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.
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.
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)