In her article Technology as a Creative and Expressive Language: New Research, Debi Keyte-Hartland describes a contrast between popular belief amongst teaching communities that technology should be kept out of young children classrooms, and the research project she is involved with, which does the exact opposite. The project is a collaborative effort between five early childhood settings in UK and five pre-schools in Sweden. They are running this project to research the relationship children are engaging in with the natural world and to encourage the learning further by setting a focus on the connection between digital and traditional languages and materials that are being used with young children. In this context, digital technology is being used as a creative and expressive educational tool for young children in an inquiry based approach to learning and is not being implemented to remove ICT from other areas of learning but rather to be used as a teaching tool to connect with pedagogy through adaptive learning, active exploration and inquiry based learning. Keyte-Heartland shares that the purpose of this project is to shake up the status quo and digital divide around teaching methods being used traditionally in classrooms. (Keyte-Hartland, 2016)
“We need to embrace technology to make learning more engaging. Because, when students are engaged and they are interested, that’s where learning takes place.” ~ Unknown
I was able to take away from this article that as an educator, we should be embracing the use of technology as a learning tool to investigate and explore children’s relationships with nature, that way they will have the opportunity to extend their learning to find out more about the world around them. Throughout active exploration and experimentation the approach of blended learning will benefit as an integrated digital learning tool that combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. This approach will be investigated by the children using multiple points of views, inquisitive interests and different relationships. I believe that we should be allowing children to use this new way of learning as it will give them the opportunity to widen their vision and allow educators to build patterns in their inquiries that otherwise wouldn’t have been found through traditional methods. (Keyte-Hartland, 2016).
The research Keyte-Hartland is conducted is an important step for how digital technology in classrooms with young children will be perceived moving forward, as you can see in the video Using Technology to support research groups in the early childhood classroom by Ravenswood Elementary School’s pre-kindergarten teacher Yeliz Zurawic.
I am a strong advocate of learning through play. The responsibility is put on the teacher to create an environment in which the children’s play involving exploration and investigation become learning opportunities which further assist their development. Keyte-Hartland’s plea to educators to allow digital technology into the classroom just like any other learning tool exactly aligns with my ECE philosophy of not interfering when a child has found their tool for making meaning through exploration. This is no different with digital technology, children are able to use it at an early age to consume information and develop skills through mediums by using a variety of apps such as Raz-Kids (Kids A-Z), Seesaw and Shadow Puppets. Technology can also help educators build on child’s learning by taking an adaptive approach, and using the classroom to explore exciting opportunities for observation and pedagogy that are taking place each day. Parents are able to use technology such as Seesaw to stay in the loop and be aware of the learning that is happening while at school and continue the exploration at home.
When researching how to incorporate Technology I came across a great article, Blending Technology and Project Based Learning by Sandy that gives proper guidance techniques and ways to reinforce technology so that it doesn’t have to be a push back, we should embrace the change in meaning by making and incorporating digital technology instead of being afraid of it. By taking part in your own research and simply following the adaptive learning techniques you will notice a new found excitement in your children’s learning and your teaching strategies as well.
Here are some useful articles I found on inquiry-based learning:
Keyte-Hartland, D., (2016), Meaning-Making and Digital Languages. Technology as a Creative and Expressive Language/ New Research. Retrieved from https://debikeytehartland.me/2016/01/23/meaning-making-and-digital-languages-technology-as-a-creative-and-expressive-language-new-research/
Sandy., (2016), Blending Technology and Project Based Learning. Retrieved from http://www.sandycangelosi.com/2016/03/technology-and-project-based-learning.html
Zurawic, Yeliz., TEC Center., (2014), Using technology to support research groups in the early childhood classroom. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCvuwhDh8ao