In this article, Emma Goto argues that technology can be used well, or poorly, and sets the scene for a series of reviews of interesting apps.
We live in increasingly connected times. Smartphones and other Internet enabled devices seem to be ubiquitous. Most of us recognise that while technology can bring significant positives, there are also negatives and potential risks. There are many debates to be had about healthy uses. When we consider our youngest learners, the conversations can become particularly heated. With views somewhat polarised. House (2012) argues that, ‘very compelling reasons to conclude that ICT technologies are harmful for young children’s development and learning’ (p. 105). Whereas, Morgan and Siraj-Blatchford (2013) make the case for providing opportunities to play with technology in the Early Years stating that, ‘confidence gained from playing with ICT will support the development of ICT capability in more formal contexts as the child gets older.’
My view is that there are both positive and negative uses of technology. If we are encouraging children to use technology, we should be carefully about how it is being used. It is likely that many of us have observed times when young children have been sat passively in front of technology. Perhaps an iPad or a smartphone was fulfilling the role that the television had in the decades before. Technology can be used as a virtual baby sitter and at these times often communication and active learning are at a minimum. As an Early Year’s teacher I strived to get children communicating. I believe that when technology is used well, there are opportunities to enhance creativity and encourage communication.
If we want teachers to use technology in a positive way with young learners, they need to understand about the different technology available to use. Therefore, in my upcoming posts on this blog, I intend to share apps and technology that can provide opportunities for young children to create, imagine and communicate.
House, R. (2012) ‘The inappropriateness of ICT in early childhood: arguments from philosophy, pedagogy and developmental research’ in: S. Suggate & E. Reese, (ed) Contemporary Debates in Childhood Education and Development. Abingdon: Routledge.
Morgan, A. & Siraj-Blatchford, J. (2013) Using ICT in the Early Years: Parents and Practitioners in Partnership. London: Practical Pre-School Books.
Emma Goto is Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at the University of Winchester