Preparing for an ECA webinar this week on Being an Intentional Educator, got me thinking about intentionality and the use of technology in education and care settings. Educators have intentions or views about technology that go from being challenged and excited by technology and finding ways to embrace it, and at the other end of the continuum, educators being intentional about ignoring technology as a possible context and tool for learning. Somewhere else on the continuum of intentionality is the use of technology such as videos or computers as ‘treats’ or for ‘entertainment’ purposes for children at special times. If digital technologies are a powerful reality in children’s lives, then ignoring or marginalising their potential doesn’t seem to meet the concept of building on children’s interests, strengths and abilities.
Just as we use or share print based texts such as books with children from birth, digital technologies also can be shared with very young children. I have seen toddlers ‘documenting’ their favourite spaces or experiences using a digital camera. Looking at what the toddlers photographed gave the educators new insights into what captivated or interested them. Some educators intentionally exclude technology on the basis that it reduces time for play and social interaction. But children can be playful and very talkative when interacting with a small group or a partner as they engage with an educational app on a computer or tablet. Like any learning experiences, a balanced approach to using technology is important. Educators can make thoughtful and intentional decisions in collaboration with families about what technologies they will share or use with children and for what purpose.
Technology is not just a powerful part of children’s lives it is also a powerful part of educators’ lives and can be utilised for supporting the ‘business’ aspect of education and care services as well as for improving access to professional learning. Participating in webinar learning experiences for example is an effective, efficient way to access and engage in professional learning with others. Using the technology involved in webinars builds skills that can be helpful or adapted when using technology with children. Older children for example, can create power points about their play and learning to share with others including their families. Your confidence with and ethical use of a range of digital technologies will send positive messages to children. Asking children’s permission to take their photograph, or making your purpose clear for taking a photograph, is good role modelling for children in the ethical use of technology.
Intentionality means being thoughtful, purposeful and deliberate about all aspects of the curriculum and pedagogy including technology.
You can participate in Dr Anne Kennedy’s webinar about Being an intentional educator on 12 May by clicking here to book (places are limited). More information about intentional uses of technology in early education is available from the Digital Business Kit, click here for Module 2 or go the Digital Business Kit home page to find videos, factsheets, tips and resources. Or click here to learn more about the ECA Learning Hub.