By: Dr. Dale McManis, PhD, Research Director at Hatch Early Learning
There is growing recognition of the importance of incorporating technology in meaningful and authentic ways into classroom curriculum and day-to-day practices, and of the teacher’s crucial role in the full development and use of technology in the early childhood classroom. The May issue of the Young Children journal from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) focuses on the topic “Technology and Young Children” and includes an article I wrote with my colleague Susan B. Gunnewig, “Finding the Education in Educational Technology with Early Learners”. In the article we discuss how to identify appropriate educational technology and how to integrate that technology in early learning classrooms to generate significant impacts on learning outcomes.
Key elements and factors involved in using technology in a classroom setting are addressed, including access to technology and to what extent the hardware and software are developmentally appropriate and interactive. We highlight cognitive, technical and active scaffolding, the aspects of learning most directly affected by technology, and how to support and build a balanced, technology-inclusive learning environment.
The article outlines the importance of active planning for effective technology integration and increased child engagement. We also demonstrate the importance of first setting specific learning goals for any technology-based activity. We discuss why quantitative results from a progress monitoring system are critical, how they can indicate learning outcomes, and what constitutes appropriate progress monitoring.
Read the article online to also download the eBook which accompanies and includes the Toolkit that can assist in the technology evaluation process.