as a tool, then it must be something that they have full control over.
So the children need to be shown how to use the equipment so that they can become independent in their choices and uses.
Furthermore, if you are to set future learning intentions then you will also need to ensure that there are opportunities to assess child ICT capabilities in your early learning environment.
Monitor the problem solving
Finally, it is not only inevitable that the subject learning objectives overshadow those for ICT capability it is essential that they do.
However, as a teacher, you should be constantly monitoring the way the children are solving the problem and doing the tasks.
This will help determine if you need to show them new or more efficient methods of using ICT to achieve the learning intentions.
This is about high expectations of children’s use of ICT in and out of school.
The level of expectation that you set will have an impact on the way that you stimulate and structure learning for them.
And this can influence your appreciation of the problems that they are likely to experience and your planned strategies to deal with them.
It means knowing where the children are up to in the first place when they first enter your early learning environment.
This is why in my full implementation early childhood online course, I discuss at length how you can establish a starting point with parents and children.
You need to effectively locate the children’s ICT knowledge and experience through conversation.
It needs to be mapped accurately by reference to the learners and what they bring to the setting.
Additionally, you need to set high expectations that will inspire, motivate and challenge children.
This can be achieved if you:
- establish a safe and stimulating environment for young children rooted in mutual respect;
- set goals that stretch and challenge children of all backgrounds, abilities, and dispositions;
- demonstrate consistently the positive attitudes, values, and behaviour that are expected of children.
By following these steps, you will be able to set clear learning goals for the children in your early learning environment when integrating ICT in early childhood education.