How children learn with technology in Early Childhood Education
Welcome to this page featuring information on how to harness technology in early childhood education. In this blog, you learn:
- Why technology in early childhood education matters?
- What are some examples of technology in early years education?
- The use of technology in early childhood education and;
- How to use technology in preschool activities?
Why Technology matters in ECE?
Before you begin to understand how children learn with technology, it is important that the foundations are laid in relation to why is technology important in early childhood education. This is something that I have discussed more extensively in another blog, however, here are the nuts and bolts of it. There are several reasons:
- It enhances learning in many key learning areas such as literacy and numeracy;
- It enables children to better understand their technological surroundings in their lives;
- Develops a child's technological literacy and ICT capability;
- The integration of Information and Communication Technology is a key component of the Early Years Learning Framework in Australia and that of EYFS in the UK.
- Children need to develop the notion of ICT as a tool that is designed for specific purpose.
- Lays the foundation for young children to be proficient users of Information and Communication Technologies in society.
Examples of Technology
There are so many examples of technology in preschool and kindergarten learning environments. Some would think that it would include much digital technology. However, technology in early years education does not to be this at all.
In fact, some of the best examples of technology in early years education are developmentally appropriate and very affordable and cheap. Here's why.
Examples of technology in early childhood education include:
- Real technologies that work- for example, digital cameras, web cams, tablet computers, mobile phones. It also includes programs such as word processors, painting and drawing programs, presentations programs, and animation software.
- Toy technologies - for example, toy technologies that resemble real technologies. This prevents the child from becoming too focused on getting the technology to work at times when there may be issues.
- Made technologies - I like this one the best because you can take the children out on a technology tour and then get them to make something that they saw earlier. They tend to value these the most.
- Real technologies that no longer work - any technology that the public can donate and is not out-dated can be used in role play as well.
Such examples of technology in early years curriculum are great to use and to integrate successfully into the early years curriculum and we provide you with real world strategies to do this in our online workshop that will enable you to Harness technology in early childhood education today.
The course will give you a better understanding of how children learn with technology as it is this that will lay your foundation to successful integration.
Our free technology in early childhood education workshop will give you the crucial elements on the developmentally appropriate use of technology in early childhood education through authentic learning experiences that connect to your curriculum planning and practices.
We suggest the best way to use technology in preschool for example is to:
- Be responsive to a young child's technology interests, skills and abilities;
- Embed intentional teaching strategies in early childhood education activities;
- Employ evidenced based methods of observation and assessment;
- Enhance literacy and numeracy with ICT.
How children learn using Tech
When integrating digital technology in early childhood education, it is essential that you understand the scope of how children learn with technology in the early years setting.
The answer to 'Why is technology important in early childhood education' comes to down to your role and belief as an early childhood teacher in preschool, kindergarten or early primary teaching about the role of technology in society and its importance in children's future. This is best explained throughout the workshop.
Young children and digital technology have been emphasised in the Statement for Young Children and Digital Technologies by Early Childhood Australia, where it stressed the significance of supporting the use of digital technology in early childhood education with digital pedagogy. You can find this in our online workshop.
So here is what to know about early childhood education when using technology?
In order for you to effectively integrate digital technologies and develop ICT capability in the learning environment, it is essential to understand the key elements of learning theories that underpin ICT supports learning. How children learn with technology is to do with:
- Social constructivism;
- Brain-based ideas;
- Metacognition and;
- Affective aspects.
Theorist such as Kennewell (2004) suggests that there are three types of knowledge – knowing that, knowing how and knowing why. Whereas ‘knowing that’ refers to factual knowledge, ‘knowing how’ refers to skills and the last one concerns the element of understanding of which there is high emphasis on. He points out that all are essential and that all school curricula is based on them. As a result, as a teacher your understanding of ICT integration should follow suit.
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Constructivism theories were developed at the same time as behaviourism by such theorist like Jean Piaget. However, though similar the key ideas revolved around the concept that the “development of schematic structures in the mind which constituted understanding” (Kennewell, 2004, p. 90). A key part of this theory is part that emphasises the importance of children learning while reflecting on experiences. Reflection plays a significant role in the learning of ICT capability for without it is unlikely that experiences will have any effect on mental structures. For this reason, it is important that you provide opportunities for children to reflect on their experiences at different stages of their work. This will involve you to continually plan and monitor their actions carried out during tasks.
Social constructivism focuses mainly on the individual mind and therefore has a tremendous amount to do with cognitive development. This type of theory encompasses key concepts such as you as the teacher considering the learning environment in addition to discussing how collaboration is paramount to learning. Collaboration of children on ICT tasks has a powerful role to play which is why it forms the basis for of many approaches to using ICT in the classroom today.
Higher order skill development is a significant component of what constitutes as ICT capability. The skills which it encompasses includes monitoring, evaluating, selection and the control over processes – all of which are metacognitive in nature. For ICT capability within children to occur they need to:
- Be aware of their own knowledge and ICT techniques and processes;
- Be aware of the opportunities and limitations offered by the possible use of ICT techniques and processes and;
- Have the ability to regulate their own actions in the application of that knowledge.
‘Knowing what you know’ is important because “knowing how well they are likely to perform in a situation will affect the way students approach a task and how successfully they are likely to be” (Kennewell, 2004, p. 93). This feeling of self-efficacy will enable them to choose to do something and to take the risk of being wrong. Additionally, it will help them make realistic assessments about what they can learn.
Problem solving skills are dependent on metacognitive knowledge as it calls on what you know. These skills are essential for inquiry based lessons that are based on authentic (real world) problems. We need children to become the problem solvers of the future.
The third part of the above focuses on “when, why and how children explore, plan, monitor, regulate and evaluate progress” (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000, p. 47). It too is influenced by metacognitive knowledge.
Situativity refers to the theory that learning is of our participation in activities in various social settings where the knowledge gained is situated in the setting and therefore, a change in the setting means new learning.
Brain-based ideas is based on the claim that while we might use visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activity in learning, we each have a preference for which one is best for us to use. This has two main issues for you as teacher:
- How to accelerate learning by exploiting the full range of individual learners’ strength and;
- How to help learners improve their abilities in strategies that are naturally weak?
(Kennewell, 2004, p. 93)
ICT can help accelerate learning through the use of multimedia presentations that comes with images, sound and animation which is more effective than only oral/verbal exposition.
Finally, affective aspects refers to the degree that children are motivated by the activity that they are engaged in. This has a lot to do with their self-esteem which is improved in the technology-rich learning environment. Even the disaffected children may find an incentive to use ICT as it provides them with the potential and structure for action that they need on a continual basis (Kennewell, 2004) in addition to the fact that they do not realise that they are investing effort in learning. As Kennewell (2004) states “if disaffected children can gain success when ICT is used, an immediate positive assessment of their subject learning (not just their ICT capability) combined with appropriate praise may them encouragement to continue their effort” (p. 94).
The use of technology in early childhood education is significant in an ever-increasing online and digital world. It pays to support its use through embedding evidence based teaching strategies in early childhood.