Integrating Technology in Preschool Science and Inquiry

Integrating Technology in Preschool Science and Inquiry

Ornit Spektor-Levy (Bar Ilan University, Israel), Inna Plutov (Bar Ilan University, Israel), Naama Israeli (Bar Ilan University, Israel) and Netta Perry (Bar Ilan University, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3417-4.ch076
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Abstract

Technology has brought about considerable changes in our private, social and professional lives, as well as in our culture and values. Therefore, educational frameworks should make an effort to become more relevant for young students and prepare them for the future in all aspects of career and life, with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This chapter will discuss the opportunities and challenges of integrating technology into preschool classrooms (3-6 years of age). It attempts to determine the essence of judicious, proportionate, and beneficial integration of technology in preschool, with a particular focus on science and inquiry. Consideration is given to maintaining the children's creativity, their joy of play, their concrete and sensory exploration, their unmediated observation of their environment, their social interactions, and their safety. Examples of actual practices from preschool classrooms are presented followed by recommendations for successful technology integration in preschool curriculum.
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Introduction

In July of 1859, a British philosopher named Herbert Spencer published an essay titled “What Knowledge is of Most Worth?” Spencer wished to define the biggest thing that ought to be taught in the educational system at that time. This same question is still asked today (NEA, 2010; Luna Scott, 2015): What should be studied in educational frameworks to prepare our children for life in a global digital economy?

Technology has brought about considerable changes in our private, social and professional lives, as well as in our culture and values. The technologies that exist today are just the tip of the iceberg; some are only in their initial phase of development, and others will be replaced by newer and more sophisticated technologies. Consequently, certain knowledge, skills, and competencies have become redundant, while other knowledge, skills, and competencies have become essential (Zhao, 2012). The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, 2013) addressed the need for new Science and Technology standards, noting the competitive global economy, the need to prepare for the demands of new careers in the modern workforce, and the need for an educated society, literate in science and technology (NAE & NRC, 2014). Educational frameworks, therefore, should not only make an effort to become more relevant for young students, but should also prepare them for the future in all aspects of career and life, with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) (Scott, 2012; Zhang, et al. 2010).

This chapter will discuss the opportunities and challenges of integrating technology into preschool classrooms (3- to 6- years of age) in general, with a particular focus on science education and inquiry. The term technology has a broad meaning. In this chapter, technology refers to digital technology (Instance & Kools, 2013); i.e., all kinds of modern computers, information and communication technology (ICT), and digital media.

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