Sponsored Video: Playing And Learning Through Technology

This may be a sponsored post, but the content is relevant and worth not being dismissed.

Last week I wrote about the role of technology in our children's lives, and the responses that I had to this was fascinating. Most people who commented agreed that our children, those little beings that are barely out of nappies and only just making themselves truly comprehensible, are far more familiar with technology than we were, or even their older siblings were. A few commenters were concerned about children having a balance of play experiences, but that wasn't the point I was trying to make. I wanted to highlight that actually I feel not allowing children to explore and use technology as a tool will hinder them in their future schooling and careers. However, I'm biased because I'm an ICT co-ordinator who is passionate about the use of technology and allowing children to become more independent in their learning.

Education nowadays is completely different to anything most adults (without a child in the school system) can imagine. Schools nowadays, especially in Wales, are all about child-led learning and a teacher's job is to facilitate the child's ability to find out what they want to, and guide them into enquiring about their world if they're not sure how. Gone are the days of 'chalk and talk', but eleven years ago when I started teaching that was standard practise and it makes me shudder to think of children filling pages in their books because 'that's how they learn'. It's not; most children learn experientally.

In last week's RE lesson we used the school's newly purchased tablets. I placed a QR code on each table, with a tablet next to it. The children came in from assembly and were asked to sit at the tables straight away, click on an app and scan the code. It took them straight to a video about an influential Christian which they watched completely engrossed in the message. I drew the children together and we discussed the key points which I listed on the tablet connected to the interactive whiteboard. The children were then split into groups and set the task of researching another influential figure. Twenty minutes later they presented their findings to each other.

Having taught the same lesson two years ago, I can honestly say that those children learnt far more in last week's lesson because they were able to steer their own learning and answer their own questions.

Technology is a valueable tool for learning. Schools across the developed world are realising the importance of it to build the next generation of inquiring minds and independent learners.

This post has been sponsored by Samsung, but all thoughts are my own.

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  1. says

    I work with technology and spent 12 years writing about technology as a journalist, but I prefer to spend the early years focusing on other skills, for a couple of reasons.

    First, technology moves so fast that teaching a 4 year old to use a computing device in 2012 will bear no relevance to anything they'll use in 10 years time – the chances that we'll be using the same interface or OS or input device has to be remote, surely?

    Second, research suggests that children who use computers and tablets for learning in early years struggle when faced with platforms that don't provide constant feedback – like books. Concentration span is shorter, for example. So some people argue we should let children learn to research and study independently, or from their peers, and using books, before introducing technology.

    It's all about what you feel's right for your situation, though – for us, we're very low-tech and Flea was TV and screen free until she was well into her school years, but that was what worked for us!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I'm actually surprised that you're so low-tech; I mean you're you!

      However, back to the main points you've made.

      I completely agree that the early years should be focused on developing an all-round child. This is a point that I made to someone else in the other post that I mention. I've mentioned how I feel technology is important and don't discuss anything else. However the vast majority of my posts are about the craft, outdoor play, learning through play and cooking activities that I do with The Boy. We do have a lot of technology in the house, but it's not seen as anything other than another thing to play with and sometimes he doesn't pick up a tablet pc for days on end.

      Technology does move incredibly fast, I agree. I'd never have thought five years ago that I'd be taking photos on my phone, editing them, uploading them to Instagram, sharing them on Facebook and twitter and then uploading them onto my blog. All that on something in my pocket? And yes the interfaces that are around today aren't going to be around in ten years time, but if the curiosity to learn about technology has been nurtured then I believe children will adapt. And for the same reason, I don't teach children how to use Word in school, I teach them how to use a variety of word processing packages.

      I can understand that research, and yes I'd probably agree with it. It's really important that children are taught how to research because in my eleven years as a teacher, it's not something they innately know. This lesson used solely tablets, but plenty of other lessons involve providing the children with a range of non-fiction books alongside technology, and most children do use both. However, in my school we have a socio-economic catchment area from people living in four storey Victorian detached houses to people in two-bedroomed council flats. A range of devices (not just technological) have to be implemented to 'hook' them into learning.

      Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it.

  2. says

    I'm very biased towards the age of technology even a simple Television why, because my son never said a word until he was 3yrs old not even a babble, we bought a TV with freeview on it and he spoke, a simple word 'Hello' said by a popular children's programme, he loves to read proper books but with his disabilities sometimes they aren't just visual enough for him, so the computer combats that and makes it more fun for him.

    We also have found that they assist on long journeys, he really struggles when in a car and others are sat near him, the iPod has helped him immensely as he has control on what he reads, plays and even listens to.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      This is one of the important points about technology, it can reach a child who is otherwise 'locked away' and having difficulty communicating. We've got an autistic child in the nursery who doesn't communicate and this has helped him to settle in and start to reach out to the teachers.

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