Join #ECEtechCHAT on Leap Day (well, leap evening here in the US anyway) 2/29 at 9 PM EST to explore the use of technology before, during and after field trips. Come ready to share tech tips, ideas, and strategies that help you or a teacher you know make the most of field trips with technology.
Our chat last week was a robust exchange of ideas, tips, tricks, and tools for digital photography in ECE. The transcript is a treasure trove of great inspiration.
Join us on Twitter every week on Wednesday at 9 PM to explore topics related to technology use in ECE. Just follow #ECEtechCHAT.
This week, we will explore the role of social media in professional learning networks in early childhood. This week, @Mpowers3, Maggie Powers, will take the helm of the chat to delve into the following questions:
1) How do you know who to add to your PLN?
2) How do you use social media to communicate with your personal/professional learning network (PLN)?
3) How can you make your PLN a supportive, informative, and strong community?
4) What are some ways your digital PLN can be a resource for your face-to-face interactions and work in early childhood?
QUESTION TO THE #ECETECHCHAT COMMUNITY: Do you think we should hold the chats every other week instead of every week? Pros? Cons?
ECEtechCHAT 2.8.2012 at 9 PM EST
Share your thoughts about using technology for professional development and staff engagement in your school or program!
1) Is your school, organization or program planning for and intentionally using technology for professional development?
2) What combinations of tech tools, techniques, and methods work best to provide sound professional development for educators?
3) Can asynchronous elearning, webinars and other synchronous online learning provide a complete experience, or is more needed?
4) What role does social media play in intentional professional development? Is it organic, or do you plan for social media use as an element of PD?
Bring your ideas , links, and questions to the party!
Our topic for 2/1 (at 9 pm) is “How to use technology to engage and involve parents in ECE programs and organizations” It;s a big topic that go in a lot of directions.Here are some guiding questions to consider as you plan for the chat:
1) Parent engagement and involvement are very different.
What role does technology play in connecting with parents? What is the role of social media? What about other tools?
2) How do you use or envision technology being used to engage and involve parents?
3) What do you do to narrow the digital divide for parents/families?
4) Of course: What are the best applications (that means Internet systems as well as apps),devices, and processes for engaging and involving parents?
Transcripts from last week’s chat about mobile devices
As always, you have touched the heart of the matter in this piece. With the responsible and intentional use of technology, educators have the ability to transform classrooms, just as educators in in K-12 and higher education. But, there is a profound disparity that sets early education far behind other sectors of education: As a rule, the vast majority of early childhood programs do not have the professional development, support networks, infrastructure, and equipment upon which other sectors of education are built. It’s not so simple to just specify what teachers need. Jumping into the technology mainstream is far more complex for early educators.
Aside from publicly funded Pre-K programs, early childhood educator qualifications and training vary widely. Administrators and teachers often lack the technology know-how, resources, support networks, and experience of their counterparts in other education sectors. With these issues as a backdrop during a period of rapid proliferation of educational technology development, it is important to acknowledge the lack of funding for educational technology. While I often see grant opportunities for K-12 programs, I rarely see similar offers that include early childhood programs.
Knowing what we know about what teachers and administrators need to be intentional about technology use doesn’t help if there is no money for infrastructure and no state guidelines/expectations for early childhood programs. We need a call to action for public and private funding similar to those offered in the K-12 sector.
Fran Simon, M.Ed.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
It’s interesting to see how people who are weary of change react when change becomes inevitable. Take, for example, the recent flap over the draft update to the NAEYC Technology Position Statement. Some very respected leaders in early childhood education, including Diane Levin, Meg Merrill, and Susan Linn, have taken exception to the draft, and have issued a “call to action” to the field to respond to the draft. While I also urge everyone to take (hopefully) one last chance to weigh in on the draft, I (with all due respect) take exception to some of the extreme assertions and misinformation they published about the draft.
Now, bear in mind that this Position Statement has been in the works for more than a year, and there was already one comment period. The authors incorporated the comments into the most recent draft. In order to accommodate all the viewpoints, another comment period was offered to members. This (hopefully final) comment period ends May 31.
So is all of this much ado about nothing? I think it is. I believe the arguments set forth by many of the “anti-technology” contingent muddle the waters with inapplicable arguments and inaccurate insinuations. While the detractors of the draft statement sometimes make meaningful points to consider, they are obscured within exaggerations and out of context statements. Don’t get me wrong, I think a little refinement might be in order, but many of the statements completely off-target.
Point, Counterpoint: My perspective on the drama
I’ll address the points in the statement entitled “Do preschoolers need mandatory screen time?” on the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website:
If we don’t act now, the pressure on early childcare programs to incorporate screen time into their core curriculum will intensify. With preschoolers already spending an average of 32 hours per week with screens outside of classrooms, the last thing they need is mandatory screen time in school or daycare.
1) “Pressure” and “screen time”? Position papers do not pressure or direct association members to do anything. They state positions from a high level. No obligations are stated, implied, or intended in this draft or any other position paper NAEYC has ever issued.
2) If children are already spending time in front of screens at home (which is clearly a class issue) shouldn’t we issue guidance to parents instead of ECE programs? Shouldn’t parents turn off the TV and shut down the computers to spend quality time with their children? Isn’t it more likely that professionals will make constructive use of interactive technology than parents who don’t know a lot about child development? Do we not trust the programs who are members of NAEYC to use technology judiciously?
3) The data, including the statement “32 hours” of “screen time” used out of context. Numbers are bandied about recklessly. Is this data about children birth to 8? Is the data reflective of TV/Video use or interactive technology, or what? All screens are not made equal. It’s irresponsible to generalize data and use it when it does not apply. That is a tactic for extremists. Extremism is bad for early childhood education.
4) Remember, the concept of Developmentally Appropriate Practice was developed by NAEYC. Clearly NAEYC does not advocate sitting groups of children down for instruction on computers or for anything else.
Prescribes that screen technologies should be included in all early childhood settings, regardless of the age of the children served or type of program. Even play-based and outdoor preschools will be expected to incorporate screens.
Provides no objective criteria or guidance to educators about whether or when to incorporate screens into their classrooms.
Does not address the growing problem of screen-based commercialism in preschools.
4) The draft does not prescribe anything. It does not “mandate” “screen time”. It is clear that NAEYC does not and cannot “mandate” anything. It is a voluntary membership organization that offers high level position statements. How can you make the leap from a position paper from a membership organization to “…expected to…” do anything?
5) In general, position statements are not standards. They simply outline an organization’s position from a very high level. They:
- do not include in-depth summaries of research, but do include citations upon which the statement was built.
- do not include a lot of direct guidance. They outline the position of the organization, which sets the stage for books, articles, policies, and procedures that will offer more guidance.
- cannot encompass detailed discussions of every possible negative result, but should offer high level guidance about the possible consequences and problems, as this draft does. Commercialism in media are not a part of a statement intended to discuss the use of interactive technology in the classroom. The authors of this draft were careful to carve out a specific path to discuss interactive technologies in the classroom to set the position statement apart from discussions about violent and otherwise harmful media and commercialism.
I’m issuing my own call to action: Let’s all agree that we are doing our best to help early childhood educators learn more about how to use interactive technology with intention and responsibility. Let’s take extremism out of the equation, use information in context, and think strategically about how to make progress. While I also urge everyone to send comments, I also urge you to use reason and offer ideas within the context of a position statement. If you need to write a book that builds upon or contradicts NAEYC’s position statement, have at it.
Explore the real issues: How to evaluate interactive technology
ECE Tech: Beyond Debate-How To Evaluate Children’s Interactive Technology Tools and Media
Maybe I am just in a bad mood today. Have you ever noticed that you can’t shake hands with people who won’t give you their hands? You can reach out, but if the other person rebuffs your reach, your had is left helplessly and awkwardly flailing mid-air while you blush and stammer and the intended recipient tells you why your handshake is meaningless. OK. I’m being coy. Here’s what I really mean to say…
No matter what field you are in, and no matter how open-minded you are, you won’t be able to get some people to even listen to your ideas if they don’t want to consider another point of view. That’s the difference between ignorance and stupidity. Stupidity is innocent. If you don’t know something, you just don’t know. But ignorance means you are smart enough to understand it, but you choose to close your mind to the possibilities. Not shaking hands is ignorant.
“We just launched this website 16 months ago! What do you mean you have to do more development?” says the CFO/CEO/President/Business owner to the marketing geek. I hear it all the time. It’s a common misconception that investing a lot into a website means you will only have to add new content in the future. You may think once you develop the site you won’t ever have to think about the website again. Wrong. Read on!
It’s true that if the design of your pages is robust and flexible, and you have an awesome content management system, you will have to make fewer major revisions to your site. And, the more you money and time you invest in designing a flexible design up front, the fewer changes you will need to make over the lifespan of your site. However, the bottom line is that websites are a bit like homes…They need regular maintenance. After all, your lifestyle changes, appliances and fixtures break, and advances in household products come out every day. Your home has to accommodate those inevitable changes. Your website also needs to adjust to reflect the changes in your business, rapid technology changes, and minor hiccups along the way. For example, the introduction of social plugins from Facebook have sent businesses back to their website developers to adjust their websites to accommodate feeds and like buttons. Adjusting pages to accommodate those changes required rethinking many websites. Regardless of external technology changes, business goals and priorities often change, and your website has to reflect those changes.
The fact is the average lifespan of a website is only three to (and this is pushing it) five years. If your website is more than 3 years old, and you’ve done nothing to it over those three years, chances are you need to start thinking about a major overhaul.
7 key recommendations about website development and maintenance:
- Invest as much as you can into your website design on the front end so you can:
- Build in a great content management system.
- Automate as many related marketing processes as possible.
- Build in a very flexible design that allows you to adjust along the way.
- Pick developers who you like, trust, and can work with over the course of the lifespan of your site. (Your developers will be your new BFFs, so you better respect them.)
- You will need to budget for website maintenance, enhancements, and tweaks every year over the lifespan of your site.
- You will need to revise or overhaul your site in 3-5 years.
- Think through your goals, target audience(s), and aesthetics. Be prepared to tell your developers as much about your needs as possible.
- It takes a small village to build a boffo site:
- Print designers and web designers are not interchangeable.
- Developers are not the same as web designers.
- These folks may know a bit about SEO, but are not search engine optimization experts.
- None of these aforementioned peeps are marketing experts.
A good development firm will be able to bring these skills to the table, but if your budget is limited and you can’t work with a firm with all the expertise you need, make sure the people you hire consider these factors in your website. Be sure to assign one person from your company or organization the role of project manager of the site development and someone (perhaps the same person) as the content manager who regularly updates the site. If you have a small company, or you are a one person shop, that person might be you. Plan to either carve out a significant amount of time to oversee the development, and a bit of time every week or two to maintain the site, unless you plan to outsource those activities.
7. Don’t forget that you will have to keep the content fresh and up to date, so if you don’t have a big team, you may have to either pay someone, or find time in your schedule. Websites that are not maintained are a poor reflection on your company.
A great post supporting best practice in customer service and highlighting my piece on Facebook’s failure to provide customer service by Cynthia Goldbarg.
“Blown away.” That’s a pretty intense declaration. But, in fact, when it comes to my perceptions of the advocacy landscape for early childhood, I feel as though I have just put on high-def, 3-D glasses. I can see more clearly than ever. After my experience as a participant at the Partnership for Economic Success National Economic Forum on Early Childhood Investment, I feel as though for the past 25+ years in the field I have been been working with a unidimensional picture. Many of the misconceptions I had about business support for early learning initiatives have evaporated. I’m invigorated by what I’ve learned.
The Forum was replete with complex information, facts, and data presented by some of the most influential business leaders, politicians, and early learning experts in the country. The primary goal of the Forum is to offer the early learning sector the tools and information we need to develop coalitions “of business leaders advocating for increased investments in early childhood.” The sessions provided participants with the stories they need to tell, the data they need to show, and the tactics they need to use to build a movement and collation with the support of local and national businesses.
Of course, at the very foundation of the event was the fundamental message we all know and espouse: The first five years of life are the most crucial years for child development. What happens during these years impacts cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development like no other time in a child’s life. We know this. We live it. We tell the story day after day. But, the Forum shed new light (at least for me) on more compelling ways to tell the story so business leaders will join our movement and become our programmatic partners.
Because I spend most of my time thinking about engagement and communication, I see this as a communication issue. Have we been effectively spinning our stories? Are we bringing the right messages and the right people to the table with us? How can we impart our sense of urgency to legislators and to the public?
Three big takeaways from PAES:
1) There’s significant support in the business community for early learning. This was a huge surprise to me. Business leaders see early learning as a workforce issue. They know the work we do is paramount to developing good workers 15 to 20 years forward. They consider investments in early childhood “front-loading” costs because the investment results in higher returns down the line. Smart business leaders know that paying for high-quality early learning programs results in more well-rounded, prepared workers. They also embrace the research that high-quality programs result in lower rates of incarceration, which saves money “downline.”
There’s nothing to fear from approaching businesses for public and legislative support or programmatic partnerships. The business leaders who presented at PAES were aware of the urgency for support for early learning. Using the powerful detailed and comprehensive communication tools provided by the Partnership, advocates can and should start building support now. In their toolkit, the partnership has put together everything except the moxie you need to start talking with business leaders in your community. You supply the moxie.
2) Strengthen your advocacy position by keeping business leaders by your side. We all know our congressional leaders have heard our stories and our appeals for legislation before. We’re very good at crafting stories about the impact our programs have on the lives of families and children, and we know enough to bring parents and/or children with us to provide personal testimonials about the impact our programs have on their lives. But, congressional leaders must put the budget and the economy at the forefront of every appeal for legislation and funding. If we have any hope of breaking through to connect with legislators, we have to use the “3-D version” of the story and bring reinforcements with us. Armed with great tools like those provided by the Partnership, and a business representative from your community, you can offer a more crystallized and well-rounded story that speaks volumes.
3) We must put aside our differences to come together with a common voice and look for incremental “wins.” Differences? In the early care and learning community? Really? Yes. We’ve heard them all play out when it comes to funding at the local AND national level. We debate: Quality vs. Care for All, Pre-K vs. Child Care vs. Head Start (and on and on.) The patchwork of programs and state implementation has created a natural breeding ground for controversy. It’s natural that we all argue as we clamor for the hard-to-come-by dollars and legislation. It’s time to set those differences aside, and come together with a common voice to show the economic value and impact of high-quality early childhood programs.
There is a narrow window of time in the US right now. The national spotlight is starting to shine on our sector. We need to speak with one voice on a local, state, and national level and set our sights on smaller, more incremental expectations.
Things to do right now:
- Go to the PAES website.
- As per the directions of Rob Dugger, the PAES Advisory Board Chair, “scour the site,” and download the materials in the Communications Toolkit section.
- Integrate them into your advocacy and communications arsenal.
- Share them with your colleagues.
- Join the email list.
- Plan to attend the monthly Invest in Kids Working Group meetings.
- Read the PAES plan and decide where you and your organization fit.
- Read and commit to the Telluride Standards, which are the PAES roadmap for building a national movement for investing in children.
Leave a comment for me! Let me know what you think, especially if you attended the conference.
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