Throughout the ages, it has been the plight of educators to prepare students for the world that they live in. This is as true now as it was back in the Industrial age. Today, the number one reason why it is imperative that effective student ICT capability is developed in ECE is that we live in an ICT-integrated society. ICT has affected the lives of those people and environments that surround young children (Bolstad, 2004). People today seek to use ICT for personal growth, creativity and joy, consumption and wealth. Children need to have “at least a general notion of their technological surroundings at home and at school” (Semenov, 2005, p. 18). As more industrial, professional, and business occupations call for knowledge-based and skilful intellectual work, the people that surround young children seek to improve their fluency in ICT so as to keep up-to-date with the changes in their lives and occupations (Semenov, 2005). It is important that as individuals today, that we are able to “analyse mass media information critically and use it productively” (Semenov, 2005, p. 17).
The second reason is primarily focused on the opportunities that it can bring to ECE. It can “support and enhance children’s learning and play experiences” (Bolstad, 2004, p. 2). Research has shown that ICT can provide affordances such as higher-order thinking, cognitive enquiry, improved literacy and creativity (Fagan, 2015). ICTs can provide a sense of wonderment about the world for children. For example, YouTube can become a rich opportunity for extending enquiries due to one of the key features of ICT, access to information (Fagan, 2015). In addition, research has provided much evidence in relation to the use of ICT for creativity in ECE. Recording devices can transform everyday experiences into stories and even dramatic plays. Then there is the use of ICT to document the children’s creativity.
There are other educational purposes that arise in relation to the use of ICT in ECE that involve the opportunities that it can bring the practitioners in their professional learning and development. In a recent study (Fagan, 2015), the introduction of new ICTs enabled further learning. It has also shown that ICT can become a tool for teachers to reflect and refine their work practices.
Finally, if there is to be a new generation of students in the education system that will be proficient in the use of ICT – as is hoped in the 10 year strategic vision for the Australian ICT sector (NICTIA, 2007) – children have to be educated in effective ICT skills from an early age. This is also to ensure effective progression and continuation of student ICT capabilities throughout their school careers. Currently, there is a strong focus on the integration of ICT in curriculum and practice across the whole education sector (Bolstad, 2004). However, to use this analogy ‘a building cannot withstand the test of time without proper foundations’. So is the case with the development of student ICT capabilities in ECE. The growing importance of ICT and eLearning concepts in the other education sectors can provide much assistance in the form of literature to those in ECE.