There are many reasons why you should use technology in the classroom. There are also disadvantages too.
My personal reason is that technology to use in the classroom should:
- Support subject learning
- Technology can be used as a tool for learning other than a media for fun and;
- Enable you to develop student ICT capability and ICT literacy alongside subject learning.
Below I have outlined what I consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of technology in the classroom. In general, school technology should always be used by students as a tool for learning and a means to an end by teachers. It should never be used just because it is there. Additionally, simple exposure to technology in the classroom and the haphazard teaching of ICT skills will not sufficiently develop a child's ICT capability either when it is integrated in the curriculum or as a subject itself.
Here are what I consider the pros and cons to technology in the classroom.
E-learning or Online Learning
The presence of ICT in education allows for new ways of learning for students and teachers.
ICT brings inclusion
Students with special needs are no longer at a disadvantage as they have access to essential material and special ICT tools can be used by students to make use of ICT for their own educational needs.
ICT promotes higher-order thinking skills
One of the key skills for the 21st century which includes evaluating, planning, monitoring, and reflecting to name a few.
ICT enhances subject learning
It is well known these days that the use of ICT in education adds a lot of value to key learning areas like literacy and numeracy.
Both are 21st-century skills that are best developed whilst ICT remains transparent in the background of subject learning.
ICT use encourages collaboration
ICT naturally brings children together where they can talk and discuss what they are doing for their work and this in turn, opens up avenues for communication thus leading to language development.
ICT use motivates learning
Society's demands for new technology has not left out children and their needs. Children are fascinated with technology and it encourages and motivates them to learn in the classroom.
ICT in education improves engagement and knowledge retention
When ICT is integrated into lessons, students become more engaged in their work. This is because technology provides different opportunities to make it more fun and enjoyable in terms of teaching the same things in different ways
ICT use allows for effective Differentiation Instruction with technology
We all learn differently at different rates and styles and technology provide opportunities for this to occur.
ICT integration is a key part of the national curriculum
The integration of digital technologies or ICT is a significant part of the Australian Curriculum for example, and this is a trend that many global governments are taking up as they begin to see the significance of ICT in education.
Disadvantages of the technology to use in the Classroom
In my opinion, there are much fewer disadvantages of technology in the classroom.
Technology use in the classroom can be a distraction
True! Students may appear usefully occupied with the task when in fact they are working very inefficiently and failing to exploit the potential of ICT. They may divert from the intended task without it being too obvious. However, this is the reason why you should monitor technology to use in the classroom in addition to observing their learning progression in ICT.
Technology can detract students from social interactions
Oh no! This is not true. Some believe it is, however, you need to remember that technology in the classroom has a way of bringing students together. It has a natural ability to promote collaboration amongst students and also, there are many ways for students to socially interact with technology in the classroom like blogs. Do I need to go….?
Technology can foster cheating
This is perhaps true. Although, there are many ways or tools should I say for teachers to prevent this. Tools such as Turnitin etc. If this is referring to the Internet….then you should also think it no different than a student passing on a book to another student and pointing out the same lines.
Not all students have equal access
Out of all the cons, this may be more valid and hold more weight. If there is one thing that a pandemic teaches governments is that technology at times like this, increase the digital divide.
As you can see, the advantages and disadvantages of using technology in the classroom are balanced in favour of the many opportunities that technology brings to teaching and learning. Despite this, for some change is not what is considered important to them as they cling to the teaching methods in primary school classroom practices that work the best for them.
For these people, the disadvantages of technology in the classroom have more weight and influence than the advantages of technology in the classroom and this is despite the continuing evidence that shows that if change does not occur in the classroom, those who favour the disadvantages the most will be left behind.
The pros and cons of technology in the classroom remain a deciding factor for many teachers in an online and digital world.
Navigating the Digital Playground: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Technology in Early Childhood Education
In today's digital world, technology has become an integral part of our lives, and its role in education is no exception. With the growing popularity of early childhood education programs, educators are faced with the challenge of integrating technology into their curriculum while ensuring that it does not hinder children's development. On one hand, technology can enhance learning experiences by providing interactive and engaging activities, allowing children to explore and discover new perspectives. On the other hand, excessive screen time has been linked to delayed language and social skills, obesity, and attention problems. As a highly skilled assistant who specializes in digital marketing, I understand the importance of striking a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of technology in early childhood education. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of technology in early childhood education and offer guidance on how to navigate the digital playground to create a healthy and enriching learning environment for young children.
The pros of technology in early childhood education
Technology can have profound benefits in early childhood education. For one thing, technology can provide more interactive and engaging experiences that can help children stay engaged and interested in learning. Educational apps and games can help children develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Moreover, technology can help children learn at their own pace, allowing them to explore and discover new concepts on their own.
Another benefit of technology in early childhood education is that it can provide access to a wide range of educational resources that may not be available in traditional classrooms. For example, children can learn about different cultures, languages, and traditions from all around the world through online videos, books, and games. Technology can also help children with special needs, providing them with alternative ways to communicate, learn, and interact with others.
Finally, technology can help children develop digital literacy skills that are becoming increasingly important in today's job market. By learning how to use different devices and software, children can develop critical skills that will be essential for their future success.
The cons of technology in early childhood education
While technology can provide many benefits, it also has some drawbacks that need to be considered. One of the main concerns is that excessive screen time may negatively impact children's physical, social, and emotional development. Studies have shown that children who spend more time in front of screens are more likely to experience obesity, sleep problems, and attention difficulties. Moreover, excessive screen time can hinder socialization and communication skills, which are essential for children's overall development.
Another concern is that technology may replace human interaction and play, which are critical for children's development. Children need to interact with other children and adults to develop social skills, empathy, and emotional regulation. Technology can also be addictive, and children may become too dependent on it for entertainment and stimulation.
Finally, technology can be a distraction from other important activities, such as reading, physical play, and outdoor exploration. Children need a variety of experiences to develop their creativity, imagination, and problem-solving skills.
The impact of technology on child development
The impact of technology on child development depends on several factors, such as the amount of screen time, the quality of the content, and the child's age and developmental stage. For young children, excessive screen time can interfere with the development of language, social, and motor skills. Babies and toddlers need face-to-face interactions with caregivers to learn how to communicate, regulate their emotions, and explore their environment.
For preschool-age children, technology can be a valuable tool for learning and exploration. However, it is essential to limit screen time and ensure that the content is developmentally appropriate. Children also need opportunities for physical play, socialization, and creative expression to develop well-rounded skills.
For older children, technology can provide more opportunities for self-directed learning and exploration. However, it is crucial to balance screen time with other activities and ensure that children are not using technology as a substitute for real-life experiences.
Balancing screen time with other activities
Balancing screen time with other activities is essential to ensure that children develop well-rounded skills and avoid the negative effects of excessive screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following guidelines for screen time:
- Infants (0-18 months): No screen time, except for video chatting with family and friends.
- Toddlers (18-24 months): Limited screen time (less than 1 hour per day) of high-quality programming with adult supervision.
- Preschoolers (2-5 years): 1 hour of high-quality programming per day, with adult supervision.
- School-age children (6 years and older): Consistent limits on screen time and the type of content, with a balance of physical activity, socialization, and creative play.
Parents and educators can also encourage children to engage in other activities, such as reading, playing outdoors, doing arts and crafts, and spending time with family and friends. These activities can help children develop essential skills and provide opportunities for socialization and creative expression.
Tips for implementing technology in early childhood education
When implementing technology in early childhood education, it is essential to consider the following tips:
- Choose developmentally appropriate content: The content should be engaging, interactive, and aligned with children's developmental needs and interests.
- Limit screen time: Set clear limits on screen time and ensure that children have plenty of opportunities for physical play, socialization, and creative expression.
- Provide adult supervision: Young children should use technology under adult supervision to ensure their safety and guide their learning experiences.
- Encourage active learning: Use technology to facilitate active learning experiences, such as problem-solving, exploration, and creativity.
- Foster collaboration and socialization: Use technology to facilitate collaboration and socialization among children, such as online games and virtual field trips.
Best practices for selecting and using technology in early childhood education
When selecting and using technology in early childhood education, it is essential to follow best practices, such as:
- Choose age-appropriate software and apps that align with children's needs and interests.
- Use technology to complement, not replace, real-life experiences and interactions.
- Provide a variety of activities that allow children to explore and discover different concepts and skills.
- Use technology to facilitate active learning experiences and problem-solving.
- Ensure that the technology is accessible and user-friendly for all children, including those with special needs.
- Provide clear guidelines and expectations for technology use, such as how to use the devices, when to use them, and what activities are allowed.
The Role of parents in technology use in early childhood education
Parents play a critical role in their children's technology use in early childhood education. They can support their children's learning experiences by:
- Setting clear limits on screen time and ensuring that children have plenty of opportunities for physical play, socialization, and creative expression.
- Choosing developmentally appropriate content and supervising their children's technology use to ensure their safety and guide their learning experiences.
- Using technology to facilitate active learning experiences and problem-solving.
- Encouraging collaboration and socialization among children through technology, such as online games and virtual field trips.
- Being a role model for responsible technology use and modeling healthy screen habits.
Addressing the digital divide in early childhood education
The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not. Addressing the digital divide in early childhood education is critical to ensure that all children have equal opportunities for learning and development. Some ways to address the digital divide include:
- Providing access to technology and internet resources in schools and libraries.
- Offering technology training and support for educators and families.
- Partnering with community organizations to provide technology resources and support for families in underserved areas.
- Investing in research and development of technology tools and resources that are accessible and affordable for all children.
Technology can provide many benefits for early childhood education, such as interactive and engaging experiences, access to educational resources, and development of digital literacy skills. However, excessive screen time and lack of socialization and play opportunities can negatively impact children's development. Balancing screen time with other activities, choosing developmentally appropriate content, and providing adult supervision are essential for creating a healthy and enriching learning environment for young children. By following best practices and addressing the digital divide, we can ensure that all children have equal opportunities for learning and development in the digital age.
What is ICT in Early Childhood Education?
This is an extract from my online PD for early childhood teachers on “How to support play based learning in early childhood education with digital technology”. You can join it as a stand-alone course for just $460 AUD or become a member of the ICT in Education Teacher Academy can pay just $5.99 AUD per month for all new and current online workshops for preschool teachers today.
As we are all surrounded by technological development and advancements today many of us including early childhood educators are aware that young children, having already been exposed to digital technologies, come to the doors of an early childhood centre with various degrees of expertise in using them.
It is for this reason that there is a general conception amongst these educators that they don’t need to know too much about what technologies exist for them and the technical competencies that is needed. They require the evidence-based early childhood pedagogies that will make a difference with them in the learning environment.
Nevertheless, understanding what technology is best for digital play in the early childhood learning environment is important and, in this section, I will show you not only how to select ICT tools for early childhood education that are developmentally appropriate, but also provide you with some examples of what is ICT in early childhood education.
What kinds of digital technologies are best?
We all live in a digitally rich and dominated society, so it is not surprising that the range of ICT tools and resources is constantly increasing. For you as an early childhood education practitioner, it means ensuring that young children are provided with a broad range of digital technology in early childhood education that reflects what children are seeing being used in their own communities.
Using Grown-up programs
It is always best to choose software, activities and games that are developmentally appropriate. Grown up programs can be included in your choices as they provide many ways for you to facilitate the use of software that will enable you to accomplish early learning goals.
This comes with the benefit that not only most of this software is freely available but is also generic and you may already have it. The other important aspect of this is that young children need to know how you use computers. On top of this fact is that you will be able to do a lot without purchasing expensive educational software for children.
Letting children see you type the weekly parent update in Microsoft Word and print out 20 copies of it is a great way to begin their learning journey. The digital play experience that you might set up for them could be perhaps a writing activity so the children could either dictate or type stories and notes to parents on Word and click Print to make their writing appear on paper.
Digital play in the early years can also go beyond such learning experiences with adult software. Further examples of how young children can play with Microsoft Word could include playing with the different fonts and sizes or with WordArt. The latest version of Word includes lots of other features such Icons, 3D models, drawing tools like that found in drawing and painting programs. I will get to this next!
An idea might be to let them dictate a story that you type in and then make all the Bs extra-large so the children can practice saying the B sound. This has great literacy and language development implications.
What about other Microsoft programs such as Excel? Well, you can use it to make lists and charts and graphs and change or add to them over a period of time.
Another example of digital play in the early years might include showing children how to do an Internet search for pictures. Think about letting them help you think of the keywords on a topic you are interested in looking up together. This kind of learning activity can be applied to play experiences such as ‘restaurant’ playing in one of their socio-dramatic play experiences. Play around with different keywords in the search engine to see if they will get more ideas.
A final advantage of such programs would be that they also aid in the development of Digital literacy in early childhood education. Most adult programs like the ones discussed are content-free and generic.
Apps and Software
Today, there is a great range of apps available on the market and they vary in their quality. Some apps also could restrict children’s play and creativity which can prevent them from developing their Digital literacy. In choosing apps, the same decision-making process should be used when deciding on software as they are one in the same but for different types of devices. For starters, the media marketed term ‘educational’ should be used with caution as some lack the key qualities such as being intellectually challenging, fun, and flexibility.
Drill and practice apps should also be avoided and usually come in the form of commercially made games. They provide more of a workbook-like experience. Apps that just require children to press a button can also just become boring and do not possess the right attributes of that of which would develop their capabilities in ICT through play in early childhood education.
According to The Education Hub (NZ), the apps that you need are the ones that support children’s curiosity, exploration and experimentation. It is said that these types of apps allow children to make meaning, discover for themselves and generate their own conclusions.
The attributes of these apps may involve:
- Creating stories;
- Contain simple animations or video.
Research (Miller, 2018 as cited in The Education Hub) has found that most children prefer those apps that are creative or entertaining. You also need to ensure that the app can meet the early learning goals of each individual child. They need to at the right level for the child.
Yet, it is important that you do not restrict the selection of digital apps on the basis of children’s developmental stage “because there are many products designed for adults and older children that have play value for young children, if they are provided with guidance and support” (The Education Hub, 2022).
There has also been extensive research on the impact of digital books and its impact on learning and development. However, it is hard to draw conclusions as many contextual and individual differences impact on children’s learning from books (The Education Hub, 2022).
The advantages that a digital book has over printed books is that they can be highly engaging for both toddlers and young children. This can lead to higher levels of attention, positive emotion and talk as well as better retention of new vocabulary. Research has also indicated that they can also have a greater impact on emergent literacy skills.
Digital animations within digital books have also been found to mediate and support children’s interactions thus enhancing their self-confidence and independence as readers. Additionally, digital books can also elicit more commentary on illustrations.
Other digital resources for play based learning
It is essential that any educational media that you choose must be open-ended, socially interactive and flexible while requiring communication and removing external evaluation. This is so that the digital resources that you use for play based learning are effective in their use.
Additionally, your selection must enable experiences and learning to unfold as a result of the child’s questions. Throughout this online workshop for preschool teachers I have discussed key strategies that needs to be applied in addition to the need for you as the adult to remain playful participants who listen, follow, and expand on the child’s discoveries rather than direct, instruct and restrict their explorations.
Deborah Rosenfeld (2022) from the Center for Children and Technology at EDC recommends the following media:
PBS Kids is a high quality educational software for children that is based on research early childhood learning. It comes with videos, apps, digital games and hands-on materials. Some of this has been curated and sequenced into lesson plans and curriculum units.
The resources included are designed to encourage playful interaction by asking questions, pausing for thinking, or prompting children to imagine how an idea relates to their own experience.
Maths and Science digital resources
First 8 Studios was also recommended by Rosenfeld as a media that has been designed to support early math and science discovery through apps. A recent addition to this resource is the Preschool Data Toolbox. This app provides six pre-made investigations and then allows for create-your-own investigations.
This app enables children to learn about what questions can be answered through data collection and provides scaffolding to support the data collection, representation, and analysis processes.
Maths exploration can be supported through such apps such as SolveMe Puzzles. It incorporates puzzles in early childhood that build the foundations of play based learning.
It is important to remember that play based learning in early childhood education is typically associated with hands-on games and activities. Digital play in the early years has the potential to be as active and playful as nondigital media.