As an educator I’m passionate about 2 things…Early Years and technology. Many people may scorn at the fact that these 2 things should never meet, but for me it’s where I witness engagement, new ideas coming to life and young
minds inventing things that we as adults could never imagine.
Earlier this year I was asked to present at the BETT Asia Leadership summit, with a focus on the Early Years Education Sector. Excitement took over as I delved into the myriad of ideas that I could share with people. To be honest I could talk for days…but 30mins was going to have to do!
This was my first ‘public’ speaking opportunity. Although I lead a large staff of approximately 100 daily and present regularly in front of them, this felt a little different. The pressure of an unknown audience is a little more daunting than the known. I focussed my attention on 3 key words:
1. Early Years
2. Technology and
3. Lifelong learning
The main points I wanted to get across to the audience were:
1. Always put pedagogy before technology
Your learning spaces (the built Pedagogy), the aims of the curriculum (the hidden Pedagogy) and the learning experiences (the visual Pedagogy) all must take the forefront of any curriculum. Authentic learning is the application of relevant knowledge, thinking skills, and interpersonal skills to the solution of real problems. It involves finding and focusing on a problem, identifying relevant information, categorising and critically analysing that information, and synthesising and effectively communicating the results of an investigation or creative endeavour (Renzulli, Gentry & Reis, 2004).
2. Always focus on the early years philosophy. Whether that be a Reggio Emilia Approach, Montessori or early years theories on learning such as Vygotsky and Piaget.
According to Vygotsky – learning on your own is not as powerful or extensive as learning alongside a ‘knowledgeable other’ person. According to his Zone of Proximal Development theory (ZPD), whether that person be a teacher, peer or parent, children learn more extensively within a social context.
Vygotsky – Technology is the ZPD mediating the social V Piaget – the technology is simply another tool that enables self discovery. The learner is still a solo explorer, discovering for themselves through trial and error, what is possible.
3. Start at the ‘bottom’ end of a school not just the top
It is quite common within a primary school to focus tech integration on the middle to upper end of primary. I struggle with this notion and often ask myself why? Is it simply because it’s ‘easy’. I challenge all tech integrators to take a look at how the flow of skills moves along, you’ll find it’s on an upward curve. By starting at the lower end of my schools, we have seen students tech skills flow up and begin to embed benefits with in the upper grades.
You can see my powerpoint presentation by clicking below:
I have to thank BETT Asia for the wonderful opportunity to talk on a topic I am very passionate about. I had the opportunity to meet familiar faces and gain some new colleagues to share the teaching journey with.
I now look forward to future speaking opportunities. Stay tuned as I visit the Young Learners conference in Sydney during March 2015.