The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services publish a policy brief on the use of technology with early learners to help families and early educators implement active, meaningful and socially interactive learning.
The brief, which was developed in consultation with the American Academy of Pediatrics, will help those who care for the nearly 36 million early learners ages birth to 8 years make wise decisions about media use, and provides four guiding principles for families and early childhood educators on the use of technology with young children.
The guiding principles are:
- Technology, when used properly, can be a tool for learning.
- Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.
- Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children.
- Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.
“The early learning community has been wisely cautious about using technology with our youngest children,” said Libby Doggett, DoEd deputy assistant secretary for Policy and Early Learning. “But technology, when used appropriately with caring adults, can help children learn in new ways – and lessen the growing inequity in our country.”
The report provides a number of specific examples.
- Supporting interpersonal relationships: A military family used video chatting software to enable their two daughters aged 2 and 4 to keep in touch almost daily with their father, an Army major, during his deployment in Iraq. The family reported that the connection made his deployment “more bearable” for him and “eased his return home” for the girls because it allowed him to be part of their daily lives.
- Fostering the development of school readiness skills: Preschoolers at Austin STEM Academy noticed that the guinea pigs in their class observatory looked cramped inside their cage, so they suggested building a new home. With the help of instructors, the children consulted an application (app) that described guinea pig habitat needs and then collaboratively designed a blueprint for their new guinea pig home. The project helped students develop strong early critical thinking and problem solving skills while executing their plan.
- Language development and communication: A teacher vetted and selected a multimedia storytelling app so that a 4-year-old boy in Athens, Georgia who only spoke Chinese was able to create a digital story with a tablet to share details about his home life. The project, complete with photos from home and narration in both English and Chinese, allowed the other students to hear his story in his own words. The digital family story helped him become more integrated into the classroom community and improved his English language skills.
- Exploration and learning: A kindergarten classroom in a Southeastern U.S. city used digital cameras, digital microscopes, and drawing software to learn about fossils, bones, and dinosaurs through an archaeological “dig” in their classroom. Sifting through a sand table, the students used the cameras and microscopes to record their experience of discovering plastic bones and dinosaurs. The children then had the choice of creating a multimedia book using drawing software or a handwritten report on their discoveries and what they learned.
In 2013, the Obama Administration launched the ConnectED initiative (https://goo.gl/ynYs1a) and set a goal of connecting 99% of America’s students to next generation broadband and high-speed wireless by 2018. This expanded access will support the effective use of technology to transform learning in our nation’s schools. The Administration also has worked to expand access to high quality early learning, including early STEM education. The thoughtful use of technology by parents and early educators can engage children in key skills such as play, self-expression, and computational thinking which will support later success across all academic disciplines.
Info: https://goo.gl/2K0n1d (report).