Since Voice announced an Early Childhood Australia (ECA) project on 21st century directions and best practice two years ago, we’ve unearthed a mountain of tips, research and myths as well as connections, people and ideas. It’s time for an update on the exciting resources and events for our sector.
The early childhood sector is at the heart of Australian family life and the economy. Along with family life and the economy, its future is being reshaped by broadband connectivity and new technologies.
‘Why does it matter for early childhood educators?’
Embracing possibilities aligns with many of the great early childhood theorists according to a new book by Dr Chip Donohue from Chicago’s Erikson TEC Center. Technology and digital media in the early years: tools for teaching and learning (2015) includes a fun chapter—‘What would Maria Montessori say?’—that joins the dots between early childhood theorists and digital technology.
It matters because early childhood is the time to engage young girls and boys in the ideas and tools that will steer their future. That’s the message from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who champions the early childhood educator’s role and whose portfolio funded ECA’s Digital Business Kit. (See the Minister making clay teacups and talking about young children, technology and more in the Digital Business Kit at www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/digital).
‘But I can’t keep up with technology’
‘You are only behind if you refuse to take a step forward’, says Dr Chip Donohue. ‘We’re all learning’, he says and stereotypes about who ‘can do tech’ do not reflect reality.
‘Children get enough technology at home’
‘That’s why children and families need educators to guide and engage on technology’, says Dr Kate Highfield from the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University. Both Donohue and Highfield have been writing, thinking and teaching about technology in early childhood for many years and are keynote presenters at ECA’s Live Wires Forums in October (see below for details).
So what began as a project for a Digital Business Kit has become much more. Check out these resources.
Live Wires Forums—attend this unique one-day event (Perth—14 October; Brisbane—16 October; Sydney—21 October) to network and learn with Dr Chip Donohue, Dr Kate Highfield, Dan Donahoo and Anita L’Enfant.
For details and to register for the Live Wires Forum go to: www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/live-wires-forum
Live Wires magazine—edition two of ECA’s technology publication will be out soon, with a new price and parent, educator and techxpert views and reviews on tech for early childhood.
Getting up to speed—free, online and downloadable, the Digital Business Kit has modules, fact sheets, tip sheets and videos for children’s education and care, educator professional development and collaboration and tips for business. Go online to explore at: www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/digital.
More at ECA online—keep up with links, articles and research at ECA’s blogs ‘Digichild’ www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/digichild, ‘The Spoke’ www.thespoke.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au and ‘Live Wires Online’ www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/live-wires.
Further afield—people and places to watch include Donna Cross (Telethon Kids Institute WA), Suzie Edwards (Australian Catholic University), Joanne Orlando (University of Western Sydney), Leon Straker (Curtin University), Lydia Plowman (UK), Discovery Space (University of Wollongong), Dust or Magic and The Children’s Technology Review (USA).
What would Maria Montessori say?
We think she would carefully assess and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by technology for early childhood education and care.