First Guest Blogger: Educational Technology
A while back I considered having guest bloggers on this blog. It’s another avenue for bringing resources to your fingertips! It’s important to me that our guest bloggers are professionals in the field and have a similar educational focus. I’m honored to introduce our first guest blogger…please welcome Dr. Lilla Dale McManis.
Just What Is Educational Technology?
I am so honored to be a guest blogger this month for ECYD. As the Research Director for Hatch Early Learning and a founding member of the Early Childhood Technology Collaborative, I wanted to share what educational technology is, and why anyone involved in educating children should have a basic working knowledge.
First, educational technology itself is a recognized field. It’s very wide which makes it complex but also exciting. The field brings together knowledge from several disciplines including communication, education, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and computer science. When focused on children, added to the mix is child development. There are a number of definitions of educational technology but they have in common the purpose to support and enhance teaching and learning.
Involvement with educational technology can occur in many ways, including developing, using, evaluating, guiding best practices, setting policy, and advocacy. When educational technology intersects with children, particular care must be taken to ensure their health and safety and developmentally appropriate practice because children do not have the maturity to make the best decisions for themselves. The opportunities for children to use technology are greater than ever before. For the first time, children do not play with a toy version of the technology their parents and teachers use, they interact with the same technology. These opportunities include access to a very wide variety of types of technology from computers to smartphones to tablets at home and school as well as interactive whiteboards and multi-touch tables at school and museums and other educationally-oriented settings. The amount and variety of content for the technology is also much greater than just a few years ago, particularly in the form of Apps on mobile devices.
Many people have concerns about children and technology. There are several important considerations:
- Is the technology ‘educational technology’? To answer this question means determining if technology is being used by educators and parents for the purpose of supporting and enhancing teaching and learning. Technology does not always have to be educational. It can be for entertainment but the differences should be clear.
- How do we know this purpose has been met? Educators and parents need to assess that the use of educational technology with children has led to them learning something of value.
- How do we know what is enough educational technology to meet learning goals but not so much that children have over-exposure? Many people speak of screen-time but not all screens are created equal so to speak. Educators and parents should strive toward the reduction of passive screen-time (such as TV) and toward more interactive experiences, both with the computer programs/apps and with other children and adults while using technology for learning.
This vibrant exciting field is growing and evolving. There is a lot of responsibility connected to developing for and using educational technology with children-but it is also a lot of fun! To learn more about this topic, I invite you to read McManis, L.D., & Gunnewig, S. (2012). Finding the Education in Educational Technology with Early Learners. Young Children, 67(3), 14-25. (http://www.naeyc.org/yc/article/finding-education-in-educational-technology) and to visit our blog(http://blog.hatchearlychildhood.com/).
Bio: Lilla Dale McManis, PhD, is the Research Director for Hatch Early Learning, a leading technology development company in early childhood, and a founding member of the Early Childhood Technology Collaborative, a group of research-oriented technologists. Dr. McManis holds degrees in child development, special education, and educational psychology with a concentration in learning and cognition. Over the past 25 plus years, she has served as a public school teacher, teacher educator, evaluator, university faculty member, and researcher. She joined Hatch in 2008 following a position at the University of Texas-Houston in the Children’s Learning Institute and the State Center for Early Childhood Development. Dr. McManis focuses on the design, evaluation, and research of educational technology for early learners.