The Use of Developmentally Mobile Applications for Preparing Pre-Service Teachers to Promote STEM Activities in Preschool Classrooms

The Use of Developmentally Mobile Applications for Preparing Pre-Service Teachers to Promote STEM Activities in Preschool Classrooms

Michail Kalogiannakis (Faculty of Education, Department of Preschool Education, University of Crete, Greece) and Stamatios Papadakis (Faculty of Education, Department of Preschool Education, University of Crete, Greece)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1486-3.ch005
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Studies suggest that the exposure to STEM learning opportunities early in life is important because the development of STEM skills can further students' interest and educational attainment in STEM, expanding their career choices later in life. Smart mobile devices have become ubiquitous in schools and have been transforming educational practices at all ages and levels and almost all over the world. At the same time, there is evidence that teacher education departments lack the knowledge and skill to teach pre-service teachers about using these devices in their daily teaching practice. The findings of this chapter underline the need to develop teaching and learning processes that go beyond a mere transmission of the technical knowledge required to use mobile technologies with educational purposes, focusing instead on raising students' awareness about the educational benefits that the integration of mobile technologies can bring to formal education.
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It is widely recognized that technological innovation, over the past decade, has influenced all our lives and that as such, formal schooling should have changed to reflect that fact (Murphy,& Headley, 2018; Papadakis & Kalogiannakis, 2017; Yelland & Gilbert, 2018). Children can understand more science during the preschool and early school education than was believed in the previous years (Moomaw & Davis, 2010; Kalogiannakis, Ampartzaki, Papadakis, & Skaraki, 2018). Over the last decade, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) topics have become a focus of interest for researchers and educators. A reason is that STEM education is considered as a key enabler to further equip students with the skills they'll need for the future workplace (Psycharis, 2018; Saxton et al., 2014). STEM refers to evidence-based knowledge and practices in the fields of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (Gonzalez & Kuenzi, 2012) by engaging students in inquiry-driven learning practices to solve real-world problems in their daily lives through authentic learning experiences (Daugherty, 2013). STEM education includes student use of math and science concepts to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations among engineering and technology. Although four disciplines are included in the acronym S.T.E.M., science and mathematics are the most familiar to teachers of young children although math and science disciplines, instead of being taught in isolation, they are used to solve several problems arising in different spaces (Chamberlin & Pereira, 2017; Psycharis, 2018; Dorouka, Papadakis & Kalogiannakis, 2019; Margot & Kettler, 2019).

Tablets and smartphones permeate children’s lives (Zaranis, Kalogiannakis & Papadakis, 2013). Young age children use tablet type devices on a daily basis as the larger screen of a tablet allows for easier use (Eisen & Lillard, 2017). Furthermore, research results have shown that the touchscreen devices could serve as a tool for in-service and pre-service teachers to better meet the individual learner needs in today’s and future’s (preschool) classrooms. Thus, tablet-type devices have become ubiquitous in modern schools and have been transforming educational practices of all ages, of all educational levels, of all social classes around the globe (OECD, 2015).

Children can learn lessons and gain experience from interactive screen media, provided that media (a) considers content as means to improving teaching and learning, (b) are absorbed in a context that stimulates and scaffold children’s engagement, and (c) are tailored on the developmental needs of the individual child (Hurwitz, 2018). In recent years, the potential of interactive mobile technology to provide innovative solutions for the transformation of education has raised high expectations for researchers and educators. It is precise because of this flexibility and creativity of tablet type devices that can promote new and effective teaching practices (Lynch & Redpath, 2014; McTavish, 2014; Dunn, Gray, Moffett & Mitchell, 2018). For instance, smart mobile devices can act as an active source of data receivers (e.g. data loggers) from a set of quite different experimental situations (Zaranis et al., 2013). In addition, a smart mobile device can act as learning hubs promoting the integration of formal and informal learning contexts, enabling the creation and maintenance of a broad range of artefacts associated with multiple learning contents such as concept maps, photos, animations, etc. (Looi et al., 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Device: The mobile device is a small-sized, portable computer that typically has touch-screen features.

Preservice Teachers: Students enrolled in an initial educator preparation program.

STEM: The term STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is an acronym used by those relevant to the educational method concerning the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Early Childhood Education: Is a broad term used to describe any type of educational program that serves children in their preschool years, before they are old enough to enter kindergarten.

Smartphone: A smartphone is a term used to describe a category of mobile devices with computer-like functionality.

Preschool Education: Is education that focuses on educating children from the ages of infancy until six years old.

APP: An app is a software application that works, generally, on a mobile technology such as a smartphone, tablet, or other similar device.

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