Early childhood tech sceptics and converts get down to business

A year of hard work, fun and key people from the sector came together in a fabulous celebration of the Digital Business Kit on Friday 14 November 2014.

Technology in early childhood: looking for proof or future proofing? was the theme at a High (Tech) Tea supported by event partners Datacom and Storypark. Invited guests joined a lively panel discussion facilitated by Early Childhood Australia (ECA) CEO Samantha Page—that’s Sam pictured in the google glasses—and panellists Mark Woodland (owner of those same google glasses and Woodland Education), Dan Donahoo, of Project Synthesis and ECA Tech Speed Dating fame, Anita L’Enfant Educational Leader with Datacom and Alexandra Harper from Redlands School.

Short videos kicked off discussion. Mark’s tales of high tech business applications dazzled some and rattled others. Sceptics and converts put their views.

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Dan, firmly in the ‘technology for education’ corner, welcomed comment from self-professed ‘Luddites’—the people we need to hear from to get the mix right, he says. Alex and Anita drew on their considerable experience of using technology with children, and their work building technology rapport among educators and parents. Anita finished with a call to keep it simple and try one or two things to get started.

Karen Curtis from ACECQA weighed in with an observation about Australia’s ongoing tussle with privacy and data collection. As consumers we behave differently than as citizens. We seem happy to give our data to companies in exchange for memberships, free access, VIP status and discounts but shrink from government attempts to collect information or join up information. Among other contributors, Lisa Bryant raised the potential digital divide, Jane Morgan from University of Wollongong and Professor Joanne Orlando from University of Western Sydney put their cases for using technology to support families and build professional development.

Sydney’s heat, G20 travel complications, great distances and competing local events did not reduce the buzz. Our particular thanks for their travel and support go to Anita L’Enfant from Datacom Melbourne, Peter Dixon from Storypark NZ, the Department of Communications and the office of Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

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It was a day to focus on the business side of technology. ECA hopes to bring more opportunities in 2015 to engage with each other and with technology for business as well as learning in early childhood.

As personal life, government, business and education increasingly overlap, Wendy Shepherd from Mia Mia left us with a call for more thoughtful approaches to the ethics of collecting images and data on children. Whose interest does it serve? Watch the videos above and tell us what you think.

Clare McHugh

Clare McHugh is Early Childhood Australia's (ECA) Strategic Communications Executive, working on projects that support ECA’s reputation as a trusted voice for young children, their families, educators and carers. Clare has been part of ECA's Learning Hub Team, managed ECA's Start Early. Respectful relationships for life project and ECA digital initiatives including the federally funded Digital Business Kit and Live Wires. Clare has been thinking and writing about children, family and social policy for a number of years, including for the Commonwealth Child Care Advisory Council and the Australian government.

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