L.H. Sillat, K. Kollom, K. Tammets

Tallinn University (ESTONIA)
Compared with the educational system early childhood education can be still considered as a newcomer in integrating information- and communication technology (further mentioned as ICT) into kindergarten teaching and learning process. Furthermore the process of digital competencies development in teacher education and integrating ICT into pedagogical practice has not been widely researched. The purpose of the article is to analyze the development of digital competencies among kindergarten teachers during the studies and how teacher training supports the formation of digital competencies in kindergarten teachers. Also how kindergarten teachers are able to integrate ICT into teaching and learning process. Research based design was followed during the research process.

The study was conducted in three phases.The first part of the study which was based on finding out how teacher training can support the development of digital competencies was carried out from October 2013 until March 2014. The second phase of the study was carried out from November 2014 until January 2015 with the aim of mapping possible curriculum design changes that would support the development of digital competencies in pre-school teacher training. The third phase of the study which focused on how teachers can integrate ICT into kindergarten teaching and learning process was carried out from November 2016 until March 2017.

Results of the study demonstrate that the initial curriculum design and learning outcomes do not support the development of digital competencies in teacher training with the exception of minor speciality which is based on the ISTE competence model for teachers. Thus the most important changes in curriculum design are integrating digital competencies into curriculum learning outcomes, course integration and collaboration among the academic staff in curriculum design. Furthermore supporting the development of digital competencies of the academic staff and creating possibilities for practical technology use in higher education. The research participants also stated that modern technology can be used as a teaching tool, information searching agent, and while creating learning materials, as well as working with children, using a variety of software and technological solutions but it does not necessarily come down to digital competencies rather than teachers leadership and self-management skills.