The role of technology in early childhood education is significant due to the fact that children may already be technically competent in their use of ICT even before they enter your learning environment.
This makes your planning very important and you should provide them with developmentally appropriate technology or I should say, ICT, in their role play environments.
You may think that your school or centre does not or cannot afford the technology resources required.
Well, as you are about to find out in the below list, this is NOT the case.
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The effective integration of technology in early childhood education is NOT about the next big technological development to come around and solve your integration problems.
It is about the ‘here and now’ of the AVAILABLE technology and imagining its potential for learning.
Quality ICT Tools in early childhood education
For role play experiences, your choices for tech in early childhood can be broken down into 5 different categories:
- Technology that works;
- Technology that no longer works;
- Toy technologies that simulate the working of real technology;
- Toy technologies such as wooden washing machines and;
- Technologies that the children have made.
Why are these the best type of Tech in Early Childhood?
1. Made technologies allows more opportunities for learning
I personally like the last one because it is more engaging and creative than others. The children are a lot more invested in the technology that they make because they have spent time and effort in doing it.
An idea could be to take them on a walk through the local environment where they can see various technologies, go back to your school or ECE centre and initiate a whole class discussion about what they saw.
Then, as an activity they could create their own technologies and some might surprise you with creating the very same types you saw on your walk.
Made technologies can make excellent props for role play as these should in no way be seen as second best.
Another reason why I like this type of technology is that it eliminates one of the common barriers centres see to their technology use – affordability.
As I mentioned earlier, technology integration is NOT about the next big technological development. It is about the AVAILABLE technology that includes the ones made by the children themselves.
2. Unused Tech that doesn't work eliminates barriers to technology integration in the classroom
Then there is the second favourite which is technology that doesn’t work!
In the U.S, households could be holding $264 of unused devices (2017). In Australia, e-waste is continually becoming a problem with “the average Australian household is generating 73kg of e-waste a year”.
This means that the opportunity for early childhood education and care centres is HUGE in relation to the possibility of getting donations from the community. Just the ones from the children’s parents would be tremendous!
Such an opportunity obliterates the issue of cost and affordability in relation to technology in early childhood education and care.
3. Toy technologies is just as good as real technologies for learning
Moving on from this, however, still on the same level of effectiveness is the amount of toy technologies that may or may not be used by the public. Snap these up and put them to good use by planning appropriately in your role play.
4. Real and working technology connects children to the world they live in
Finally, it is still important for children to learn about how technology works and so working technologies from the community has a lot educational potential too.
Going back to the level of e-waste, much of it may also be working so put out a call to the community.
My point is, regardless of any objections to the use of technology in early childhood education or issues to do with it, there are ample opportunities for you to think innovatively in terms of opportunities.
So let the children explore technology in these ways because it is imperative that they find out about and identify the use of technology in their everyday lives.
As early childhood teachers, it is significant that you encourage children to observe and talk about the use of ICT in the environments and encourage the children to use these as ICT tools.