With the launch of the Digital Decisions Booknet this week, I have been busy reading and talking with others here on the site about technology in early childhood education! The book starts off with a timely discussion about the fears that many educators and administrators have about the use of technology in early childhood and tries to address some of those concerns. Below, I provide a brief summary of the key points from the first two chapters, along with some lingering questions I was left with after reading them.
In addition to reading, reflecting, and writing about the book, we have been posting questions online to expand the discussion to the entire early childhood community online. The most popular question in our forum has been: “What is your biggest challenge in trying to achieve a balance between the use of technology and other materials in your organization?” This popularity of this post speaks to the difficulty of balancing technology use in the classroom. Luckily, chapter 2 of Digital Decisions provides some suggestions, as do some of the other readers in our book club.
Some important points that they have brought up include the need for training in order to understand how to use and balance technology in early childhood and the benefit of allowing children to teach us ways to use new technologies in creative and exploratory ways. What are some other requirements, in terms of training, practice, or educational philosophy that are necessary to balance technology in the classroom?
- Technology has changed a great deal over the years and new tools allow us to more easily integrate technology into all areas of the classroom.
- Technology should be used as a tool to enhance and enrich existing classroom activities, not replace your current practice.
- Interactive technology is very different than passive media, the first has a place in the classroom, the latter does not.
- Interactive means choosing tools that allow children “to be actively engaged in making things happen with device sand applications.”
- The beginning of the chapter talks about the history of technology in early childhood. What have we learned from those first steps? Have we talked to teachers who have been integrating technology continuously over the years?
- Page 16 talks about bringing best practice to life. How is “best practice” defined and who is defining it in regards to technology integration in early childhood?
- The book provides guidance about how to use tech appropriately and alleviate concerns about poor tech integration but what about the educators who are not receiving this information? How can we ensure they use technology well?
- I love the focus on interactive tools, discussed on page 24. Is there a comprehensive list of these types of tools?
- There is a distinct difference between how children under two and children three or older should be interacting with technology.
- Technology use should be integrated throughout the classroom and built into lesson plans, setting arbitrary time limits prevents children from engaging in creative and meaningful play with technology.
- Set some expectations for how much teachers and children will be using various interactive tools, think about creating a chart that children can contribute to where they can track their technology time.
- Page 27 suggests children should have as much time as it takes during choice time to work on a project using technology. Is that something you can start right away or do you build up to allowing children that type of freedom with tech?
- The approximate amount of time for teacher-directed experiences with technology is 20 minutes (p.30). How do you plan for experiences that are just the right amount, not too long or too short?
Recently, we were talking about the value of online book clubs and online communities of practice as sources of professional development. Another great resource for early childhood educators who are looking for individualized support, that’s available at your convenience, 24/7 is Twitter. This microblogging platform allows educators to connect, share, and discuss ideas, concerns, and questions in short, 140 character messages.
You might have heard that Twitter is only for celebrities or people who are interested in telling the world what they’re doing every moment of the day but we’re here to tell you that Twitter is much more than that! It’s a social network that’s perfect for educators because first, it’s free and second, it provides a virtual space for educators around the world to easily engage in pedagogical discussions that aren’t always possible in the isolation of a school. To help you get started, we wanted to discuss five of our favorite hashtags for early educators interested in educational technologies:
- #ECETech(Chat) – This hashtag (#ecetech) and the related chat (#ecetechchat is every Wednesday at 9pm EDT) is for early childhood educators who are interested in learning more about technology integration and ways to use it in developmentally appropriate ways in the classroom. Join the chat to discuss new topics (e.g., tech tools for math education, the digital divide) each week!
- #EdTech – The #edtech hashtag is very popular and used by professionals across the field of education to share new tech tools, troubleshoot technical issues with implementing technologies in the classroom, and discuss issues relating to using technology in education.
- #iPadEd/#EdApps – These two hashtags are for educators who are interested in learning more about how to use iPads in education and what apps are appropriate to use on them. Follow these hashtags to learn about new approaches to iPad integration, 1:1 tablet programs, and educational apps.
- #mlearning – Similar to #ipaded, this hashtag focuses on tablets and any other devices that allow for mobile learning. It’s a great way to find out how teachers are using different devices in the classroom, what suggestions they have for integrating students own devices (e.g., BYOD: bring your own device), and additional educational app suggestions.
- #Web20 – If you’re looking for new web 2.0 tools or suggestions on how to use them to enhance learning and facilitate collaboration, then this hashtag is for you! Use it when you want to share a new tool or try one in your classroom and get advice from other educators who are using it as well.
You can find a more extensive list of hashtags we often use when tweeting about technology in our Google Spreadsheet. If you have other favorite hashtags or suggestions, let us know in the comments below! If you’re looking for more general hashtags and Twitter chats to follow, check out the library of educational hashtags @cybraryman1 has compiled.
See page 44.
Ch4Q3: Share an example of a developmentally appropriate activity for preschoolers that includes technology.
Idea starters – Does the activity fit into one of these domains?
- Logic and reasoning
- Thinking and learning
- Creative Arts
- Language and literacy
- Social Studies
A few months ago, we wrote a blog post on our sister site, Early Childhood Investigations, about the potential and power of learning communities. The idea for the post was sparked by an upcoming presentation by Ellen Galinsky, who was a guest presenter for a webinar in the Early Childhood Investigations series. She discussed ten key characteristics of learning communities, many of which are applicable in online spaces. Our favorite three for online spaces are:
- Focus on learning from and with each other and share a belief that there is expertise among us all.
- Focus on active learning that is experiential and engages participants in self-reflection and self-discovery.
- Use new media to connect in creative ways.
A number of learning communities (online and face-to-face) began to form around Mind in the Making, and now, with the launch of the Early Childhood Technology Network Booknet, we realized that we have the opportunity to create our own online learning community through our summer book club. Although online book clubs are not a new phenomenon, they are just starting to become popular in the field of early childhood. Previously, many groups have gathered around Mind in the Making and organizations such as the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education have used online spaces for book discussions.
This summer in particular, there are at least two books clubs that are actively taking place online for early childhood educators interested in discussing technology. One is the Booknet here, where we will be reading and discussing Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology Tools for Early Childhood Education by Fran Simon and Karen Nemeth and the other is the Book Study Blog Party, which is reading Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3, by Brian Puerling.
The two book clubs are taking a slightly different format, one is more blog-based and the other is built around online discussion forums and live author chats, but they both provide an exciting opportunity to take part in an online professional learning community. If you are often online and interested in technology, you have probably heard the term “PLN” or “Personal/Professional Learning Network.”
Joining an online book club is a great way to build or expand your own PLN and connect with other educators and readers who are specifically interested in examining a topic in more detail by reading and discussing a shared book. To get a sense of the discussions happening around Digital Decisions and to add your own thoughts, you can check out the responses to chapters one and two that will be posted this week. You might post questions, examples of technology based activities you have used, or resources to share. Reading the book and posting on the Digital Decisions Booknet might also be a way for you to document your professional development hours.
There are many ways to build a PLN and joining a book club is just one of them. If you’re interested in learning more about PLNs and various technology tools you can use to connect with others, take a look at this post.
What is this Site?
A membership commmunity for realiable information about technology in early education.
Who We Are
Karen Nemeth, Ed.M. and Fran Simon, M.Ed. - early learning experts with a passion for helping educators use technology to achieve their goals.
We designed ECETech.net to give early childhood educators an easy online resource for reliable information about technology implementation.