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.
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 physical and social world. It is an important part of private and work life of most people, including young children.
This relates to the many opportunities and potential ICT delivers to the teaching and learning of 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.
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.
Finally, 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.
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.
Language development is greatly enhanced when ICT is employed in the 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.
Children can increase their world knowledge through the use of modern technology such as the Internet.
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.
Mathematical development is also enhanced as a result of the visual images which computers can provide.
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.
What are the Key Features of ICT that support Early Childhood?
The features of ICT which supports Early Childhood can also have an impact throughout the rest of a child’s school life.
It are these features of ICT which make it stand out from other media, and which cannot be represented in terms of the others.
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: 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 being 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.
How to use ICT Tools with Children in libraries and classrooms?
Mobile technology use in early childhood learning environments has really taken off over the years. It is now essential that you understand the best practices when using them with children in your care.
Learn More about MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM:
Ensure that you carefully plan and prepare for these situations in order to maximise opportunities in learning.
- Identify the educational goals of the Apps you wish the children to use.
- Select them and then familiarise yourself with its features.
- Apply evidence based ICT instructional teaching strategies.
- Plan to record data and identify your methods of evaluation.
Room set up
Did you know that the organisation of the room can have an impact on the development of ICT capability?
One of the main barriers to ICT capability is access to ICT resources. If this was difficult, irregular or conditional on the completion of other activities, the application of ICT gained the status of something special.
Keep computers in a classroom that will ensure maximised opportunities for curriculum activity.
Keep room in the classroom for children to discuss activities, work together on computers and even to write on paper beside the computer.
This is in addition to leaving space for peripheral devices such as printers.
For App use, ICT tools and resources for early childhood teachers would include:
- Smartphones or tablets.
- A VGA adapter (to connect the tablet or smartphone to the projector).
- A microphone.
- The Internet or Wi-Fi.
Curriculum Planning in Early Childhood Education
Planning is closely linked to assessment and when it comes to mobile technology use, planning with Apps in mind is no different.
There are in fact 11 Aspects of Planning for ICT integration which you need to consider.
With planning in relation to Apps, these projects can be co-designed, but you need to consider the children’s and parent’s information needs.
It is essential that if the project takes place in the library, that you engage with both children and parents in the implementation stage of the project.
Collecting data is important as it will help inform your future planning. Use your observations to assess capabilities in ICT through adult-child and peer-to-peer interactions.
Both qualitative and quantitative data can be gathered.
A good record to use is an Individual Profile sheet for each child.
Meaningful ICT Tools and Resources in Early Childhood Education
Many ICT tools which are appropriate for children in early childhood education centres are similar to that 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:
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.
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ICT Tools in Early Childhood Education