Learning Strategies By / Lee Li Li (Psychology lecturer of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman)
How Technology Based Learning Affects Child’s Development?
Often computer or other technology tools such as television, VCD/DVD, etc “experts” arise in classrooms and become teachers of the children.
The experts are not assigned to this role by the teacher but instead the children bestow this title on them.
Surprisingly, the computer expert often does not have a computer at home or he hardly gets the chance to watch TV at home. Experts are usually not the most proficient children at academics or social skills, but they do gain communication and social skills as they help other children in the classroom. It sounds impossible but it happened.
For example, in one kindergarten which using technology based learning program, the families were invited to send emails to their children. Since the children were not yet proficient readers, they had trouble reading the messages. Anyway, the children were really excited with this new learning experience. We can see that young children learn through exploration and discovery. If computers or other technology tools are used with children in kindergarten, preschool, or childcare settings, these technology tools should be one of many activity choices they can explore. During choice time, for example, a computer or multimedia resources center may be one of several options.
Computer Motivates Learning
That was when they discovered that Ong, a child with autistic behaviour, surprisingly could read.
Computers or other technology tools are motivating for young children, increasing their time in on-task behaviour. For some children who have unique learning styles, computers or other technology tools can reveal hidden strengths.
Children can approach learning from a variety of perspectives and follow various paths to a goal. Poor concentration and attention problems can be addressed by limiting screen time, helping children focus on the task, and choosing software that does not employ excessively stimulating noises or constantly moving graphics.
Children's activities and experiences with computers will evolve over time as they grow and develop. Very young children often use computers with help from an adult or older child. As they mature children use computers more independently, and the teacher's role moves from guidance toward monitoring and active facilitation.
A large number of research focuses on the use of technology to enhance social, language, and cognitive skills. Studies highlight the opportunities for language use and social interaction that technology offers, along with increased motivation. Technology also makes possible experiences and representations that cannot take place in the real world, providing new experiences and improved understanding.
The best academic results are found when the use of technology is clearly related to other classroom activities and curriculum.
For example, when children are using a software program that manipulates items, the teacher places the concrete items on the table next to the computer or incorporates the items into classroom activities. Using a computer with supporting manipulation increases children’s skills more than using only the manipulation or the computer alone.
Other Effective Uses Of Technology
In addition to computers, many other types of technology can be used effectively with children. The setting, the purpose, and the developmental stages of the children will help decide the best choices for a particular situation. The technology available and commonly used in the community may also influence the choice.
Tape recorders support early literacy experiences. They allow children to listen to recorded stories or songs, or to follow along in a book as they hear it being read on tape. Children can record family stories, their own made-up stories, poems, and songs, or themselves reading aloud.
When adults write down children's stories — from children's dictated words or from the tape recorder — children see how the spoken word can turn into the written word. These activities integrate all aspects of literacy: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. They help children develop their storytelling ability and an understanding of how sound translates to print.
Cameras — film, video, or digital — record children's activities while they are at work, as well as performances and special events. Children can tell a story in pictures and write or dictate captions. Photos share the learning with other children, parents, and community members. Photos can also introduce teachers and staff members to new students and families during home visits.
VCRs play back videos of class activities and recordings of students. Children and families have a chance to see the results of their projects and learn from watching the performances. Videos may be loaned to family members who were not able to attend in person.
Television/VCD/DVD opens the eyes of children to the world that they have never explored to. They are able to engage themselves in many types of virtual experiences which will allow them to broaden their skills and imagination.
Software Encourages Child's Exploration
To allow children to reap the greatest benefits from using technology, the software must be developmentally appropriate, that is, consistent with the way children learn and develop, and support or extend the curriculum (National Association for the Education of Young Children, NAEYC, Washington,1996).
Select software that:
• is open ended and allows for active learning with students making decisions. • involves many senses and contains sound, music, or voice. • is controlled by the children, and allows them to explore without fear of making mistakes. • responds to children's exploration in ways that encourage further investigation. • reflects and builds on what children already know. • applies to real problems with real-life connections. • elicits excitement and so encourages language.
Drawing programs and music-making programs are examples of software that may have these characteristics. Children can create pictures and music that reflect a variety of abilities and interests, limited only by their imaginations.
Drill-and-practice or computer-assisted instruction (CAI) software, similar to electronic worksheets or flashcards, is frequently used to strengthen academic performance. This type of program should be used for limited amounts of time, not as the major focus of computer use. Anyway, the child as active participant in the learning process is an important element of long-term learning gains.
Software programs often provide extensive scaffolding of learning. Scaffolding is very important in developing cognitive skills. The computer or other technology tools provide unique opportunities that may enhance learning.
For example, computers can allow children to access the “largest information bank—with the broadest range of quality and utility—the world has ever known”. With the computer, children can participate in simulations and manipulate variables that might not be possible in the real world.
Appropriate utilization of technology will do no harm to childhood
A lot of us expressed concern that computers might reduce socialization. If we properly plan our technology based pedagogy, computers may increase the amount of communication and positive interaction between children.
In fact, the frequency of children participating in interactions with others during computer play can be similar to puzzle play. Although children seem to naturally assist each other when using the computer, one classroom developed rules to assure interaction. These included finding a friend (children were only allowed to play at the computer with a friend), helping a friend (pointing, discussing, providing information, and sharing the mouse), and taking turns (a timer helped to determine when it was the friend’s turn).
At home, parents are encouraged to be with their children when they are with computers or other technology tools to ensure interaction and safe content.
Technology is a tool that can provide another way for children to learn and make sense of their world. Computers can be used in developmentally appropriate ways that are beneficial to children, or they can be misused, just as blocks or any other materials can be misused.
And just as pencils do not replace crayons but rather provide additional means of expression, computers, or cameras or any other forms of technology, do not replace other tools but add to the array of tools available to children to explore, create, and communicate.
When used appropriately by skilled teachers, technology can support and extend learning in valuable ways and can increase educational opportunities for children.
The key is finding the balance, knowing how to align the elements of a healthy childhood with the unique capabilities offered by technology.
The use of technology in the curriculum is based on the needs of the children, the focus of the curriculum, and whether the technology will add to children's educational opportunities and experiences.
Concerns that technology speeds up the pace of learning and cuts down on childhood can be lessened if “unprogrammed” playtime is included as an essential part of the child's daily routine, including any technology use. Play is important for intellectual development and, as such, should be included as a vital part of early childhood education. Used appropriately, computers or other technology tools with good software can be a positive element of children's play and learning as they explore and experiment.
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