How I Have Developed as a Tech Educator — April 13, 2016

How I Have Developed as a Tech Educator

It is hard to believe that I used to have a negative viewpoint of technology and education before entering the Early Childhood Studies program at Ryerson. My experiences in placement as well as in my own classes have shaped my opinions and knowledge on the benefits of technology.

board-973988_960_720
I’m still learning as well!

My previous knowledge  of educational technology was limited even though I considered myself to be a very tech savvy person. I had only really ever used technology as a source of entertainment and I had assumed that was all other people wanted to use it for as well. I did not even consider things like digital cameras, SMARTboards, and app tools in my scope of technology knowledge.

My breakthrough moment of when I started really seeing the benefits of technology was during placement in a kindergarten classroom. There was a SMARTboard in the classroom as well as iPad’s and computers. I didn’t think much of it until I began to see how they were being used in the classroom. Children would help read out the morning messages on the SMARTboard and children were able to use the touchscreen component to follow along with the words on the screen. It drastically improved the entire classes speed and precision in reading ability.  Lessons were taught on the SMARTboard as well and the lessons were always interactive with the touchscreen. Objects could be manipulated on the screen or pictures created. It was such an engaging and fun way to teach and I loved every second of it.

Camera’s and iPad’s were also put to great use. I had never seen pedagogical documentation in action with children included before this placement. Children would go around the room and take pictures of their creations or interests. I remember thinking that it was such a great way to get a child’s perspective on learning. Typically at the end of the week the classroom teacher would print out pictures taken and add it to the classroom photo book.

Although I was beginning to change my thinking surrounding technology in the classroom, I didn’t truly change my mind until taking Children and Technology. When asked in a survey at the beginning of the semester what I thought about technology and children, I was stuck in the middle. On one hand I saw how great of a tool it was in through my placement experiences and I wanted to see what else I could do with technology. On the other hand, I knew from personal experience that things like video games could be just time wasters and forms of simple entertainment. I still had much to learn about the difference between educational technology and just regular tech.

woman-1172718_960_720
changing the way I think

I learned about many fantastic things over the semester. Using apps such as HiMama! to do pedagogical documentation as well as connect with families was one of my favourite discoveries. Another great piece of advice I took away from the class was learning how to distinguish between “educational” games and games that actually provided appropriate learning experiences. So many apps and websites try to promote their games as knowledge based to get people to play their games. It is important to look at the content we are giving children with a critical and educational lens.

One final thing I really took away from the Children and Technology class was to embrace technology. Technology is not meant to be this scary thing trying to replace hands-on learning and educators. It is a great tool that opens up opportunities for all children. it is meant to be fun and experimental. In the 21st century the world is digital so children need to be technology literate so that they can be part of it as well.

Overall, I feel more ready than ever to begin teaching and to incorporate what I have learned about technology in the classroom. My experiences have changed my viewpoints as an educator and I hope that I can continue to grow and form new opinions. My learning isn’t over and I can’t wait to take the ideas I formed at Ryerson to the next place I go.

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

 

Game-Based Learning —

Game-Based Learning

Gaming and video games are something which I find  frequently brought up in discussions about whether or not technology is appropriate for young learners. I have heard everything from “video games rot children’s brains” to, “they are just sitting there not doing anything!”.

Games have had a bad rap for many years now and I suppose it can be hard to find the benefits of gaming when you hear on the news about situations such as video game addictions or violence due to video games. In my opinion, the media use video games as a scapegoat in these articles to take blame away from other underlying issues. It seems as though video games are quite misunderstood and because of the negative image surrounding games, people are not willing to embrace gaming and to analyze video games for their potential benefits.

 

festival-517197_960_720

“Though there is a growing body of work on the use of technology in the early years, much of the research has focused on multimedia tools and popular culture as pathways to multimodal literacies with relatively little focus on digital games.” (Nolan, J., & Mcbride, M., 2013, p.594)

Like with everything children interact with, moderation is key and games are no exception. I fully believe that children playing video games in the learning environment give children multimodal, engaging and in-depth learning experiences.

First I want to go over why some educators may be reluctant to think of video games as an educational tool. “Digital games, and technology in general, remain a peripheral priority for many early childhood educators whose aversions to digital culture are often articulated according to outdated pedagogical and developmental standpoints.” (Nolan, J., & Mcbride, M., 2013,  p.605). One negative of video games I have heard countless times is that children are being isolated and not interacting like they should be. On the contrary, video games are very social and can actually enhance social experiences and participation between peers. Just think of games such as Mario Party where teamwork is a necessary component of the game and friendly competition is encouraged. Another issue with video games which I have heard is that video games would take away from “real” learning in the classroom. Video games are not intended to replace traditional curriculum, then are meant to enhance it. This is why it is so important for educators to know how to use video games and when they are appropriate so that video games are an educational tool and NOT just a time waste. One last concern I have heard is that video games make children lazy and/or violent. Again this is why it is imperative that educators embrace technology and learn how to use it effectively in the classroom. Violent games are typically not educational and should not be an option or concern in the classroom. Video games are also a tool to be used in moderation and not a replacement for a lesson or educator.

So what can video games give children?

An article on video games in the classroom talks about how technology gives children independence.”Unlike traditional institutional schooling, the everyday learning and play that occur with games is organized and directed by the child rather than a teacher.” (Nolan, J., & Mcbride, M., 2013, p.597). Video games allows children to critically think and choose a focused topic of interest which helps to condone an inquiry-based learning environment.

From my own experience, video games give children learning opportunities that are engaging and effective. Children get excited about games and can experience total immersion. Imagine trying to get a group of children as excited for writing a spelling test than they would be when playing a spelling bee game on a computer or iPad.

Gaming can add to learning and can extend to all of the subjects. An art experience could be inspired by a character a child saw in a game, or dramatic play can take place at recess involving a story-line from a favourite video game. My favourite example to use is the game Minecraft and how it can be used as a math teaching tool.

minecraft-529462_960_720

My own personal experiences with the game have led me to several conclusions on why Minecraft supports math learning:

  Crafting -Minecraft has hundreds of recipes to craft using ingredients and combinations of items in certain orders. Children can enhance addition as well as counting and ordering skills through the use of the crafting interface in Minecraft

…Also the crafting interface reminds me of a base 10 blocks for counting!

 

Building – Minecraft is basically virtual Lego and children can construct and count as they play. To be able to get the dimensions right on their block cabin children need to count how many blocks they are going to need. Building with blocks gives children ways to visualize numbers.

Collecting and Sorting In the game children have to maintain an inventory and this requires stacking supplies and moving resources into storage areas. Children can develop basic number sense as they sort materials and figure out how many new materials they need to collect

Overall, I feel that Minecraft has the potential to be one of the best number sense and numeracy video games out there. Educators can have fun, children be immersed in learning and Minecraft becomes a fun tool for mathematics. Let’s all go out and find potential video games which can be used to enhance the learning experience for children!

 

References

Nolan, J., & Mcbride, M. (2013). Beyond gamification: reconceptualising game-based learning in early childhood environments. Information, Communication & Society, 17(5), 594-608.doi:10.1080/1369118x.2013.808365

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

Multimodal Literacy —

Multimodal Literacy

Literacy can mean many things to different people. My viewpoint of literacy does not just involve the acquisition of reading and writing skills, but also skills in social perception and new media. In the present, technology plays a very large role in literacy as a form of multimodal literacy.

letter-1219547_960_720
What we typically think of as literacy

I believe that having access to multimodal literacy though technology gives children added benefits and advantages. An article discussing benefits of multimodal literacy practice defines collaborative multimodal dialogue between children as “inter-subjective meaning-making processes that occur through interaction and joint engagement in activity and are expressed through multiple communicative modes, such as gaze, gesture, movement and talk.” (Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R., 2010, p.388). A child using a tool such as computer opens up new possibilities for communication and literacy learning.

Although I believe traditional literacy learning is important, I also believe that educators need to be able to adapt to new mediums and tools for education.

“To participate effectively in twenty-first century literacy practices, it is necessary (i) to have access to human and material resources – people, books, objects, markmaking equipment, computers, mobile phones or internet connections; (ii) to have the skills to operate or engage with them effectively; and (iii) to have a critical understanding of the potential of diverse literacy tools: how they might be used in different ways and for different purposes. ” (Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R., 2010, p.386).

Think of what you can accomplish with the use of technology. Computers give children a way to communicate and practice literacy skills through social media. Games also allow children to experience literacy through 3D worlds, interactions and storylines. Exposure to technology gives children a different perspective and shows children that literacy can be more than just communication through writing and verbal interactions.

game-750845_960_720
Literacy is not just about writing words on paper in the 21st century

Technology itself can be a form of new literacy. Learning how to use new tools effectively can give children a new skill set which enables them to experience literacy with all of the sense.

If children do not have opportunities to use technology, then I believe that they miss out on  on learning new mediums to communicate. Learning how to write an email, instant message someone or video chat are skills that are relevant to the 21st century and are part of new age literacy.  “Understanding the role of digital technologies in the processes of young children’s literacy development is crucial to ensure that all children have equal access to opportunities to learn in schools today.” (Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R., 2010, p.397).

Technology is very rich and can help encourage literacy in many different ways. CD’s can be used to experience music or tell a story. Recorders can get children to create their own stories or to make messages. Technology can be a very social used when used in educational approaches.

Literacy experiences through technology are fun an engaging for children. In my last classroom placement children wanted to use the computer to make wordles and had fun playing with different words. Children would take time to craft these perfectly formed word webs and at the same time were practicing words they needed to know for their weekly spelling test. It was a great way to make literacy a fun experience for the children and the children benefited since they were able to broaden their vocabulary through technology as well as become more literate technology users.

Overall, I believe that multimodal literacy is a great concept and it does not have to just occur through technology. Children can engage in literacy through outdoor play and exploration. Children can also have literacy experiences through the ways in which they interact with peers and what children can learn about their own personalities and emotions. Anything where a child is successful in mastering communication and understanding through the senses can be a multimodal form of literacy.

 

References

Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R. (2010). New technologies, new multimodal literacy practices and young children’s metacognitive development. Cambridge Journal Of Education, 40(4), 387-399.

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

What Technology Works in the Classroom — April 12, 2016

What Technology Works in the Classroom

Technology has always been a vital tool for me in the classroom. I believe that technology has created a learning environment for children that is more open, creative and fun than ever before. Although there are articles that say technology use in the classroom is a good thing, it can be hard to decide what kind of technology has the capacity to work well in your classroom. “One tool today’s teachers are encouraged to incorporate as early as possible into the 21st century learners’ curriculum is technology.” (Ntuli, E., & Kyei-Blankson, L., 2012, p.2). Children in kindergarten and younger grades will be using technology that is very different from older children. Technology could also be a wasted resource depending on how curriculum is planned or what the personality of the students are.

iphone-410316_960_720
Technology makes documentation easier

My favourite technology tool to use in kindergarten classrooms was SMART boards . This innovative piece of technology looks like a typical whiteboard but it can do so much more. When I used it in the classroom, I would write the morning message on the board for circle time. A child would be able to come up and use their finger to follow along and read the message along with the rest of the class. It was a great way to help children sound out words and be interactive in the reading process! The SMART board was also used by children to participate in group play session using educational games. Children were constantly engaged and active while they played with the SMART board. The possibilities are endless with this fantastic classroom tool.

Another great tool that I found was the most useful was a simple digital camera. Children used the digital camera on a daily basis to document their projects, friends and environment. I also found it to be an amazing tool for my own documentation of learning around the classroom. It was a quick way to take a snapshot of projects and helped to remind me of the various events that took place throughout the day. It was also a useful tool since other children or educators were able to take it and document things that I may have missed throughout the day.

Projectors are a tool that that can add valuable media to a lesson. I especially found this tool to be useful when teaching in a grade 2 classroom. Although it can seem as though using videos can be a bad thing, a study found that when used correctly videos and media can truly add to the learning experience.”Results showed children who received the media supplement made greater gains on letter recognition, phonics, and print and story concepts.” (Blackwell, C. K., Lauricella, A. R., & Wartella, E., 2014, p.85). Children were engaged while attending to my lessons. I was also able to give the children visual and musical examples of concepts being covered in class. After showing the class a short song on plural nouns, I had children singing the words for the rest of the day.

iPad‘s were of course going to make it in this blog on useful technology. Many of the schools I have worked at in the past have been slowly integrating iPad’s into many of the classrooms for children to use. With a rich library of educational apps it is hard to ignore the benefits of including this tool in the classroom. Games are always a popular choice in the classroom and playing games has more benefits for children than you would first think.”Similar to project-based learning, game-based learning puts students in authentic situations that require them to think critically about solving problems .”(Farber, M., 2016, p.37). Children were always very engaged in activities or games with this tool. iPad’s also gave the children great literacy experiences with apps that had guided reading at appropriate reading levels for each child. Although I did enjoy the interaction children had with the iPad’s there were a few negatives to using this technology in the classroom:

1. There were never enough iPad’s for all of the children to use and it caused disagreements  .

2. Learning experiences were mostly solitary.

3. If using iPad’s it is always important to know what apps the children are playing. Many games claiming to be educational are the opposite and it is up to the discretion of the educator to know what should be available to the children.

sad-217252_960_720
It’s important to monitor technology use and to be fair

My final technology tool which I found worked well in the classroom is the computer. While working in classrooms I saw computers used for group play, as a resource for finding information and as a creative outlet for making things such as Wordles. Most effective was the computers use as an aid for students who had difficulties writing and using fine motor skills. A child who would become frustrated writing on paper became empowered on the computer and he was able to write using the computer as a tool . Like with the iPad, it is important to remember to monitor how the computer is being used and if it is constructive. I also found it important to be wary of disagreements between children as most classrooms only have access to one or two computers.

I hope that my experiences with technology have given you a better idea of which tools you want to incorporate in your environment. There is no perfect tool for everybody and I believe that it is important to find what works best to your teaching style and children. Good luck!

References

Blackwell, C. K., Lauricella, A. R., & Wartella, E. (2014). Factors influencing digital technology use in early childhood education. Computers & Education, 77, 82-90. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2014.04.013

Farber, M. (2016). Gamify your classroom. The Education Digest, 81(5), 37-42. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1754113535?accountid=13631

Ntuli, E., & Kyei-Blankson, L. (2012). Teacher assessment of young children learning with technology in early childhood education. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, 8(4). Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA305370169&sid=summon&v=2.1&u=rpu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=0695afe8c4c68b7ae8289e6b9079fe34

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

 

Bridging the Divide Between Hands-on Learning and Technology —

Bridging the Divide Between Hands-on Learning and Technology

Although technology is something that I embrace in the classroom, I still am still aware of the importance for children to experience hands-on, or experiential learning.

Experiential learning is defined in an article by Yardley, Teunissen and Dornan (2012) as “constructing knowledge and meaning from real-life experience.” (p.161). This means that children learn best when they can be active participants in real tasks.

In the past, I have worked with educators who have had negative ideas of technology in the classroom. One educator felt that using tools such as computers and iPad’s took away from real experiences for children. Although I believe that technology can be abused and used incorrectly in the classroom, as a tool there is no doubt in my mind that technology can make experiential learning a more diverse and open-ended experience.

Balance in the classroom is important, but just because an educator promotes experiential learning does not mean that technology use needs to be neglected. I believe that technology can work to enhance hands-on learning experiences for children and allow children to manipulate materials in an entirely new way.

Through my classroom experience I have seen the importance of providing children with hands-on learning experiences. “Young children learn through their five senses; therefore, providing hands-on experiences that allow children to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear is important.” (Kaltman, G.S., 2010). Technology is also able to work with children’s senses in many ways and work in collaboration with experiential learning.

In this blog I will go through examples of experiential learning experiences for young children that can be enhanced by technology use.

kid-1003737_960_720
Experiencing nature with digital tools

 

An article on TeacherThought talks about how students were able to use technology to rebuild historical ruins using 3D computer software so that they could explore architecture without actually being at the site.

Visual graphing apps can be used as a tool to aid children in brainstorming and experimentation

Give children digital cameras to document outdoor experiences, projects or memories

Child friendly blueprint software so that children can design plans for their 3D hands-on creations.

Online tools for making music can be used so that children can create their own auditory ensembles all without the need for purchasing instruments.

Nature apps which offer things like plant/animal identification, documentation tools,and mapping guides for parks.

Overall, I believe that there are so many ways in which children can use technology as a tool to achieve their learning. Hands-on learning is something that children will always have. Children are natural scientists and are constantly exploring their world. With the aid of a video camera, a child’s stick fort could now be the setting of an epic tale of castaway pirates. By giving a child a drawing app, they could then sketch up the plans for their grand masterpiece. There is no limit to what technology can allow children to do and I believe children have more freedom to create and tinker than ever before.

References

Yardley, S., Teunissen, P. W., & Dornan, T. (2012). Experiential learning: Transforming theory into practice. Medical Teacher, 34(2), 161-164. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2012.643264

Kaltman, G. S. (2010). Hands-on learning. Childhood Education, 87(2), S7+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA245884666&sid=summon&v=2.1&u=rpu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=c52122011f084cec2e71c25b7efb31a6

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

 

Pedagogical Documentation and Tweetchat — March 11, 2016

Pedagogical Documentation and Tweetchat

This week I had the opportunity to take part in my own new technology experience. I consider myself to be a digital native  so it was a great challenge to have to figure out something new and foreign.

twitter-1174824_960_720

I contributed in a Tweetchat where my Children and Technology class gathered together to discuss the implications and uses of pedagogical documentation. It was a fast paced hour where questions were introduced, debates took place and responses were given.

Overall, there was a very positive response to the idea of pedagogical documentation in the classroom. I believe it is important because it is a way in which we can see learning happen and showcase that learning to children and families. An Ontario government document on pedagogical documentation advocates the benefits of documentation for children.”When students are active participants in the documentation, they come to learn more about their own thinking. Through pedagogical documentation, they can develop and use metacognitive skills crucial for ongoing, lifelong learning.”(Pedagogical Documentation Revisited, 2015, p.2).

Documentation can occur on many platforms and over the years it seems that technology has proven to be a useful asset for educators to display learning.

children-drawing-65069_960_720
Digital documentation can preserve art that normally couldn’t 

In most classrooms I have seen documentation in the form of children’s work displayed around the classroom. Although it does showcase the projects, they can sometimes be forgotten. Many of the other students in the Tweetchat also agreed that in many cases parents throw away the many piles of paintings, drawings and scraps of paper that get sent home in a consistent basis.

Technology has given educators a way to display learning experiences and preserve children’s work with tools such as photographs, blogs, and now even certain apps such as HiMama which give families updates on children’s progress while they are in care facilities. Children also seem to get enthusiastic about documenting and I have had children in placement who want to help photograph their work. Having children see their own progress can be motivating and fun!

Although there are many benefits to pedagogical documentation, our Tweetchat discussed some of the issues and concerns with the idea surrounding privacy and exposure, especially with digital documentation.

Many of the arguments were that children’s photographs, names and information were on display for the world to see. As we know with the internet once a picture is sent out it is hard to get it erased. Another issue discussed was how educators would be neglecting children’s needs by spending unnecessary time documenting everything.

These are valid arguments, but nowadays things like blogs and websites have privacy settings on them to keep unwanted viewers out.  An educated and tech savvy educator who is using digital documentation should be aware of the privacy of their apps or blogs used. It is our responsibility as professionals to keep children and families safe. Another point to make is that parents typically have the choice of whether or not they want their child’s documentation to be accessible using technology. They have the right to say no.

security-265130_960_720

The last argument was about time spent documenting. Whether through digital means or pen and paper, RECEs and educators will always have documenting to do during the day. It was never an issue in the past and I believe that technology can actually make the process easier and more timely.

In the end I believe pedigogical documentation is great and the use of digital technology a huge revolution for the classroom. Being apart of the Tweetchat was a great way to share my opinions on documentation and to hear the voices of other individuals within my classroom.

I can’t wait to take part of another one soon!

References

Pedagogical Documentation Revisited.(2015). Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_PedagogicalDocument.pdf

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

Let’s Tinker! —

Let’s Tinker!

I have always considered myself to be an advocate for constructivism and inquiry-based teaching methods. My own personal teaching philosophy from my online portfolio states:

“I strive to express my opinions to allow children to feel free and open to express their own opinions and questions. One way in which I try to create a classroom of equity and tolerance is by having aspects of an inquiry based curriculum that allows children to develop the skills they need to be critical of culture and to form a more equitable environment. Children learn abilities such as critiquing, controversial debating, developing deeper understanding of knowledge and self-empowerment.”

boy-667804_960_720

Constructivist teaching has its criticisms since it deviates from formal teaching methods where the teacher is giving the children information to absorb. Rather, the children take the leading role in learning and “construct” their own knowledge through teacher guidance. Constructivist educators, “…are encouraged to make learning as ‘active’ as possible. Students do things in the classrooms, Pelech proposes: things other than simply listen, copy notes and drill.”(Taber, K.S., 2011).

An article by Taber shares how constructivist teaching methods are beneficial to children. “the purpose of constructivist teaching, or simply good teaching, is to find effective ways to help learners acquire the skills and knowledge set out in the curriculum in efficient ways. Efficient here meaning, in part, much quicker than if they were left to their own devices; but also in ways that preserve or improve the learner’s attitude to both learning and the subject matter.” (Taber, K.S., 2011)

Although constructivism will always be a focus for myself, there has been a rise recently in a new movement called connectivism. Connectivism has direct links to constructivism and values the child as an independent learner in the social environment of the classroom.

“Connectivist learning environments are seen as: • open to all perspectives; • encouraging diversity of viewpoints; • allowing individual autonomy to learners to contribute according to their own knowledge, values, and decisions; and • furthering interactive knowledge production” (Thota, N., 2015, p.88).

Tinkering

toys-950148_960_720

Now that I have talked about philosophies of teaching, lets see how it can be applied within the classroom. A method called “Tinkering” has become popular as way for children to problem solve, collaborate and create. I was even able to take part in a tinkering lab in one of my classes and with my group members worked to create a functioning marble run!

Tinkering pulls in the concepts of inquiry based learning and connectivism to get children thinking about big ideas. From my marble run, I was able to pull in aspects of physics, gravity, and friction.

Here are some ways in which you can encourage tinkering experiences:

Tinker Trays

Tinkering books 

Ted Talk on “fooling around” and “tinkering”

So encourage tinkering in the classroom or at home! You do even need to have specific supplies, part of the experience is using the resources that are available and making something wonderful out of it!

References

Taber, K. S. (2011). Guiding the practice of constructivist teaching. Teacher Development, 15(1), 117-122. doi:10.1080/13664530.2011.555229

Thota, N. (2015). Connectivism and the use of Technology/Media in collaborative teaching and learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2015(142), 81-96. doi:10.1002/tl.20131

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

Digital Curating – Tools for the Classroom —

Digital Curating – Tools for the Classroom

You may have heard the word “curator” used in the context of a museum or as someone who collects rare artifacts.

mona-lisa-690203_960_720
I picture museums when I think of curation

Digital curators also collect and organize, but they are interested in digital assets, not physical ones.

Digital curation is something that is very important for me as an ECS student. By being able to gather resources across different platforms on a subject, I have access to more information and teaching tools.  An article on digital curation states that “Digital information is all around us. More and more information is either born digital or digitally reformatted. A new generation of digital archivists and digital preservation specialists is needed to manage this information throughout its life cycle.” (Yakel, E., Conway, P., Hedstrom, M., & Wallace, D.., 2011, p. 23).It is up to us to create resources and tools that can aid us in our teaching journey. By curating we can help others as well as ourselves.

I remember using digital curation before I ever heard of the term. While in placement I would have to create learning experiences with certain curriculum focuses. I would always look to the internet as my first source of inspiration. I now have an entire bookmark section on my computer dedicated to ideas I found off websites or videos. I was a digital curator without even realizing it!

ipad-820272_960_720

So what can we use to begin curating? 

The first step is to pick a topic of focus to base your resources on. It could be a theme or curriculum goal.

After a theme is decided, it is time to begin putting your digital knowledge to the test! Facebook, Pintrest, blogs, apps, articles, YouTube and more can all be used to begin the curation process.

Lets do our own curation process as an example. Let’s begin with the theme of “Digital Technology use in the Classroom”

Blog on implementing technology in the classroom

Infograph on learning with technology

Raz-kids ebook resource for children 

Pintrest page for educational apps

YouTube video of free tech tools for teachers

ABCya! Fun interactive learning website for children

Facebook page on technology rich inquiry based research

This is just a small example of the many resources you can access and put together. There are many possibilities with digital curation and it is up to you how you want to format it.

Overall,  I believe that digital curation is the future for educators and can make planning as well as sharing ideas easier than it ever was before. Although there is still value in gathering physical resources like lesson binders or manipulatives, digital curation is something that can work alongside the physical to create a rich resource to pull from. An article by Yakel finds that, “Digital curation is an active area that has brought diverse the scientific, educational, and professional communities together with governmental and private sector organizations.”(Yakel, E., 2007, p.339).

girl-1034421_960_720
A physical version of curation – Also a great tool!

So lets work together to get connected and build digital communities with other professionals!

Resources

Yakel, E. (2007). Digital curation. OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives, 23(4), 335-340. doi:10.1108/10650750710831466

Yakel, E., Conway, P., Hedstrom, M., & Wallace, D.. (2011). Digital Curation for Digital Natives. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 52(1), 23–31. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25764651

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

Play in the Digital World —

Play in the Digital World

It can be said that play is a fundamental part to being a child. An article on environmental education stated that “open-ended play is important for young children because it provides opportunities for exploration and discovery, which are necessary for supporting learning.” (Cutter-Mackenzie, A., & Edwards, S., 2013). Children learn by a range of things from playing in the mud to putting together a puzzle. Even the most mundane play can encourage development. Although play comes in many forms, it seems that in many cases technology use is criticized as being a separate entity from play.

baby-84626_960_720

“The historical positioning of play in early childhood education is one of the reasons why play is most often described as a basis for learning, and yet continues to be separated from digital technologies.” (Edwards, S.,2013, p.203)

Some people just do not consider playing a video game or using a camera a form of constructive play. I can agree that in some ways digital technology may be nonconstructive when used poorly. If a child is passively watching Call of Duty YouTube videos for hours on end, then they are not expanding their brains and exploring their talents. Although this happens, technology offers so much more and should not be separated from play. Digital technology is ingrained in our present day culture and can be interacted with in much the same way as building blocks or puzzles.

child-1183465_960_720

Lets have a look at what digital play can teach children:

Our previous look at play stated that play involves EXPLORATION and DISCOVERY. How is it not exploration and discovery when a child figures out how to interact with a touchscreen or to solve a puzzle on a computer game. An article on digital play in the early years found that, “A child playing with an avatar is likely to have a fairly sophisticated grasp of how to separate meaning from object because she needs to know that ‘symbolically’ she herself is represented on the screen by the digital image.”(Edwards, S., 2013, p.204). Video games do not have to be mindless and time wasting, they require a lot of cognitive processing and problem solving.

Here are some other benefits to digital technology in play.

Active video games can actually encourage exercise.

Games and technology can be a social experience. it today’s world, we are actually more connected than we have every been in our lives. Students can even connect to each other in the classroom via Skype.

Enhance tinkering and STEAM experiences.

Bonding time! If it is something a caregiver enjoys or has a digital hobby, they can share that experience with a child.

Technology use is the play of tomorrow and has many positive outcomes”From a DCC perspective, play (according to the cultural historical tradition) continues to be culturally and temporally adaptive and so does not need to be thought of as separate from children’s technology use.” (Edwards, S., 2013, p.208-209). Let’s try to encourage quality technology play and create play experiences that are meaningful and fun using things such as iPads, SMART boards or computers.

Remember, everything in moderation! Happy playing 🙂

BONUS: a few good places to begin constructive technology play

MinecraftEdu – a version of Minecraft that can be used within the classroom

Camera – go out, explore and document!

Starfall app – lots of games with curriculum focus

video-game-1223913_960_720

References

Cutter-Mackenzie, A., & Edwards, S. (2013). Toward a model for early childhood environmental education: Foregrounding, developing, and connecting knowledge through play-based learning. The Journal of Environmental Education, 44(3), 195-213. doi:10.1080/00958964.2012.751892

Edwards, S. (2013). Digital play in the early years: A contextual response to the problem of integrating technologies and play-based pedagogies in the early childhood curriculum. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(2), 199-212. doi:10.1080/1350293X.2013.789190

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

Should we have Technology in the Classroom? — March 10, 2016

Should we have Technology in the Classroom?

From my time spent working in placement and attending ECS classes at Ryerson, I have been faced with an ongoing debate of whether or not digital technology should be used in the classroom. It is hard to take sides since both technology and non-technology education have their own unique merits. Technology can expand perspectives, give new means of creativity and allow information to be accessed at the touch of a button. Non-technology can provide children with experiential learning as well as real and social experiences.

water-fight-442257_960_720
Technology or No Technology?

In this blog I will be advocating for the use of technology in the classroom and why as educators we need to embrace technology.

First let us take a look at why technology worries some people.

children-403582_960_720
How much TV does the average child watch per day?

An article on media exposure stated that, “72% of children ages 0 to 8 years used a mobile device in 2013, up from 38% in 2011.” (Kabali, H. K., Irigoyen, M. M., Nunez-Davis, R., Budacki, J. G., Mohanty, S. H., Leister, K. P., & Bonner, R. L., 2015). That was a huge leap in technology use, and the article also implied that it is continuously increasing.

When so many children are using things like mobile devices, it is understandable that parents and educators are concerned about technologies harmfulness to growth and development.

Another study on media use noticed some alarming implications of passive technology usage. “Overexposure to traditional media use, such as watching TV, has been associated with obesity, sleep problems, aggressive behavior and attention deficits in preschool children.” (Haughton, C., Aiken, M., & Cheevers, C., 2015, p.505). It makes sense that watching videos for hours takes away from quality exercise and outdoor experiences.

Although these articles point out some of the negative aspects of technology, we are seeing only the negative side effects of when technology is used POORLY.

Digital technology does not have to be a passive activity. Digital technology also can be used as a beneficial tool in a classroom to aid learning and create meaningful experiences. In the right hands of someone who embraces technology and knows how to use it, technology can create a better learning environment. An article advocating technology integration stated,  “It has the potential to change the learning experience for participants from one of being passive recipients of an expert’s ideas of what should be taught and learned, to one where learners of all ages can actively navigate their own learning or co-construct knowledge with others (Dietze, B., & Kashin, D., 2013, p.3). Technology allows children to take the lead in their inquiry based learning. It also can be just as active and social as using any other tool within the classroom.

children-593313_1920
Working together

Technology is also something that we as educators cannot avoid. Children will always have access to digital technology and rather than trying to avoid and ignore it, we need to help guide children in proper use.”Technology will continue to advance and evolve. As educators we have a responsibility to reduce tensions that surrounds children’s play and technology.” (Dietze, B., & Kashin, D., 2013, p.9). Only with proper use will we see the benefits, just like with any other tool such as books or building blocks.

Overall the debate still continues on and in the end it is up to you to figure out what you think is best for children. Digital technology is still relatively new and there are not many studies which show irrefutable evidence that digital technology is either negative or positive. “while recently there has been an increase in literature studying handheld devices and the impact of these from a child developmental perspective it is nonetheless vital that more research is conducted to investigate the exposure of interactive media on the development of young infants over time.” (Haughton, C., Aiken, M., & Cheevers, C., 2015, p. 513). Technology is a valid tool to use within the classroom and through proper use can enhance the learning of young children.

References

Dietze, B., & Kashin, D. (2013). Shifting Views: Exploring the Potential for Technology Integration in Early Childhood Education Programs. Canadian Journal Of Learning And Technology, 39(4). Retrieved from http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/698/375

Haughton, C., Aiken, M., & Cheevers, C. (2015). Cyber Babies: The Impact of Emerging Technology on the Developing Infant. JPR Journal of Psychology Research, 5(9), 504-518.

Kabali, H. K., Irigoyen, M. M., Nunez-Davis, R., Budacki, J. G., Mohanty, S. H., Leister, K. P., & Bonner, R. L. (2015). Exposure and Use of Mobile Media Devices by Young Children. Pediatrics, 136(6), 1044-1050.

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)