Why is technology important in Early Childhood?
Technology is important in early childhood education for the simple fact that children today are already being exposed to emerging technologies. You would be surprised what a five year old knows already before starting preschool or kindergarten. They already know how to swipe using a tablet computer, take photos using a smart phone and look at videos or listen to music. That is just the top of my head.
However, technology has greater importance in ECE today because many countries are recognising the rise of the digital economy and as a consequence are incorporating technology integration into their curriculums. In Australia, for example, the general capability or 21st century skill, ICT capability refers to the integration of digital technologies throughout the curriculum. In particularly, it is primary education where the brunt of the takes place. Teachers here are therefore charged with the main progression and continuity of child ICT capability. This is not where it must start though.
For progression to be true, early childhood education must lay the foundation to ICT capability. Why? Early childhood education lays the foundation for much a child’s learning journey and with technology or ICTs being just as much an important part of their lives now and in the future than other topics like literacy and numeracy, it is essential that early childhood teachers must ensure that they are using .
The reality is that especially with key areas such as literacy, ICT can aide it considerably. Now with new technologies comes ‘new literacies’, and so here is an opportunity to support their use of ICT with evidence based ICT teaching strategies.
In fact, anytime where the child uses ICT is an opportunity.
An important strategy which early childhood teachers must use at the start of a child’s journey with as well as throughout their time with them, is assessment. Going back to the question, why technology is important in ECE, the answer is because it is the start of the journey. However, like mentioned earlier children are so exposed to technologies and assessment of a child’s ICT capability will determine where a child’s starting point, where they are heading and where they ought to be. Assessment is also linked to forward planning. In early childhood education this is vital. If the correct foundations are not set at this stage then only haphazard capabilities will be developed.
Earlier, I discussed the role of primary education. Early childhood teachers need to use proper strategies to integrate ICT in their practices so that primary teachers can pick up where they finished. From there true progression can be carried out provided that they too use the needed and key information on a child’s progress is shared with their colleagues.
Finally, to summarise my point, technology is important in early childhood education because we ALL live in a ICT-integrated world where even traditional literacies are being altered. If this is the case, in which no one can deny it, then the effective development of a child’s ICT capability is just as vital part of their early education as is literacy, numeracy, communication and other key aspects of ECE. ICT permeates every part of our lives especially education. Yet, early childhood education must be the start of a child’s ICT capability learning journey and early childhood teachers need effective and evidence based ICT strategies guaranteed to develop their ICT capability and pass a child’s progression onto primary teachers. If this occurs then society can look forward to proficient users of ICT who have the disposition to create ICT solutions to problems that are limited to the opportunities and limitations of the ICT available - ICT capable citizens.
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