Monthly Archives: June 2012

What I Learned at the NAEYC PDI 2012

Taken by Giovanni Arroyo

Last week, I had the chance to attend my first National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Professional Development Institute (PDI). I have attended the larger, annual conference many times but this year, after being selected as a Lasting Legacy Scholar, I was able to make it to the much smaller (around 2,000 people) PDI, which focused on: Leadership throughout the Early Childhood Profession: Research, Policy and Practice.

I was excited for the institute theme because leadership is a key ingredient in creating change and can be a scarce commodity in this field since so many educators are busy fighting to be considered professionals and overcome stereotypes about early childhood education. Additionally, through my work with the Tech Play Date at the PDI, I was interested to see what kinds of discussions would emerge about the need for leadership in developmentally appropriate technology integration in early childhood. There has been increased talk and sharing online about ways to learn more about how technology can be used as a tool to facilitate learning and expression in early childhood since NAEYC and Fred Rogers joint position statement on technology was released and I was curious to see if that would also be visible at the conference.

I learned so much at the Institute, not just from attending sessions but from talking and networking with other professionals and listening to what other attendees had to say. You can read a more in-depth overview of what I learned and what others’ learned at the conference in a Storify I compiled of tweets from the conference.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the sharing and discussion that occurred during the Tech Play Date. It was great to see early childhood philosophy about the benefits of play in practice as educators took time to play and explore iPads, smartphones, and other devices to see how they could be used in developmentally appropriate ways. Additionally, a range of groups, including teacher educators, administrators, developers, and policy makers all came together in small groups to discuss why technology should or should not be integrated in the classroom and what challenges (and solutions!) they have found. You can find more of the specific apps, questions, ideas, and resources we discussed in our shared Google Doc.

I also loved hearing the range of opinions, ideas, and experiences others brought to the conference. Regarding technology, these ranged from skepticism about the  benefits of technology use to the need to pair developers and educators together to create more developmentally appropriate apps for the classroom. It was informative for me to talk with attendees and remember the range that exists  in terms of how comfortable people are with the new tech position statement, as well as the resources that they have available to truly implement it in their programs. I had a number of discussions about the digital divide and the struggle to fund technology integration, as well as professional development with people at the conference.

Our collaboratively designed “Image of the Child” from a Reggio session

Additionally, I enjoyed attending a few globally-focused sessions that encouraged educators to think about other approaches to early childhood education, such as Reggio-inspired practice. I was inspired by a research project that is taking place between U.S. and Italian teachers in Milan, who are exchanging video of their teaching practice to provoke dialogue and reflection about their existing practice. Some of the questions they are asking about attachment theory, ways of relating to children, and ways of trusting and respecting children seem vital to growing as educational leaders and improving the quality of care for all children. I hope these types of projects will only increase with technology, as it becomes easier and cheaper to connect and collaborate across states and oceans and share ideas about pedagogy and practice.

Overall, I walked away from the conference with three key takeaways:

  1. There are immense benefits in bringing together and supporting professionals in research, policy, and practice across the field of early childhood education to talk with one another and we could gain a lot by making these multi-group dialogues more frequent.
  2. Mentoring is a key part of leadership. In order to create new leaders, the current leaders in our field need to support those who are just starting out and we should all work together to provide guidance and support to others in the industry.
  3. The release of the new tech position statement was only step one. Now we need to focus on professional development, the creation and implementation of developmentally appropriate technologies, and the recording and sharing of best practices in meaningful, open-ended technology use in the classroom.
Were you at the PDI this year or did you follow along online? What were your big takeaways? 

Building an Infographic? Begin with a Blueprint.

infographic data

Recently, I had the chance to design and create my first infographic for some survey data collected on technology use in early childhood education. I was excited by the opportunity because it presented a new challenge and the chance to expand my tech skills in a new area.

I began, as I often do, with research. I reviewed some of my favorite infographics that I have saved on Pinterest to get a feel for what I was  looking for in my design. Then, I did a few Google searches to see what the top hits were for “creating infographics,” “designing your own infographic” and similar keywords. I was surprised at how old many of the top hits were, especially with sites like visua.ly recently launching their “create” function.

Still, after some digging I was able to find some good resources. There are a number of different sites that can help you create your own infographic. They vary in price and functionality and since I wasn’t interested in the $2,500 starting price for a custom infographic at visual.ly and needed to do more than pull data from Twitter or Facebook, I searched for other tools. I found infogr.am, which lets you choose from a few templates and then upload or add your data but there wasn’t an easy way to add my own icons, which was important for my design plan. Next, I discovered Piktochart and found that I could have a lot of flexibility with the colors, fonts, icons, and charts I used, even with their free service. Another platform, easl.ly, looks like it could also be promising but it’s still in beta and I found it after I had made my infographic and had some trouble with it freezing. Finally, this post on creating infographics just came out on 6/12 and has a number of additional resources.

Since I knew I wanted customized icons to clearly represent my data, I chose Picktochart as my platform and began to explore what was possible with the site and how to arrange my data. I quickly discovered that before I could make progress with my digital infographic, I needed to revert to old-fashioned pen and paper and sketch out a blueprint of my idea. In order for the content to be organized and flow methodically, I had to work out the connections between each piece of data and which ones were best displayed via a graph versus icons versus text. Ultimately, I used the key questions of: Who?, What?, When?, How?, and Why? (and why not?) to structure the flow of the data. Then after outlining everything on paper, I returned to Piktochart to put my blueprint into a digital format.

I adjusted the theme colors and fonts and then began searching Icon Archive for symbols that would represent my data (e.g., a smartphone). You can upload a maximum of 5 images under 1 MB using the free version of Piktochart and I have to say that when I ran into trouble deleting images (the trick is to delete them under Manage Uploads), their customer support was very responsive and helpful! After adding all of my icons and creating a systematic way of presenting each of my big questions, I reviewed my infographic in its entirety and asked a few colleagues to check it over. A second pair of eyes is always helpful to make sure the information will flow and make sense to another audience.

After that, I downloaded my infographic as an image (if you have the paid version you can also download the HTML) and now it’s ready for the world to see! You can find a small clip of it below and the full version is available on ecetech.net.

infographic