Hi Jen. Great question. I am working in an environment where teachers are less familiar with technologies than the children. I think there is a difference between the level of capability that teachers need when using laptops (ie. using word documents) in comparison to iPads and apps. Children very quickly drive their own use of iPads as they intuitively try things out and find success. As Tara says, teachers can learn so much from working alongside and watching children. I think the most important thing that teachers need to be able to do is to select the most appropriate apps to use on the iPads.
I can attest to the valuable ways that these technologies can enhance and extend children's learning, and build a stronger community that supports learning. For me the biggest insight I have had has been to see how using technologies such as iPads can have unexpected outcomes. I work with a large number of children who do not share a common first language (English is often their 3rd language). iPads seem to transend the lanuage barrier for groups of these children and some amazing relationships develop. It is absolutely fascinating.
ECE changes all the time, as new ideas, research, theories, and practice come to light. Technology is part of that. Teachers should be keeping up to date all the time and the responsibility to ensure teachers are up to date, is the management. It is not good enough for a service to claim we are not providing technology because we dont kno0w how to do it. Is this the same as providing a socio-cultural assessment or any other new idea.
This was a good question and should make for a good debate.
Hi Jen Your post has drawn such fantastic responses so thanks for posing the question. It is really helpful for the many other teachers I come across who have the same wonderings as you.
The thing that makes digital technology valuable (or not as the case maybe) in ECE contexts is good teaching rather than the gear itself. It is just the same as for other activities we offer such as the outdoors or art, the richness of learning largely depends on the teacher. Granted, there are a couple things regarding ICTs that are useful to learn about - good apps that support our curriculum is one, digital safety another. But beyond these nothing works better I find than giving teachers time and permission to play with technology and sometimes be learners alongside the children (Jocelyn's point).
I agree with Heather that teachers need to be continually reviewing their practices in light of current thinking and this goes as much for their teaching through waterplay or early literacy as it does for digital technologies.