Australian Catholic University (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 3623-3631
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
The use of technology in Early Years literacy and numeracy programs has a growing body of research supporting its use (Brooker, 2003; Chantel, 2003; Chantel, 2005; Judge, Puckett & Bell, 2006; Kankaanranta & Kangassalo, 2003; Leung, 2003; Sheridan & Pramling Samuelsson, 2003). These studies have shown that Early Years learners have few difficulties operating hardware and are able to follow simple tailor-made software programs. Technology has a pervasive influence in modern life and children have a vast array of learning experiences often with technology, before they start school (Brooker 2003). This exposure to technology at a young age facilitates a familiarity and confidence in these young learners. Interactions with their family and with technology combine to affect their literacy development (Chantel, 2003; Judge, Puckett & Bell, 2006). Computers and associated technologies help Early Years learners to develop fine motor skills, alphabet recognition, pre-mathematical skills, concept learning, cognitive development, self-esteem, social skills, and school readiness skills (Brooker, 2003; Chantel, 2003; Judge, Puckett & Bell, 2006; Kankaanranta & Kangassalo, 2003; Leung, 2003; Sheridan & Pramling Samuelsson, 2003). It would be logical to conclude that Early Years learners who engage with technology develop more proficient literacy and numeracy skills than their peers who do not (Chantel, 2003). An important aspect associated with technology for Early Years learners is the concept of ‘play’. In this context ‘play’ does not refer to random, unstructured engagement; rather it describes creative, experimental and purposeful activity. Effective Early Years teachers can mediate this activity to ensure genuine learning. Software programs and hardware have been designed to be engaging and readily accessible for young children thereby enabling learning to occur within the context of play (Brooker, 2003; Chantel, 2005). The project reported in this paper spotlights three key areas: (1) the development of emergent literacy and numeracy in Indigenous learners, (2) the use of Robotics (LEGO WeDo™) with Early Years learners, and (3) the development of digital literacy and digital access for Indigenous Early Years learners. LEGO WeDo™ was released in late 2009, and was specifically designed to be used with children in the Early Years of formal schooling. To date, this has not been a readily accepted age-group for use of robotics. This paper will outline a pilot project that has been undertaken in two combined Prep -Year 1 classes in Brisbane, Australia during Semester 2, 2010. Both of these classes have children from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds, with a significant proportion of the children from Indigenous backgrounds. In all, 37 children were involved in the two pilot projects, and data sources include concept assessment, participation survey, and codings of video recordings. Insightful interview data from the class teachers is also analysed in light of the focuses of the projects.
Creative technology, robotics, early childhood, emerging literacy and numeracy.