Author(s): Hall E, Higgins S
Abstract: The use of computers in early years has become a contentious issue, with advocates calling for more Information and Communications Technology (ICT), more machines, better software, and more training for professionals, while other groups call for “a moratorium on the further introduction of computers in early childhood and elementary education” (Cordes & Miller, 2000). The authors of this article would like to declare their allegiances here: they are in favour of computers in the same way that they are in favour of books, pencils, worksheets, Lego, jigsaws, junk modelling, role play, and circle time. Activities and equipment in early years are, in themselves, neither positive or negative: it is the way in which they are used which is meaningful. Any of the things on their list can (and have) been criticised as retarding or limiting children’s development. The authors believe that children need opportunities to interact with the world at developmentally appropriate levels, to “own” the interactions, forming personal, relevant “mental furniture,” organising their learning in partnership with peers and sensitive, scaffolding adults. Such activities are appropriate in that they actively engage learners and developmental in the sense that they help to support the development of children’s learning. ICT has a place in this, and the burning questions are not whether computers should be used but where and how ICT can be used to enlarge and enrich young children’s experience of learning.
Notes: This paper draws on the large ICT literature reviews conducted by the Centre for Learning and Teaching to address a particular policy concern in the early years. As such, it relates directly to issues of developmentally appropriate practice, the meaningful incorporation of technology into pedagogy, the nature of young children's interactions with technology and the professional development needs of teachers and other key professionals in the early years.
Keywords: ICT, computers, early years, developmentally appropriate practice