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.
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.
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)