Monthly Archives: January 2012

Technology + Early Childhood Education = Dilemma?

Image: 'Ferreñafe' by hostmaster. Some Rights Reserved

I have been thinking about the combination of technology and early childhood education (ECE) quite a bit the last few days. Of course, this is not particularly surprising given that I’m passionate about exploring ways to incorporate technology in ECE  and the possibilities for sharing and global collaboration that technology can create. Still, my most recent thoughts have been somewhat troubling and I want to reflect more on the dilemma I have been encountering in trying to combine technology and ECE.

As I delve more into the fields of educational technology and ECE, both personally and professionally, I’m frequently reminded of the pro-technology bubble I sometimes live inside. On a daily basis, I am in communication with my PLN, a group of people on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as face-to-face colleagues, who are already utilizing technology extensively. They are testing out new and exciting ways to use tech tools in their teaching practice and with their students and so I begin to forget how many others are not only not using technology but are completely skeptical or even opposed to it!

Living in a pro-tech-savy bubble has major benefits. It allows me to have 24/7 access to a community of people who push my thinking in regards to how technology can and should be used in the classroom and helps me to test out new technologies. I have the opportunity to ask questions, learn from these great tech users, and share my own tech knowledge. In the bubble, I feel like my goal of using technology to connect early childhood educators around the globe to share pedagogical practices and connect their students, is absolutely achievable and supported.

Then, there are days when I step outside the bubble and try to introduce my ideas about technology and ECE to others. On these occasions, I encounter confusion, skepticism, disregard, and/or disbelief about technology in ECE. I hear a different mantra than the idea, as NAEYC stated in their latest Technology Position Statement, than yes, technology can involve “the application of tools and materials to enhance children’s learning and development, interactions, communication, and collaboration.” Instead, the mantra is:

  • No, early childhood educators are not ready for these types of technologies and tools.
  • No, young children are not capable of using these tools.
  • No, technology is not developmentally appropriate for these young children.
  • No, technology is too difficult to for these teachers to handle.

Not only is there resistance to tech, as we discussed last week in #ecetechchat but there can be a complete rejection of technology, in large part it seems, due to a concern about teacher capacity to learn and use these technologies.

This is a mantra I find very disheartening. I believe that, when used appropriately and meaningfully, technology truly can enhance a young child’s educational experience, her or his growth and development. I believe that technology can expand a child’s world to encompass the entire globe and can provide an amazing resource for professional growth to early childhood educators. Yet, I am troubled by the fact that the value and meaning of these technologies may never be seen, if opportunities are not presented for early childhood educators to learn about them. How can early childhood educators begin to see, and classrooms grow to include, technology as a pedagogically valuable enhancement if the response is always “no” and there are no opportunities for teachers to learn more?

While this dilemma deeply concerns me, I take hope in the new initiatives that are beginning to sprout up to educate early childhood teachers about technology and ways it can be used with young children to enhance learning. For example, the new Erikson Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center, Technology Workshops by the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, free technology webinars by Hatch and Early Childhood Investigations and continued updates to the NAEYC Technology Position Statement, demonstrate that technology is beginning to be infused in early childhood professional development. Hopefully, in time, technology education can become as accessible and supported in ECE and for early educators as it is in other areas of education.

The Power of a Comment

Kristina B., Creative Commons Attribution.

It wasn’t until I joined the blogosphere that I realized the power of a simple comment. Before I started blogging myself, I would read other people’s blogs and sometimes peruse the comments that other readers had left behind, but I would never stop to comment myself. On one hand, I felt like I didn’t have anything specific or meaningfully to contribute and on the other hand, I just didn’t understand the importance of comments.

Comments are more than words on a page, particularly if it’s a page you have written yourself. Comments are symbolic, they represent the fact that a post you have written affected someone and meant something to the point that the person felt compelled to respond to you. The comment could be a challenge, a compliment, or even a question but whatever form it takes, it holds meaning. As a blogger, a comment helps to remind you that the blogosphere is a “connected community” and you are not alone with your ideas and opinions. That instead, you are part of a larger culture of sharing. This sharing is so exciting! To feel that you can start an idea, publish it, and send it out into the world wide web for others to build on, improve on, and respond to you with new perspectives or contradictions that you can learn from, is amazing.

This is why, more and more, I find myself stopping to not only read other bloggers but to comment on their posts. I hope to convey, with the power of a comment, how much I appreciated their sharing and how valuable I found their ideas. I want to let the blogger know that their post made me think and many times, that I learned something new. I’ve grown bolder in asking questions in posts and even leaving behind a suggestion or two if I have a relevant idea or resource to offer. And in this way, I feel like I can call myself a true part of the blogosphere community, because I have become a participant not just in the publication side but in the dialogical, sharing aspect that truly binds a community and builds a strong foundation of collaboration and caring.

What do others in the blogosphere community think? Is a comment powerful to you?