I remember feeling very progressive when I purchased my daughter her first educational software, Reader Rabbit, in the early 1990s. Now a 22 year-old college graduate, she and many like her have never known a world without computers. Not only does she use an internet-enabled phone to constantly communicate, but her job as an emergency room nurse requires computer skills as well. So, needless to say, I am a strong proponent of using educational technology, both in the classroom and at home. Whether we like it or not – it’s a part of our daily lives now.
But that is only the first of a couple of reasons I support the use of technology with young children.
A second reason is that the use of educational technology in early education programs tends to level the educational playing field between those who have this access at home and those that do not. Being able to use computers and other technology at school can help all children develop the necessary life-skills needed in our technologically focused society.
Many experts recommend that all early childhood classrooms have an educational technology center that includes a computer, a printer, a digital camera, age-appropriate educational software, and access to the Internet. We would like to suggest that these centers also include a variety of educational DVDs and videos for those students who learn best with the added audio visual element that these mediums provide. Because children learn differently, at different rates, requiring different stimuli, when integrating technology into the lessons, it is important to plan to use all forms of technology – not just a few.
When creating such a technology center, here are some things to remember.
o Technology is not a replacement for the teacher. Technology elements, whether computers or educational DVDs and videos, are merely tools designed to help children learn. The teacher is still the guide.
o Consideration the applicable students’ age, developmental levels, and individual needs when selecting software, videos, and other technology.
o Don’t forget the parents. Collaborate with them and impart the importance of their involvement when their children are watching an educational television program or playing/working with computers.
o Monitor children’s use of all forms of technology that use earphones. Some research suggests that the volume at which children listen to the music can be extremely harmful.
In other words, what educational technology needs, to be properly integrated into the classroom is a good old-fashioned lesson plan.