In the midst of the seemingly perpetual wave of new and improved devices, gadgets and applications, the essential role of teachers and kindergarten staff may be overlooked. These staff are critical to the use of technology in the classroom and strengthening the play-based nature of early childhood education.
The discussion of the impact of technology in the classroom, and particularly in a kindergarten context, often focuses on the use and incorporation of IT in the classroom; however, that is not the only technology present in an education setting.
Education professionals are constantly developing their strategies with improvements informed by their own real, lived experience working with children. Technology is finding new and more engaging ways for children to learn. Technology is identifying a special ability in a child and fostering success in that child with planned, intentional pedagogical approaches. Technology is observing how a child interacts in the play-based environment and making critical judgements based on these observations. Technology is not just introducing a child to an iPad – it’s finding out what works, what doesn’t, and doing what works.
This is not to say IT cannot complement the practice of teachers and staff – but we must be mindful of the way it can complicate, and distract from the valuable play-based nature of early childhood education.
Academics argue that IT use within a play-based learning environment is possible when used appropriately and with balance to enhance and extend the curriculum. Such an approach requires active and intentional use alongside the teacher’s careful planning.
As a collective it is important for us to realise the extent of what we do and our contributions to the education of young Australians. Our profession is integral to forming and framing our society, and we must reclaim it from those attempting to diminish its significance.
Providing kindergartens with iPads might create some IT advancement, but it is the work of our teachers and kindergarten staff that propels valuable technological advancement in education.