Many ICT tools that are appropriate for children in early childhood education centres are similar to those used by adults and older children throughout school. The reason for this is that we if want to prepare children for their future, they need to learn how to use these effectively at an early stage.
Here is a list of meaningful ICT tools in Early Childhood:
By programming a toy to behave a certain way, children are able to view various problems from a toy’s perspective. However, a key benefit of using technology such as this is that it has functional transparency and this supports children to quickly learn how to program them.
Examples include Beebots, Roamer and Pixies.
DIGITAL IMAGES & DIGITAL CAMERAS
Digital cameras can provide more focus on activities as children can take pictures of themselves and their environments. This can encourage them to take more photos of things. You may also find that each time they do take a photo of something, that they can actually provide an explanation of why they were choosing to take a particular shot. In these situations, the camera helps to clarify and consolidate the children’s learning.
Continuing on with the digital images theme this program and others similar to it can provide children with a multimedia experience they will enjoy and be able to develop their creativity skills. These programs have colour, movement and sound so it is no surprise that it is quite appealing. It is just as appealing though for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. PowerPoint can make learning meaningful and relevant. With the use of transition effects, it can reveal a favourite character with a single touch by using it with the Interactive Whiteboard.
Interactive Whiteboards and Smartboards
These are especially appropriate for young children because they operate through finger touch. Children can make drawings, rub them out and move objects together as I mentioned earlier, resize them. It is the large screen that allows for greater collaboration. For this reason, it is important that you become familiar with all its tools.
I already mentioned the potential with the use of IWBs. These programs allow children to do things they would not be able to do outside of the software. With the tools they provide they deliver ‘clean’ art that children can instantly rub out, undo or start all over again! Additionally, they can mix media combining both digital and traditional media.
Your children will enjoy exploring their own playful uses of the video camera so it is important to give them time to achieve this. Try not to structure their uses too soon or too often.
These tools are as cheap if not cheaper to use than digital cameras. If you add a USB extension lead to the webcam it can be moved quite a distance from the computer. You will find that they usually have a button on them for taking still images, if not children can use the webcam software to take photos of video.
ICT Tools and Strategies for Primary Ed
Primary education is particularly responsible for the development of ICT capability from Foundation levels to Level 4 in Year 6. Within this time, effective learning with ICT in the lower primary needs to pick up the slack from the teachers using ICT in early childhood education such as that in preschools, child care and kindergarten in places like Queensland, Australia.
The learning progression and continuity in ICT capability must occur throughout all key learning areas as ICT has been proven to enhance student learning in meaningful and context-driven activities.
Evaluating ICT teaching and learning
As a primary teacher, you should always consider whether the ICT activity is appropriate within the curriculum as a whole. An important rule of thumb to remember is to always ensure that any ICT tasks should never involve the repetition of ICT techniques just for the sake of practicing unless there is a specific need. ICT used in classroom teaching should also not be used merely to present work in a different way.
You can take either of these two approaches. You can either reflect on the effectiveness of the particular activity or unit of work in relation to objectives for developing ICT capability and for other learning. Or you can reflect on the overall evaluation of the students have progressed during the course of a year in relation to expectations.
Evaluating ICT tools
To evaluate educational potential of ICT tools used in classroom teaching you can consider:
- What features and facilities does the software provide which might be used for extending student learning?
- How easy are these features to use?
- Will the students need to be instructed before or during their use of the software?
- What is the educational purpose underlying the student’s use of the software (e.g. To develop ICT capability? To learn how to use the software? To use the software as a means to an end? To develop communication skills and knowledge?)
Planning for an integrated approach in using ICT in teaching
The role of ICT in primary education is a complex but a powerful one when using ICT in teaching and learning. If you are to effectively integrate ICT into the curriculum, then you will need a good understanding of ICT concepts and their relation to other areas of the curriculum.
There are close relationships between ICT capability and knowledge, skills and understanding in other key learning areas as is evident in the curriculum. With this approach, you as a primary teacher can foster these ICT teaching strategies for primary school that emphasise higher order skills.
The most effective way to develop students’ ICT capability is to provide them with meaningful learning activities that are embedded in purposeful subject-related contexts. For example, instead of just trying to teach children how to use a database, you can teach them the knowledge of database principles and processes and skills required to manipulate data whilst learning something useful about a subject. This is the general principle when developing ICT capability.
Planning for progression in ICT capability continues to be a key issue facing primary teachers today as they work on ways to understand how they can create ICT activities that can help the children develop ICT capabilities.
An important part of your lesson planning will be to be cognisant of the need to know about the children’s current level of ICT capability in order to pursue opportunities to exploit and extend it. You must also look at the context of the features of ICT which make it an ICT tool for learning. Decide on whether it is appropriate to the learning outcome.
This is my list of ICT tools for learning – Technology and teaching strategies that need to be embedded in Primary education to not only to ensure that ICT capability is facilitated, but for you to meet the curriculum requirements.
What makes these the best ICT tools for the classroom is the fact that:
- Intellectually challenging.
- Develop high order thinking skills.
- Promote the development ICT capability.
- Allow students to have full control over them.
Word processing not only can enhance literacy in English lessons, but can enhance literacy throughout all key learning areas. It is a basic and important skill to have not just throughout formal schooling but later in the workforce. Typing skills, saving documents and knowing how to send a document to the printer are all associated with the use of the word processor.
Spreadsheets are undervalued by teachers at times despite useful for even key learning areas such as English. Besides being a great ICT tool for mathematics and science more this needs to be used throughout the curriculum.
Multimedia programs such as Keynote, PowerPoint and Prezi are commonly used in education settings as teachers often present lessons using them. They are also wonderful learning tools if used correctly to enable students to share their ideas and notes with others in the class. You can focus ICT techniques the students need and monitor their progress along the way.
Animation – Clay or Drawing
Creating animations has been one of my favourite projects in the past and has led me to undertaking animation courses. There are so many ICT techniques that students can learn and you as a teacher can promote the development higher order thinking skills as they manage, plan and evaluate their own work. Students can either work on 2D or 3D sequences of images.
Publishing programs such as MS Publisher can be a very useful ICT tool to learn during primary school. Much of the formats and templates tend to match learning outcomes. They also offer great opportunities to teach literacy with ICT. It too can be used right across the primary curriculum.
With ICT techniques such as filming and editing you can integrate technology in the classroom effectively by developing ICT capability throughout key learning areas. Students can write original scripts, create their own television series and even record their own speeches if they are unable to do so in front of the class themselves.
Students can use programs such as Dreamweaver, FrontPage or even MS Word to plan and create a website. Web design or creation is actually another form of word processor and this makes it possible for you to explore options to teach literacy across the curriculum. Activities could include class web pages, web pages for particular issues being covered in class and also individual web pages as an ePortfolio.
I encourage the use of instructional strategies using technology in the classroom such as the above in our accredited online workshop for teachers in elementary/primary school. The use of ICT tools used in classroom teaching must be supported by evidence based teaching strategies for primary school that develop student ICT capability. Expanding on the strategies already discussed, we provide practical and immediately actionable advice on the following:
- Optimising opportunities for development in key learning areas.
- Effectively facilitating student capabilities in ICT.
- Selecting appropriate ICT tools used in classroom teaching.
- Managing student transitions.
- Creating an inclusive classroom.
- Supporting ICT across key learning areas.
- Encouraging a whole school approach to ICT capability development.
- And practicing successful ICT teaching strategies in the classroom.
This course continues from our ECE workshop that focuses on ICT tools in early childhood. Titled "Harness Technology in Early Childhood Education Today", you will learn how to maximise the use of technology in preschool activities.