Why does ICT matter in Early Childhood Education?

Accredited Online professional development for teachers - ICT Teaching Strategies

By Michael Hilkemeijer

 

 

 

why use technology in early childhood education?

 

Why is technology important in early childhood education?

 

The following reasons also highlight some of the benefits of ICT in Early Childhood Education.

 

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Reason 1why does ICT matter in early childhood education

Firstly, young children are already being exposed to ICT tools and as such it already has an effect on them and on the environment and people that surround them.

 

ICT tools are becoming a ubiquitous component of the physical and social world. It is an important part of the private and work-life of most people, including young children.

 

Reason 2

This relates to the many opportunities and potential ICT delivers to the teaching and learning of the curriculum.

 

In early childhood, it can:

 

  • Support and enhance learning and play experiences.
  • Support and strengthen your professional learning as an early childhood teacher.
  • Support and strengthen your relationships with parents and other people connected to your early childhood education centre.

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Reason 3

Many curriculums are now supporting the integration of ICT across the education sector from early childhood to tertiary.

 

Research shows that the delayed attention to ICT in early childhood has given the sector an advantage that while in the past attention has been given towards getting ICT infrastructure into schools without pedagogical support, the reverse is now occurring.

 

 

Reason 4

ICT supports metacognition or ‘learning to learn’. It means knowing that you know and it provides the foundation to what an ICT capable child is.

 

 

REASON 5

The use of ICT in early childhood education supports many opportunities for creative development with young children. Through the use of ICT in role plays, they will employ imaginative thinking.

 


REASON 6

Language development is greatly enhanced when ICT is employed in learning environments. ICT tools and resources such as word processors may appear to be very basic, but remember the power of word processing is in the ease in which children can easily edit and change their writing whilst developing their language and literacy skills.


REASON 7

Children can increase their world knowledge through the use of modern technology such as the Internet.

 


REASON 8

The many features that ICT brings with it in the learning environment will in the end improve the fine and motor gross skills of children.

 


REASON 9

Mathematical development is also enhanced as a result of the visual images which computers can provide.

 


REASON 10

One of the many benefits that will come with the use of ICT in early childhood education is that of collaboration. This alone helps to build language with children in addition to developing their social skills.

 

 

 

 

 

Key features of technology in early childhood education

 

 

Unlocking the Benefits of ICT in Early Childhood Education and Care

 

The above list outlines the top reasons why you should ICT in early childhood education and care. It represents the first phase of implementing ICT integration and transformation.

 

Understanding why you should use ICT and the relative advantages of it is important.

 

However, if you are to truly unlock the benefits of technology in early childhood education and care then it is imperative that you move to the next phase:

 

Developing pedagogy with ICT – implement ICT teaching strategies.

 

This is essential as without evidence-based teaching strategies with technology, little more than ICT skills will be learned by the children and this is not what ICT capability and ICT literacy are about.

 

 

As an early childhood teacher, your role with ICT will change. In order to exploit the effectiveness of ICT, you will need to develop your own ICT capability and become aware of the level of ICT capability to expect of different groups. For this reason, I encourage you to establish a starting point for this at the moment children begin at your centre or school.

 

There are two which you first need to know about this.

 

Firstly, using ICT is about developing your understanding of what technology has to offer. For children, it is about not just assessing what ICT skills they have been taught, but how to make use of those ICT skills in another context.

 

Don’t get confused in thinking that using ICT in the learning environment is just about learning ICT skills and techniques.

 

For you as an early childhood teacher, the same concept applies to you. It is not just about acquiring ICT skills but developing an understanding and judgement about how to use those ICT skills appropriately.

 

 

As an early childhood teacher, your role with ICT will change. In order to exploit the effectiveness of ICT, you will need to develop your own ICT capability and become aware of the level of ICT capability to expect of different groups. For this reason, I encourage you to establish a starting point for this at the moment children begin at your centre or school.

 

There are two which you first need to know about this.

 

Firstly, using ICT is about developing your understanding of what technology has to offer. For children, it is about not just assessing what ICT skills they have been taught, but how to make use of those ICT skills in another context.

 

Don’t get confused in thinking that using ICT in the learning environment is just about learning ICT skills and techniques.

 

For you as an early childhood teacher, the same concept applies to you. It is not just about acquiring ICT skills, but developing an understanding and judgement about how to use those ICT skills appropriately.

 

 

Here is an example of what I am talking about. It is an example in a Primary education context but just go with me on this. Much of the strategies of early childhood and primary teachers use with technology are the same as it has become widely available in both learning environments.

 

Picture yourself contemplating using a PowerPoint program with the aid of a data projector in your classroom. This type of presentation software is great for small children too. It can be used to create a presentation for every lesson.

 

As a teacher, you need to decide when such a presentation is an effective use of the technology in terms of the possibilities PowerPoint can offer. You also need to make a judgement about the group of children that you are teaching. It may be that you have already used a similar presentation on the previous day.

 

There is a danger that the group of children will not find your presentation so compelling.

 

You need to make a decision about why this would be better than other teaching techniques.

 

 

Benefits of ICT in Early Childhood Education

 

ICT Teaching Strategies in Early Childhood Education Online PD Workshops

Today, in an online world it is important that you attend workshops that do focus on the pedagogy of ICT. According to the UNESCO plan for developing ICT capability in ECE, professional development workshops online should include:

 

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What are the Key Features of ICT that support Early Childhood?

 

The features of ICT which support Early Childhood can also have an impact throughout the rest of a child’s school life.

 

It is these features of ICT that make it stand out from other media, and which cannot be represented in terms of the others.

 

These include:

 

Clarity: this feature means that text and images can be produced, combined, and reproduced. Children have a choice of neat or artistic fonts, for example, is one way that it provides clarity.

 

Authenticity: ICT tools are professionally throughout life in many fields so to provide children with these at an early stage of their education gives them experience in realistic tasks. Children are also able to make their work look more professional than just the traditional ways in the classroom.

 

Focusability: The rapid narrowing down of information can be achieved through the use of search tools and menu structures. Children can select parts of images and zoom in on them to enlarge them so that they can focus their attention on aspects of images and begin their analysis of it.

 

Multimodality: information can be easily changed to communicate through multiple senses.

 

Availability: children and early childhood teachers can choose when and where to use ICT tools and resources.

 

These key features are at the heart of the impact of technology in early childhood education.

 

Put these features together and they make ICT tools and resources very powerful as it continues to promote engagement with activities.

 

The result is that children will persevere longer with ICT tasks. Motivation is a huge and powerful feature to have as an early childhood teacher’s tools in the classroom.

 

 

 

ICT tools for Early Childhood Educators

 

 

The role of ICT in Early Childhood Education

To enhance equality in education, all countries in the world are currently focused on the use of technology in early childhood education. It is considered an excellent move because the use of information and communication technology in education has proven to be fruitful since it makes the learning process more inclusive and thus more effective. One of the factors that necessitated the use of information and communication technology in early childhood education is the presence of different learning needs among students. For instance, some students could be better visual learners and through technology, teachers can incorporate visual techniques such as videos and images, to enhance the learning process for this demographic.

Other roles of Information and Communication Technology in Early Childhood Education include:

It enhances the identification of learning disabilities.

A large number of students struggle with learning issues such as dyslexia and such conditions put them in a disadvantaged position to learn at the same pace as their peers. The presence of technology in early childhood education can not only make it easy to identify such issues but also promotes experiential learning by teachers as they work to educate students with learning disabilities.

 

Learning is more interesting and practical

One of the elements of education is to present facts about surroundings to students, to facilitate increased awareness of their environment, which is part of the role of early childhood education. This is only possible with technology since young learners can only grasp such content effectively if they see and relate it with their immediate environments. Such is through videos and images.

 

It supports the integration of technology in the education system

Since most education systems have increased their emphasis on the importance of technology, the adoption of technology in early childhood education further reinforces effective incorporation. This is because with students learning and understanding technology at a young age, their attitudes are shaped, and they are equipped with skills that are only built upon at higher levels of learning.

 

It is future-oriented

The adoption of information and communication technology in early childhood education is a future-oriented approach because it prepares the next generation for the modern workplace, which is dominated by technology. Currently, the world is facing job displacement due to technology, where most careers have been replaced by technology and others created. The introduction of technology at such early learning stages is thus crucial for the adequate preparation of students to take up technology courses at higher education and also pursue careers in technology. It will also help reduce the rate at which people lose job opportunities due to skills mismatch.

 

The technology guarantees the continuity of education

A report by UNESCO in 2010 shows that countries that have adopted technology in education experience fewer disruptions because, with technology, students can access learning materials in the virtual classrooms. For instance, the current COVID- 19 epidemic is an excellent example of why information and communication technology should not be predominantly used in higher education but all levels of education. With technology at all levels, learning is not only possible in the physical classroom. The virtual classrooms take over when the need arises.

 

Enhance Access to Resources

The educational resources provided through technology can be accessed by more students, which eliminates inequality in education through segregated access to resources. For instance, in developing countries, most educational systems depend on textbooks that spell out the curriculum, which retail at high prices. Some students cannot access them, which places them in a disadvantaged position. Through ICT, such resources can be easily shared at little or no cost, which is also environment friendly. It will thus promote a level- playing ground for students to compete favorably.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the role of ICT in early childhood development is indispensable in the world's efforts to achieve inclusivity and continuity in education. It is also crucial in ensuring that the future generation of higher education learners is ready for technology-based courses, which are a critical need for the future job market. A proper educational foundation is essential in academic achievement, hence the significance of the utilization of all necessary resources in initial educational experiences for students.

 

 

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ICT Tools in Early Childhood Education

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