The use of technology in classrooms is not new, but evolving hardware and broadband accessibility are changing how educators think about those tools in their classrooms.
At a forum on using technology in early childhood education, hosted Tuesday by the Rand Corporation, the message was clear: Researchers should continue to explore the use of technology in early childhood education, but the focus should be on how to best use it, not whether to use it.
Chip Donohue, director of the Erikson Institute Technology in Early Childhood Center, said technology use should develop digital literacy in young students as well as help advance skills like math and reading.
“It shouldn’t be either learn how to use the technology or use it as a tool for learning, it’s use it as a tool for learning and in the process of doing that learn how it works,” Donohue said.
Presenters said it’s still unclear how best to accomplish those goals and more research is needed in that area. But EdSurge writer Katrina Stevens said new research in the field should focus on realistic solutions that can be implemented by parents and teachers outside of academia.
“I feel like we need to look at the real parameters of what our parents’ lives are, our children’s lives are, our providers’ lives are, and actually do research that’s based on actual practicalities,” she said.
Presenters at the forum also emphasized the need to use technology in a way that would reduce the digital skill gap in low-income students, rather than grow it.