LeapFrog. Cool Math. Fisher Price. All of the above mentioned are programs and toys that have been created to enhance the learning of children, especially ages three to ten years. LeapFrog offers educational games that encourage reading and writing skills. Cool Math integrates math with multiplication and division games. Fisher Price incorporates fun with educational toys that talk, beep and sing. Technology usage in early childhood education provides young children the skills needed for success in the twenty-first century; however, their cognitive skills dwindle because of the lack of fundamentals.
Technology is “like the air” in the twenty-first century; children are exposed daily in their homes. (Parette, Quesenberry, and Blum 336). It is omnipresent in today’s society; devices such as Ipods, Tablets, Kindles, and Macs are carried in purses, backpacks, and pockets. Parette, Quesenberry, and Blum state that “… children frequently use technologies in their play experiences with commercially acquired toys and related learning materials” (336). Children’s play experiences within the home are with toys and programs made by companies such as LeapFrog and Fisher Price.
Fisher Price toys keep children’s attention with the use of bright, flashy colors and sounds. LeapFrog strengthens reading skills among children with interactive stories. Instead of parents purchasing classics such as “Charlotte’s Web” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” children can purchase the low-cost electronic book version on their Kindles. The pages of the book come alive with the characters as the narrators. Talking devices do grab our children’s attention but are they beneficial towards their learning? A child’s interest in learning should not be dependent upon devices.
Devices affect our children’s mentalities. According to “Is Google Making Us Stupid? ” media theorist Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s states that “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski” (733). Our children are little jet skiers on their devices. The zipping through information on the Web is like the gliding of a ski across water. There is no comprehension present when reading online. Skimming through online text does not allow the brain to retain the information. Technology is everywhere and is easily accessible to our children.
Devices such as tablets and Kindles give us skills to prosper, but rob us of the “deep reading” for our brains (Carr 734). Incorporating technology in classrooms has both pros and cons on our children’s learning. Smartboards allow students to express their knowledge to the rest of the class. Presentations using an animated powerpoint or an interactive Prezi are more appealing to the audience rather than an oral speech. Additionally, technology usage allows students to research any topic at the swipe of a finger. Although the ease of technology is great, it does not help our brains.
Gaining information from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing contributes to what Google refers to as “artificial intelligence” (Carr 741). It is described as “a HAL-like machine that might be connected directly to our brains” (Carr 741). The knowledge is not coming from the brain, but from a human-programmed hard drive. The extent of true knowledge versus artificial intelligence presents the pros and cons when technology is used in early childhood education classrooms. The Internet replaces our brains. Asking “Google” questions prevent us from thinking.
The author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid” declares that “In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained undistracted reading of a book … we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas” (Carr 743). Forming our own thoughts comes from true comprehension, something that the Internet does not provide. The Internet is too accessible within the twenty-first century. With having technology at our fingertips; we lose the ability of using our brains to solve simple routine tasks.
Carr describes the Internet as “becoming our map nd our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV” (738). Our devices have become a conglomerative apparatus. Our iPhones and Samsung Galaxies are computers, cellphones and radios. We cannot even perform basic algebra in our heads without using a calculator. Technology makes education easier, but slows down brain development in young children. Technology in early childhood education relies heavily on educators. Teachers have the option to incorporate technology in their lesson plans. Not every teacher agrees that technology benefits learning.
In studies based on teachers’ stances on technology, Guskey “found that teachers’ attitudes do not change until they have seen in practice that a theory or instructional strategy will work” (Guskey 45-51). Training for workshops on the proper techniques for integrating technological devices within classrooms are essential. Educators have to be skilled and proficient technology users in software programs such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint that will be used heavily in early childhood education. The education of teachers on technology usage is vital for success within early childhood education.
Early childhood education institutions are established to fulfill the education needed for young minds to grow. An institution such as Head Start strives to fight poverty with educating children from low socioeconomic families. Parette, Quesenberry, and Blum emphasize the purpose of early childhood education settings as the ability to “(a) successfully transition into public school, (b) participate effectively in the curriculum, and (c) demonstrate achievement in key content areas” (337). The only way children can achieve in the curriculum is to learn the fundamentals. In order to read and write, one must know the alphabet.
Handwriting is essential to know how to succeed. Within the twenty-first century, handwriting is being replaced by print. There are no cursive written letters being sent out to loved ones any more due to electronic mail. Although the integration of technology will prepare our children for this technological age, brain development will decrease. The fundamentals such as cursive writing strengthens our cognitive skills but are dwindling because of technological advancements. Technology stands in the way of the purpose of early childhood education, which is the mastery of fundamentals.
Teachers need to be willing to change with the twenty-first century. As technology is continually advancing, so should the use within early childhood education. Parette, Quesenberry, and Blum convey what the educational field loses from the lack of technology”… a vast cadre of new and powerful learning tools” (339). These new and powerful tools allow boring, sleep inducing lectures to come alive. Interactive oral presentations grab the attention of young minds to have the strong will for learning. Children will have the opportunity to climb the ladder of success in the twenty-first century.
Parette and Stoner respond with the projected end result of tech-sawy educators “Once familiarity with technology is developed, along with opportunities to use it in classroom settings repeatedly, positive outcomes with children may be anticipated”(339). Those positive outcomes are when children gain the life-application segment of a lecture. For an example, the metamorphosis of amphibians in Biology is a topic that does not have life’s purpose explicitly stated. However with deep thinking, the life application is revealed in one’s mind. Every living creature that roams the Earth has a purpose in life to fulfill.
After the task is completed, life terminates. Antitechnology educators deprive students of the experiences technology offers to the world: a connection to a meaning in life. Technology in early childhood education classrooms provides the students with opportunities for success. In the twenty-first century, it is hard not to notice technological devices such as iPhones, laptops, tablets and many others. Technology is incorporated in fast food restaurants, office buildings, vehicles, but is slow with the progression in early childhood education. Tech-sawy students are able to climb the ladder faster with that advantage in today’s society.
Although, technology has benefited early childhood education, the students’ cognitive skills have decreased tremendously. The ability to use our brains to think analytically to solve a complex issue declines due to lack of concentration. Fundamentals of learning are lost due to technological advancements. Mastery of fundamentals is the objective of early childhood education but technology serves as an obstacle. Technology use in education may seem small when stacked against other dilemmas (world poverty, hunger, homeless) in our society but it has the greatest impact on our children- the future generations.