Technology is ever more prominent in the lives of each individual today both young and old. This has lead to the importance of enabling environments where ICT and other technology based learning occurs can work alongside traditional teaching methods. ICT has been seen as an ideal tool for making the links between the different subjects and because of its very nature it can run concurrently with other forms of learning. In the 21st century most children arrive at school with some experience of using ICT therefore the need to teach as a specific subject has reduced as most children seem able to learn both the ICT skills and the subject simultaneously. In view of this fact the Draft ICT Programme of Study does not require a dedicated emphasis on learning ICT as a standalone subject.
The Programme of Study aims to show children that the use of digital technology and computer science is not only a means of accessing vast amounts of knowledge in an educational setting but that so much of the ‘adult world’ is based and relies upon computer technology. Therefore it is important to equip children with skills as early as possible which will allow them to play a vital role in society as they grow. However, because the Draft Programme of Study is non statutory, there is a fear that teachers who are insecure and ‘illiterate’ themselves in their ICT skills may neglect and reduce learning opportunities. Many feel that this point will result in some children not experiencing ICT ‘lessons’ for two years until the New National Curriculum is implemented in 2014. The concern that children who have access to technology at home could progress more than those who don’t, thus resulting in a disparity in the skill level of children.
ICT is a constantly developing and evolving medium that impacts in all areas of everyday life, so it is important that children understand its language and how to use it to gain the maximum from its use. Understanding how computer systems work (Computer science) and therefore how to apply them (Information Technology) results in the ability to access and use it (Digital Literacy). All these things empower the child to take responsibility and direction of their own learning but also it encourages exploration and investigation in a creative way.
ICT often bridges the development gap especially in areas such as writing, spelling and maths where the automatic correctional facility enables a child to be involved in learning in a truly interactive way. In the Early Years the use of technology is cross curricular and multipurpose. It can be both an aid and a tool for learning which can be used discreetly or directionally. The use of a camera for example not only teaches children how to use the camera but also leads on to discussion of the image photographed.
iPads can have a vast range of different apps, both educational and social so this single tool can be provide access and resources for many areas of learning in contrast to books which are usually subject specific. This one tool alone can develop and improve hand eye co-ordination, cognitive development through matching. By introduction to ICT at a very young age the learning becomes subconscious. iPads are instant and simple to use, appealing to a wide variety of learners and can be used anywhere. Schemes and grants now exist to reduce the financial impact when purchasing initially, therefore many schools are favoring this versatile learning and teaching tool which can constantly be updated. Although it appears to personalise learning some feel mobile technologies can be an anti social tool reducing interactive communication (Speaking) giving children an unreal perspective on real life situations, this term is known as Toxic childhood. Siraj-Blatchford, however, disagrees with this and feels that they in fact encourage interaction as even games can be played through the internet with remote partners. Rosie Flewit, discusses how in fact the use of iPads in early education at the moment is the exception rather than the norm, so these fears about toxicity may not be representative.
Mobile technologies such as iPads, cameras, microphones etc present to teachers yet another medium to assist and create learning. With such a variety of technologies every areas of teaching seems to have an appropriate application to ensure every child can get the maximum from the learning experience.
Every teacher has the responsibility to make sure every child becomes a digital citizen, by raising awareness of the need of thinking before typing, the implications of the work as well as cyber safety. Hectors World not only focuses on eSafety with the dolphin button, but is now starting to present to teachers the importance of digital citizenship and has a whole host of ideas on how to implement and raise awareness of this matter. Children need to know that internet sites whilst providing opportunities and information for learning can also have ‘malware’ and can be subject to undesirable content and use. The need for eSafety and limiting exposure to acceptable and appropriate apps and websites has been highlighted by the occurrence of child crime inspired and motivated by games and access to inappropriate websites. Thus, children need to be taught how to police their own ICT use.
It is evident that ICT is becoming a global tool not only for learning but education in general. Therefore whilst embracing that new technology will shape the children who will become the citizens of tomorrow, as with all learning it needs to be approached with a responsible attitude. It should also be seen as yet another medium which should be used alongside the already exciting catalogue of teaching tools.
To summarise I have created this mind map reflecting my learning over the past few ICT sessions
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