One of the many programs used in Early Childhood Education centres today is the ‘drill and practice’ programs or integrated learning systems. Such programs offer children the top-down approach to learning. Mathematical programs fit right into this category and offer the children discrete activities that help them improve their speed and accuracy in performing tasks.
Despite this, early childhood teachers who plan to teach 21st century skills such ICT capability in their centres and schools need to be wary of its use.
Studies have found that software is likely to more educationally effective if children have full control over it. Children need to be intellectually challenged and the teacher needs to play a role in facilitating the learning experience.
The computer generated questions which ‘drill and practice’ programs provide little scope for placing control in the hands of children or teachers.
Another problem which you would face is time for training. With most of these programs, for them to be effective in their use you would need to be trained efficiently.
One of the key criteria for selecting developmentally appropriate software is that:
The child must be in control.
This is important as it will help them become autonomous users of ICT and becoming independent allows teachers to do other things in the class.
Questions you should ask includes:
- Have the children been shown how to use the equipment so that they can become independent in their choices and uses?
- Are children encouraged to talk about technology so they can begin to have a critical sense of the place it holds in their lives?
What software should you look for?
Unfortunately, this debate is still current so my best advice is to use the 8 principles which contain the criteria of developmental appropriateness of ICT.
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