140+: In the Moment


#ECEtechCHAT Weekly Topic for 1/25/2012: Mobile Devices in Early Childhood Settings

mobile devicesMobile Devices! Smartphones and tablets in ECE? Who, what, when, where and how?

1) Is your program using or can you envision using mobile devices in your program?

2) Have you found great apps or special devices?  Share them with us!

3) What are the challenges and opportunities of using mobile devices with young children and their teachers?

4) How to you manage access to mobile devices?

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Transcripts from last week’s chat

#ECEtechCHAT on 1/18/2012: Resistance to Technology Integration

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#ECEtechCHAT Weekly Topic 1.18.2012- Overcoming Resistance

Resistance

The (temporary) home of the official Early Childhood Education Technology Chat on Twitter

Wednesdays at 9 PM EASTERN TIME!

Hey there #ECEtechCHAT tweeks. This week’s topic is overcoming resistance to integrating technology tools in early childhood settings.

The questions for this chat are:

A.      Have you experienced resistance from staff, administrators, or parents to technology integration in your program? If so, what obstacles did resistors present?

B.      Is there any way to avoid some resistance to change?

C.      How did you overcome resistance?

If you have links to share, come ready to tweet them at 9 pm, EST on 1.18.2012!

If you have never attended a Twitter chat, here’s a little information about how to participate in a cha

Want to see what a Twitter Chat is like? Check out the transcript from last week‘s chat.

My Picks for The 2011 Edublog Awards #Eddies11

Edublog AwardsIf you know me, you know I love technology. I thrive on social media. And, most of all, I am passionate about the intersection of early childhood education and social media. Technology makes it easy for me to learn more about the field and connect with people I might never have otherwise known and learn from ECE leaders with a simple click or two.. I can also broadcast what I learn to thousands of others in our field with just a little bit of initiative and know how. And, there is so much to share! That’s why I’ve  nominated a few of the best resources for Edublog Awards this year.  Hopefully, you will do the same. Unfortunately, there are only a few more days in the competition, but it’s never too late! Voting ends December 2, 2011! HURRY!

Since 2005, Edublogs has been hosting blogs and providing custom blogging platforms to teachers, school districts and  students, and the folks that operate the platform have a yearly competition to recognize the best resources as nominated by users. The awards are presented the resources that receive the most votes. Early education is underrepresented, mostly because our field has taken a bit more time to embrace social media and the Internet as sources for professional development. I think we’ve arrived now, so it’s time for us to collectively nominate and vote for the resources we think are most valuable. We’re going to have to do a lot of voting, because we, collectively, are a fraction of the overall field of education.

I nominated many outstanding early childhood educators on the Early Childhood Investigations Blog, but because it’s so important to cast nominations often and because I left out some important people, I’m casting again, here on my personal blog.

Fran Simon’s Edublog Award choices:

* Best Individual Blog: Dr. Michele Borba’s Reality Check

* Best twitter hashtag : #earlyed

* Best individual Tweeter: Karen Nemeth @KarenNemethEDM

* Best group blog: Early Ed Watch by New America Foundation:
http://earlyed.newamerica.net/blogmain

* Best educational use of a social network: Early Childhood Education, Child Care, and CCR&R Professionals Forum, Hosted by Adrienne C. Barr

* Best teacher blog: The Grass Stain Guru, by Bethe Almeras

* Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast: Bam! Radio Network

* Lifetime achievement: Ellen Galinsky- Ellen blogs everywhere and has been for a long time. Check her out:
On Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-galinsky

On Mind in The Making: http://mindinthemaking.org/

On MomsRising: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/author/Ellen-Galinsky/

On HBR Blog Network: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/05/learning_to_taking_on_challeng.html

On Families and Work Institute http://familiesandwork.org/blog/

And, so many other blogs… to many to mention! You go, Ellen!

Make your choices! It’s easy to nominate… Just follow the directions on the Edublog Awards page!

Is the NAEYC Draft Technology Statement really controversial?

Get your point across no matter whatIt’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.

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Explore the real issues: How to evaluate interactive technology

Free webinar

Early Childhood Investigations Webinar SeriesWarren BickleitnerJoin Warren Buckleitner in a webinar that moves beyond this debate on June 1, 2011 at 2 PM EDT.   One of the many webinars in the Early Childhood Investigations Webinar Series.


ECE Tech: Beyond Debate-How To Evaluate Children’s Interactive Technology Tools and Media
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Are early childhood educators biased against learning divergent approaches, ideas and techniques? I think so…

Figiting words- puppies on either side of a fenceMy headline is pretty bold, isn’t it? I’d say it’s full of “fighting words.”

I’m frustrated.

I think many of my colleagues are narrow-minded. (But not you of course!)  I only want them to open their minds to the possibility that the 21st century definition of developmentally appropriate practice is vastly different from the definition that we used in the 20th century.

It’s pretty simple: I just want my colleagues to listen to other ideas and really just consider something outside of their safe, comfortable boxes. I wish they would step out on the ledge to learn something new so they can either incorporate it into their practice, dismiss it, or protect against it.  After all, if they don’t know anything about it, how can they possibly determine that it is wrong?

And, I don’t just mean technology. I mean other methods of (heaven forbid) “instruction”.

Personally I think developmentally appropriate classrooms can be balanced with more than just play. Let me state for the record: I believe that play and child-initiated experiences should be the foundation of every early childhood classroom. I am an avid constructivist…who believes in balance and innovation. I know centuries old techniques can’t get children where they need to be in today’s world. Resistance can’t help. It can only hurt.
I believe that play and child-initiated experiences should be the foundation of every early childhood classroom. I am an avid constructivist...who believes in balance and innovation. I know centuries old techniques can't get children where they need to be in today's world
We’re failing.

Despite our chest-pounding and pontificating, by the time children get to college, they’ve fallen woefully behind children in other industrialized countries. Could it be that we’re doing something wrong in the early years? We all know the question and the answers are very complex due to policies and funding., (or lack thereof) cultural influences, and a myriad of other problems that plague education in the US. But, is it possible that early childhood educator’s defiance stands in the way of progress? Is it smart to pause and look at what we’re doing and what we’re not doing, and ask hard questions? I think so.

There’s a new discussion in the Early Childhood and CCR&R group on LinkedIn that’s been sparked by an interview with me, Warren Buckleitner and Cris Rowan on Bam! Radio Network about using technology in ECE programs. I’ll let you take a look at the discussion and listen to the podcast and make your own decisions about what you think, but I will tell you that Warren accurately pointed out that Cris bastardizes and misrepresents research findings. In my personal opinion, taking research and making broad baseless statements to scare parents and educators into buying books is never a good practice. I believe Cris plays on the fear of the unknown that plagues our field. I’d call that headline grabbing extremism.

But, I digress…. The age-old debate about using technology or not using technology is not really the point. It’s about blind resistance, and the perpetuation of a decades old mantra that early childhood educators have adopted. It’s about comfort zones that hamper innovation and progress. Could that be bad for children? I think so.

So what do you think?  I hope you share a passion for a 21st century vision of developmentally appropriate practice that weaves in new approaches and tools. I hope you don’t have a vision of technology use in ECE that falsely assumes children will do nothing but sitting passively at computers in classrooms that are devoid of paint, blocks, inspiring teachers, and all the other traditional accouterments of great classrooms. I hope you believe in balance and open-minded inquiry about what works in ECE, and understand that technology/innovation and play/child-initiated experiences are not mutually exclusive. It’s just not black and white….there are many shades of gray, and they are all lovely.

Post your thoughts here on my blog. Back me up if you share my vision, or blast me if you don’t.