Written By: Ginny Norton
Publish Date: Dec 18, 2013
What a great way to end our Fall 2013 Hatch Experts series! We had a record turnout for "What's REALLY Happening with Technology in Early Childhood Programs" and a great conversation about classroom technology practices. If you didn't get a chance to attend live, I would strongly suggest checking out the recording. If you attended live you might be aware that one of our presenters, Fran Simon, was called away for emergency surgery and was not able to attend the live presentation. Our thoughts are with her as she continues to recuperate. The live presentation was presented as planned by Dale McManis, MEd, Ph.D. and Karen Nemeth, Ed.M. As always, we left a little time for our presenters to answer questions at the end, but we had several excellent questions that we just didn't have time for. I was able to catch up with Dale and Karen to get to the bottom of those questions.
1. Are there plans to expand your survey to other individuals in education that might be using technology such as librarians or media specialists?
Karen: No - we don't have plans to run another study of practices in other fields. We do work closely with librarians and have co-presented and co-posted with Cen Campbell - founder of Littleelit - so we know these questions are important, but we don't have plans to study them ourselves.
Dale: I would add to Karen's response that we still have quite a lot of data we are working on publishing and presenting. We have been very pleased with the response to the results we have presented to date and this example of people thinking about the need to broaden the respondent base is exciting. It is our hope that our work will inspire others to explore technology use with early learners by other individuals in other roles.
2. Could you comment on the conflicting research about the effects of media/technology on young children?
Karen: We don't see the research as conflicting. We see the interpretation, publicity and implementation of what people think they read as conflicting. Up to this point, most scientists who are for or against technology will admit that none of the studies are really strong enough or large enough to support a clear conclusion about the effects of technology on young children. I always say - it's not the tool that's good or bad... it's how the tool is used.
Dale: I agree with Karen, and would add that no single study is ever definitive in any field; what is needed is a body of research. While that's coming along it's important that everyone who can contribute to the literature-base does so.
3. Based on your survey and the background you have in the field, do you have any suggestions for directors and teachers in half-day programs?
Karen: I agree that the half day schedule makes it hard for teachers to make choices. I suggest that it would be better to really get into an engaging technology-based learning activity with depth and enough time even it if's only once a week or once a month - rather than short, superficial exposure every day.
Dale: If one views the technology as a way to bring experiences to the children rather than trying to find "technology time" in the schedule I believe this can help teachers who have the children for shorter periods of time. This speaks to the nature of integrating technology seamlessly into the curriculum.
4. Do you have any suggestions for teachers as far as professional development resources to help them feel more comfortable with integrating technology in an effective way?
Dale: Getting together in a group or team as you use the resources is also a great idea. This will allow many perspectives and also can facilitate the distribution of responsibilities.