“How near are we today to releasing the potential of new technologies to enhance teaching and learning in different settings and across different subjects?” (Triggs and Sutherland, 2009, p.3). This was written 5 years ago now, however in these past 5 years I feel we have come a long way in terms of the technology we have today. 5 Years ago it was unheard of for schools to have a set of iPads, enough for a whole class to use at once. We need to accept that ICT is now a major part of children’s everyday lives, and this is only going to continue to grow. Because of this, it is essential that teachers and practitioners have a strong knowledge base of ICT to be able to assist children in their knowledge of the subject.
In terms of the Curriculum, ICT is taken into account in both the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum, as well as the National Curriculum.
In the EYFS Curriculum: Development Matters (2012) , ICT comes under the ‘Understanding the world: Technology’ section. This is only a small section, with very limited points for each age range, however the Early Learning Goals for this section states that children should “recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purpose.” This gives EYFS teachers freedom to teach the technology they want to, ensuring that they give children the understanding they need to use the technology for the appropriate situations.
Early Years Foundation Stage: Development Matters (2012)
In the National Curriculum (2013), ICT is now classed as ‘computing’. In Key Stage 1, children are expected to learn about algorithms, create programs, use technology safely and more. This is very different to the old National Curriculum, however I feel it is changing for the good, as in the future when the children we are teaching today are looking for jobs, they are more than likely going to need to know some or most of these new skills. The Key Stage 1 teachers still seem to have a lot of freedom on how and what particular computing skills and technology they teach and use, which once again I think it is good as the teachers can judge this around their individual students.
National Curriculum (2013)
ICT in the classroom
So where does ICT fit in with the everyday school life? Firstly, and in my opinion most importantly, using technology to enhance an activity in a lesson can make the activity more enjoyable, therefore hopefully the children will gain more from this. Audin (2014) states that there should always be a reason to use technology, one of them reasons being that technology can make learning fun. As long as the children are engaging with the activity, and gaining enjoyment from it, then they should learn from it.
As well as making the activities enjoyable for children, it can also encourage talk within the classroom. O’Hara (2004) discusses how ICT provides a new context for teachers to be able to encourage children to ask questions, offer their own opinions and justify their answers. It also gives the children a range of options to try for themselves, while seeking ideas and opinions from their peers, eventually coming to agreements. All of these aspects of talk will help children to learn independently using technology, as they are given the chance to explore for themselves.
In addition to the reasons already discussed, technology has a major place in helping children with Special Educational Needs. As Beauchamp (2012) suggests, using technology to help children with learning difficulties is complex, but using the digital technologies can help to minimise the problems that pupils with these Special Educational Needs may experience. As I have already spoke about in my blog, there are a range of different products on the market now which can assist children should they need it.
E-Safety also has to be taken into consideration when letting the children use the internet. Although the internet can be a wonderful place full of useful information and activities for the children, there are unfortunately times when the internet is not safe. Audain (2014) describes E-safety as how children act on-line, staying safe on computers and other devices. However, the restricting nature of this is also discussed, in terms that safety is not just linked to the internet, but to other types of technology. The purpose of E-safety is to give children the space to develop their own on-line presence, while bringing out their own personality, just as they would in everyday life.
In terms of the information found out during the ICT sessions in University, I would say that Hectors World is the website which I find the most useful in terms of keeping children safe on the internet. This website has activities and top tips for the children, as well as resources for the teachers to use, plus training.
My Experience of ICT during University
Throughout the sessions of ICT from year 1 to year 3, I have learnt a great amount. Before coming to University, I believed I knew a lot about ICT and would find these sessions quite simple. However, I did not expect to gain as much insight into the vast amount of resources that are available, whether it is on the internet or on iPad apps. I have been fortunate enough to try out a range of these activities on placement, however I am excited to use more of these on my final placement as well as on my own class in the future.
ICT in my future classroom
When I qualify as a teacher and I have my own class, which will hopefully be a Reception class, ICT will have its place within my classroom. I would like to make sure that the children have constant access to some form of ICT within their free flow, whether this is the use of computers or a class camera. On top of this I want to make sure that I teach ICT specifically, showing the children how exactly we use certain types of technology, and more importantly why we would choose a certain type of technology to use in a certain system. I believe it is essential that children have the deeper knowledge and understanding of ICT to be able to use it successfully in everyday life. On top of the teaching of the technologies themselves, I will ensure I teach the children specifically about the safety aspects they need to consider when they use the technology. In addition to the free flow and ICT sessions, I will try and integrate ICT into other areas of the curriculum, but only when it is appropriate and I believe it will enhance the learning of the children. I want to make certain I do not just add in technology to my lesson plans for the sake of adding in technology, the ICT needs to serve a specific purpose. I feel that Hayes (2006) sums up my vision statement effectively, stating that “the children we teach today are the adults who will be determining our own futures ‘tomorrow’, and it is our responsibility to enable them to make informed choices and to be in control of the technology they will use” (p.1).
Audain, J. (2014) The Ultimate Guide to Using ICT Across the Curriculum. London: Bloomsbury Education.
Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School. From Pedagogy to Practice. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
Hayes, M (2006) Introduction: Teaching for tomorrow. In: Hayes, M. and Whitebread, D. (ed.) ICT In the Early Years. Berkshire: Open University Press, pp. 1-5.
O’Hara, M. (2004) ICT in the Early Years. London: Continuum.
Triggs, P. and Sutherland, r. (2009) A holistic approach to understanding teaching and learning with ICT. In: Sutherland, R. Robertson, S. and John, P. (ed.) Improving Classroom Learning with ICT. Oxon: Routledge, pp.3-26.