Technology continues to change many aspects of our lives and in school it is no different Each new cohort of four year olds enters Foundation Stage more familiar with technology than their slightly older peers. Picking up a tablet, a handheld device or sitting at a computer holds no fear for them. They don’t look for the instructions before testing its capabilities, their approach to learning with technology is not a linear model more of an exploration fired by an inquisitive mind. Using technology with young children presents educators with a great opportunity to develop basic skills. A natural curiosity for learning can be further enhanced with an iPad or similar device. Our reception children tend to use iPads as a social tool – they huddle in small groups to share, discuss and debate whichever app they might be using. Such dialogue would seldom develop unassisted without technology to provide the stimulus.
@glynnlee and I have often discussed the power of blogging with primary children and, as Lee stated, if you replace the word ‘blogging’ with the word ‘writing’ it can give you some indication of the difference the use of technology can have on learning. In the early years class blogs are mainly used to provide a window on the children’s learning for parents and families, but the junior classes tend to give more ownership to the children who use it as a vehicle for their writing. Children enjoy blogging, it looks good, its appearance can be changed, it can be shared, has a potentially wide readership and is easily edited. Regular contributions to a class blog also gives children their own digital portfolio. Using technology to support writing in such a way is a positive application of the tools many children are increasingly familiar with out of school from an early age.
Making use of green screen technology is also a great way to develop basic skills. Children respond readily to scripting, filming and re drafting and are often blissfully unaware that these steps are supporting them in their writing, speaking and listening. The chance to write auto cues for their friends to speak often raises the bar in terms of their expectations and listening carefully before re drafting is also a key skill that needs to be successfully employed to improve results. Using the green screen gives children a strong stimulus for a whole range of basic skills. If you suddenly have the chance to film your historical report about the beheading of Anne Boleyn from in front of the tower, it might just inspire you to greater achievements, to think more carefully about what you are writing. If you are creating a micro tutorial on how to convert fractions into percentages, you will need to ensure you fully understand the process before sharing your learning with others. You could argue that such approaches would work without technology but the opportunity for children to watch themselves, to share their learning, to get feedback from beyond the class makes the use of technology an attractive way of developing and enhancing their learning. Embracing technology in the primary classroom can provide practitioners with exciting ways of developing basic skills, many children already enter school familiar with a range of devices, we need to ensure we build on their early interest and curiosity to the benefit of their future learning.