What does it mean to bring technology into the classroom in early childhood education? Does that mean that we need to go in and set up a bunch of computers and hope the young ones will start learning how to use them? How old should these kids be before we plonk them in front of a screen and put a mouse in their hand? Will these computers make life easier for everyone as they take over the teaching and learning jobs? Or should we ban any technological device from the premises and teach the children the good old fashioned way to read and write?
To answer these questions is to begin a heated debate. Technology in schools and classrooms has its pros and cons and educators are still today scratching their heads as to whether to allow technology in.
Technology for silly games and technology for the real fun
The age old argument, and this one goes back to the good old days when you hid your comic book inside your text book so you could read it in class, is that the kids are going to goof off and use their technology for frivolous purposes. Teachers will have to confiscate phones because kids will be chatting and playing games on them. The other argument is that the kids can be using their technology to research subjects that they are busy with. That educational information and connectivity can be utilised on a hand held device.
The real fun comes when the classroom, preschool, primary and high school, is wired for technology. There is internet connection, smart boards, community areas on the internet, everyone in the class has a tablet, questions and answers pour in through technology. There are so many advantages. Kids are able to have access to each other’s work. They can work in groups remotely. Children who are not confident can participate in classroom discussions without having to identify themselves. Hiding your phone under the desk to play a silly game is not really where the fun is anymore.
Technology for a global early childhood education
It sounds so poetic. Technology for a global early childhood education and it is. Here is the huge step into the vast beyond. The place that technology could take us if we were not afraid. Our little ones are not afraid, they are curious. Technology can linkup a classroom full of preschoolers here with a classroom on the other side of the planet and start to make friends. They could play together everyday for half an hour. You child could have a great understanding of several cultures, several economic brackets, several problems that another culture faces. Your child could grow up as a young person who cares.
Your child would be aware that there are many languages in the world, maybe even learn a few words. Your child would learn new skills, learn to collaborate, and communicate with all different kinds of children, not just the ones in her classroom.
Your child would be able to explore the world from his classroom, not just in books but also through technology. 3D, live and in colour.
The most amazing thing to think about when we allow ourselves to ponder the possibilities is that we could be giving birth to a generation of people to whom inequality, racial and economic barriers could be a thing of the past. Where diversity and global understanding becomes a reality.
The real reality of it is that technology is not going anywhere except bigger, better and beyond, so we are going to have to cooperate. Plus there aren’t many four year olds out there anymore who can’t download a game onto an iPad.