Teachers who are allowed the space to exercise their professional judgements in the use of technology, in a way that complements the play based nature of kindergarten, are seeing its benefits in early childhood education applications. Journalist Sara El Sayed speaks with members about their experiences using two apps in the early childhood context: the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) app, and the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) app.
What is ELSA?
The Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) is described as a play-based digital learning program, in the form of an iPad application, for children in kindergarten and preschool.
ELSA’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) practices aim to encourage children to ask questions, make predictions, experiment, and form reflections.
The app has been developed by the University of Canberra to support the National Innovation and Science Agenda’s Inspiring all Australians in Digital Literacy and STEM measure, which seeks to increase the participation of Australian children in STEM and improve their digital literacy.
The program is currently in its pilot stages, with a number of centres across Australia participating.
Four iterations of the app were to be released throughout 2018.
The first app was based around patterns and relationships, and the second around location and arrangement. At time of writing the third app was to be released within September, and the fourth by the end of the year.
IEUA-QNT member and Director at C&K Oakey Kindergarten Christina Petrie said while technology can provide a great opportunity to share and learn, it’s important to be conscious of guiding children so that they use technology wisely.
“We model the responsible, creative and curious use of technology.
“We want children to actively use technology, not just passively consume it.”