|Position statement on technology and young children – ages 3 through 8. (AECES is currently working on an updated version.)|
Position Statement of the Association for Early Childhood Educators, Singapore (Version 2)
Technology has been creeping into our classrooms inch by inch. We used to type with manual type writers which were replaced by the electric type writers and now the computers. As such, the word technology refers primarily to computers but it does not exclude others like the digital camera and videos for documentation. Einarsdottir, (2005), reported a study in which children used cameras to document the part of the program that they like, thus illuminating the children’s view of quality program. However, books have been the main teaching and learning tools in the early childhood classrooms. Can you imagine a world without books? Books have been the most crucial teaching and learning tool and have provided early childhood educators and children with abundant information about the world around us. Today, we have computers that can offer us a more extensive source of information, together with its visuals and audio accompaniments and the time has come for us to reflect, as a profession, the position we want to take on the use of technology in the teaching and learning process.
The Association takes the position that the use of technology is an essential teaching and learning tool for the 21st Century and that it should be included in the early childhood curriculum. However, although there is considerable research that points to the positive effects of technology on children’s learning and development, the use of technology complements and does not replace highly valued Early Childhood activities and materials such as art, blocks, sand, water, books, exploration with writing materials and dramatic play (NAEYC, 1996).
In order to ensure that the use of technology becomes another teaching and learning tool that offers opportunities for children to engage in meaningful play, collaborative learning, creative thinking and problem solving, the Association has crafted a vision for the use of technology.
- We would like to see adults and children in control of technology (Wright & Shade, 1994). For example, we would like to see children making use of cameras to document their learning. Comparing what they have documented with each other, and the teacher making use of the documentation to enrich learning. We want children to go to the computer to look out for materials for their project and not sitting glued to the computer trying to out beat their partner in a game.
- We would like to see different forms of technology (Wright & Shade, 1994) like phones, handphones, calculators, cash registers, toy microwaves and vacuum cleaners, cameras and computers integrated into the learning environment and children learning about its functions. For example, how to operate them, some on batteries and some have to be plugged in.
In order to achieve this vision, of including various forms of technology and ensuring that children and adults are in control of it, the role of the adult teacher is crucial. As such, the Association recommends the following roles.
The Recommended Role for the Early Childhood Educator
- The EC Educator plans and implements learning with the use of technology by integrating them with the teaching and learning process and not as an add-on to the curriculum. As such, the computer is part of the learning environment to be made use of, as and when, by children who may want to utilize another tool for learning. For example, two children start reading a book in the library center. One suggests that they go to the art center to draw the main character in the story and decorate the cover page. After being in the art center, and completing their cover page, the other child suggests that they use the computer to type out the title of the book. While at the computer center, they discover other visuals that they can include to create another story about the main character.
- The EC Educator ensures that the technology provides children with diverse learning styles to engage with ideas in ways not previously possible (Regan, 2008). For example, for children who prefer to move around, they can take photos of what they like, instead of writing about it. They can use the camera to document it, then down load the photos and use the computer to write about them.
- The EC educator evaluates appropriate software for diverse learning styles and interest of all children, boys and girls and those coming from different home cultures and socio-economic background. This does not only depend on product knowledge but the ability to observe how children interact with the software to identify both opportunities, and problems. These observations will help the EC educator make appropriate adaptations, integrate learning in the computer center with the other learning centers in the classroom and ensures that it benefits all children.
- The EC educator promotes collaborative and integrated learning by having the computer in the classroom instead of a separate computer lab. For example, the computer can be placed between the literacy and math centers to facilitate children from both centers to make use of it. Teachers can use computers to tell stories and children can review them at their own time and pace. Teachers can encourage children to work in pairs to review math concepts through selected computer software.
- The EC educator selects software that promotes positive social values like, respect for members of the community, community harmony, filial responsibility and love care and concern.
- The EC educator works with families to widen their knowledge on their children’s interests in the use of technology and to optimize the potential benefit of technology at home and in school.
Recommendation for Professional Development
It is not an easy task for the EC educator to fulfill their roles and responsibilities effectively. Therefore, they need support in their professional development to keep abreast with the use of technology and the software available. This will help them to make informed decisions as to what to include in the curriculum. This being the case, the Association advocates that pre-service and in-service teacher education provide EC educators with:
- opportunities to explore the use of computers and technology in enriching and extending children’s learning.
- exposure to the wide range of software available through hands–on exercises on
- evaluating software in relation to children’s developmental needs
- familiarizing and being more comfortable with the operation and features of hardware and software.
- practice on how to create the computer center within the classroom to complement the other learning centers.
- knowledge of various forms of technology that can enrich learning
Such professional development opportunities can also be supported and funded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports as part of continuing professional development for EC educators.
Recommendation for Personal and Professional Development Opportunities
The Association advocates that EC educators view the use of technology as a means for personal and professional growth. It can be used as a tool for:
- documentation of children’s learning with the use of photos
- accessing information on EC education from experts and peers around the world on curriculum ideas and updates on research
- communication and networking, staying connected through e-mailing and posting on blogs and facebook with family members, friends and professional colleagues.
- keeping updated on the current happenings in the EC field through surfing the AECES website.
Responding to the Challenge of the 21st Century
The use of technology has become a very important part of our daily lives. It is here to stay. We have a choice of either being overpowered, terrified and disabled by the new forms of technology or using them to our advantage as a powerful tool in enhancing our personal and professional lives. The Association encourages all EC educators to rise to the occasion by making use of technology to make learning come alive for the benefit of the children of Singapore.
Einarsdottir, J. (2005). We can decide what to play! Children’s perception of Quality in
an Icelandic playschool. Early Education & Development. Vol. 16, No.4, p. 469-
488. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. U.S.A.
Regan, B. (2008). Why we need to teach 21st century skills – And how to do it.
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The National Association for the Education of Young Children. (1996). Technology and
Young Children – Ages 3 through 8. Washington, DC: National Association for
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Wright, J.L. and Shade, D.D. Eds (1994). Young Children: Active Learners in a
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