PLAYING WITH TECHNOLOGY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: CREATION OF A PLAY CENTER
1 Polytechnic of Viseu, School of Education and CI&DEI (PORTUGAL)
2 Polytechnic of Viseu, School of Education (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Technology is an important part of what children experience in their daily life and in formal contexts like Early Childhood Education. For the Portuguese Curricular Guidelines, technology is part of the curricular area Knowledge of the World. It's acknowledged that the contexts, phenomena, and relationships that children connect with are technology-laden and, therefore, children should learn about technology and have a good and critical relation with it. The introduction of technology in Early Childhood Education centers needs, therefore, to be intentional and pedagogical. Following Early Childhood Pedagogy, listening to children and opportunities for rich and meaningful play are two important tenets.
A study was developed in the context of a Master's Degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education about the meanings children attribute to technology in the context of creating and exploring a play center. Data collection took place in an Early Childhood Education center in Viseu, with 20 children between 3 and 6 years old. The descriptive study was based on participant observation and interviews with children. The creation of the play center was preceded by interviews with children about technology. The interviews were informal and took place in the center, during the normal daily routine. Permissions were obtained from the parents and also from the children, who were asked if they wanted to help with a special assignment. After analyzing the data, a project approach (Katz & Chard, 2009; Vasconcelos, 2011) was prepared and initiated. The planning was flexible and the project resulted in the involvement and participation of children in the reconstruction of the educational space of the activity room to create the "repair ICT" play center that had several real devices (laptops, PSP, tablets, mobile phones, flash drives) for make-believe situations. In this study, children's play was assumed to be essential for learning (Ministry of Education, 2016; Pramling & Fleer, 2009), also within the scope of technology (Aldhafeeri, Palaiologou & Folorunsho, 2016; Edwards, 2016; Nikolopoulou & Gialamas, 2015). With the creation of the play center, it was intended that children explored technology in various aspects: the play center afforded the role of users but also repair specialists, knowing how they work “from the inside”. The results suggest that the diversity of electronic devices and the possibilities of manipulation and free exploration in the context of playing allowed children to develop a diverse relationship with technology that included agency and specific knowledge related to the components and technical and social usage of the devices.
Keywords: Early childhood education, technology, play, pedagogy, children's perspectives.