Think differently: a Live Wires approach  

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

As many readers will know, Early Childhood Australia (ECA) has been committed to supporting educators in the digital space for many years. While in many ways our children are living in a digital age, ECA entered into this space cautiously, and as an academic and researcher (and ECA member) I support this approach. ECA has supported the sector for over 10 years through a range a professional learning activities, Live Wires events, online learning modules, blog posts, and of course the ECA Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies which was launched in 2018.

This work has always focused on putting young children first, with educators and teachers choosing when to use and when not to use digital technologies. Here, we encourage educators to critically reflect on what they are doing with young children and whether technologies would be an appropriate support or extension to our pedagogies. ECA has also provided a range of supports to help educators build skills and confidence with digital tools. These include resources such as the eSafety Early Years Program developed with the e-Safety Commissioner, Playing IT Safe developed with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, The Spoke blog posts that explore the challenges of digital documentation for our profession, and ideas for non-working digital technologies such as this Every Child article.

The ECA Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies encourages teachers to think about digital technologies in terms of:

  1. relationships
  2. health and well-being
  3. citizenship
  4. play and pedagogy

If you have not read this position statement, you can access it here.

It is not accidental that relationships, health and well-being, and citizenship come first. These are leading elements in this Statement (with work led by Professor Susan Edwards and Professor Leon Straker) as we do not want technology to be the focus of our work with young children, but to enhance, extend and enrich that work. Here, we call for a focus on quality interactions instead of time as a metric for technology and media, and use the analogy that technology is like a beach—a space where we as adults need to be actively engaged.

Given that it is five years since this Statement was released, it is timely (and exciting for this technology nerd!) that we are again focusing on digital tools and media in early childhood.  I’m thrilled to be joining Early Childhood Australia, in partnership with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child as we again host a Live Wires event. This one-day event, held in Brisbane on 27 June 2023, will be a chance for educators and researchers from around Australia to hear from the nation’s leading experts and educators, and to explore best practices and current research around young children and digital technology.

I’m honoured to be the host of this event and I’m really looking forward to exploring the ‘tech playroom’ where we will see some great new ideas and tools. This is a rare chance to explore research (such as the work of Professor Susan Edwards and Professor Susan Danby) as well as stories from practice (such as the work of Laure Hislop, Bei Bei Liu and Renee Mitchell).

For anyone interested in working with young children and digital tools, this is a great chance to explore the E’s of technology—how we can use it to extend, enhance, enrich and enable ourselves to do something differently. Friends, I hope to see you there.

Get ready to dive into the exciting world of digital technology with the 2023 Live Wires Digital Technology Forum! Join us on 27 June in Brisbane for a day filled with the latest smart tools, devices, apps, and interactive media for young children.

A must-attend event for you and your teams, this forum is the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow educators and experts from all over Australia.

Don’t miss out on this unique professional development opportunity! Register now.

Kate Highfield

Dr Kate Highfield is an experienced teacher, teacher educator and researcher, working at Australian Catholic University, based in Canberra. Kate has spent over twenty five years working as a classroom teacher and as a teacher educator and researcher. Kate’s work (supported by a range of grants and partnership projects) explores effective technology integration, with a focus on potential impacts on learning (for adults and children), pedagogy and play. This work specifically focusses on the use of technology in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top