Digital Technology in Kindergarten: Challenges and Opportunities

Digital Technology in Kindergarten: Challenges and Opportunities

Vicki Schriever
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2706-0.ch005
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This chapter examines the literature surrounding digital technologies within kindergarten. It highlights the ways in which mobile devices and smart gadgets are used by early childhood teachers and young children in diverse teacher-focused and child-centred approaches. The challenges faced by early childhood teachers to successfully use and integrate mobile devices and smart gadgets within their kindergarten will be explored. These challenges include, meeting curriculum requirements, mediating parental expectations, seeing the potential of digital technologies, having the confidence and self-efficacy to use digital devices and determining the value and place of digital technologies within a play-based environment. Each of these challenges are explored within the chapter and the ways these challenges can be overcome are detailed. The opportunities which mobile devices and smart gadgets present to maximise young children's learning, play and engagement and which facilitate and support the role of the early childhood teacher will also be examined.
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The literature surrounding the use of digital technologies within early childhood education showcases a conflicted and contested space, with both strong advocates and strong opponents of digital technology presenting their viewpoints. It is widely recognised that young children are born into, immersed within, and growing up in a digital world, where an extensive array of technologies are present and utilised in both the home and kindergarten classroom (Hollingworth, Mansaray, Allen & Rose, 2011; Lia, Toki & Pange, 2014; Marsh et al., 2005) however; the development and integration of digital technologies within society and education has not been unproblematic and as such opposing viewpoints prevail.

The introduction of digital technologies into early learning settings has resulted in extensive debate regarding the place of digital technologies within this environment, which reflects the problem of resistance towards a change in pedagogical practices (Lindahl & Folkesson, 2012a). Furthermore, as a result of digital technologies entering early learning settings, it has become a significant task for early childhood teachers to navigate technologically-mediated childhoods (Marsh et al., 2005). In many respects, the challenge and resistance experienced by some early childhood teachers towards digital technologies, is reflective of a wider, societal debate and public concern regarding digital technologies and young children, with everyone from child development experts, to teachers and parents, all having an opinion about the role of technology in the lives of young children (Plowman, McPake & Stephen, 2010; Sharkins, Newton, Albaiz & Ernest, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Child Centred: The ways in which digital technologies are used by children or as a collaborative practice between the early childhood teacher and the child or group of children.

Pedagogy: The teaching strategies and approaches used by early childhood teachers.

Young Children: Children aged from birth to five years of age.

Early Childhood Teacher: A teacher who educates and cares for young children.

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs): The collective term given to a broad range of digital technologies which enable access to and sharing of information and provide a means of communication. For example; smart phone, iPad, interactive whiteboard and computer.

Learning Outcomes: The identified aims and goals, as defined within the EYLF, which children aged from birth to five years old engage with and achieve.

Kindergarten: Children attend kindergarten aged from 3.5 to 4.5 years of age.

Early Learning Settings: A location where early childhood education occurs such as a long day care centre, family day care or kindergarten.

Early Childhood Education: The education and care of children aged from birth to eight years of age. Early childhood education occurs in prior-to-school settings, through the transition to school and in the initial years of primary schooling.

Teacher Focused: The ways in which digital technologies can be used solely by the early childhood teacher. The children are not involved in the use of the digital technology.

Digital Competence: Possessing the knowledge, skills and confidence to effectively utilise digital technologies.

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