Computers and technology are present in most areas of everyday life. From telephones to CT scanners, technology has changed the way we live. In classrooms teachers are incorporating technology into their lesson plans and at some schools children are given laptops in grade 3. In this report we research the positive effects of incorporating technology on children’s cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development. Are teachers embracing this change in teaching and is adequate training and in-servicing available to them? Are parents aware of the changes taking place within their child’s classroom? Background
The 21st century has seen the drawing of a new age, a computer age. “The development of the computer for learning is regarded as one of the major achievements of the twentieth century. ” (Etherington, 2008, p. 35). There has been negative press in regards to childhood obesity due to the increase in inactive time spent on computers and game consoles and the anti-social impacts of too much screen time. “For the majority of children computers pose (or contribute to) health hazards and serious developmental problems, such as repetitive stress injuries, eyestrain, obesity, and social isolation” (Etherington, 2008, p. 3). With the negative press in mind the survey conducted for this report looks at ‘What are the positive outcomes of incorporating ICT (information, communication and technology) into classrooms? ’
Do parents know what technology is available to their children in the classroom? What training has been conducted to ensure that teachers are making the most of the technology resources available to them? According to Brady and Kennedy (2003), “Australian governments have clearly taken up the challenge of transforming schools to meet the challenges of the information age” (Jamieson-Proctor and others, 2006, p. 13). As this report is being written a study is underway in Queensland Education to explore the use of ICT in the classroom. Technology is a way of life and children need to be equipped with the knowledge to use these tools. Computers were invented to enhance our everyday life. March and Smith (1995) state that “Whereas natural science tries to understand reality, design science attempts to create things that serve human purposes. ” (Arnott, 2006, p3). For that part, teachers need to understand this importance when incorporating technology into the classroom.
Teachers have a vast array of technology at their disposal, from computers, phonic ears, IWB (interactive white boards), iPad’s, Ipods, calculators and computer labs. None of this is important or advantageous to the students if the teacher does not know how to use them. “The problem is… lack of adequate training and lack of understanding of how computers can be used to enrich the learning experience” (US Department of Education, 2004, p. 22) as cited in Newhouse, C. , 2005. Teachers need to be provided with training opportunities in new technology to pass on the knowledge to their students.
Having worked with children and computers, the author has hands on experience in the benefits of computers and technology on prep children. The excitement of remembering a password without prompting, completing all the tasks set by the teacher and getting to the next level, the children are motivated and enthusiastic about this lesson. Children who have issues with hand writing a sentence can easily write their story on a computer for all to read. Computers need to be embraced by teachers and their benefits need to be exposed.
There is a degree of caution when using computers with children and protecting them from any unsavoury material that can be found whilst searching the internet. It is the schools responsibility to ensure that all computers have adequate blocks in place to protect the children at school. At home it is the parents responsibility to ensure their computers are safe. Schools work with parents to ensure they stay informed of the resources available to them by sending home brochures and by conducting information sessions. The Australian government has a website dedicated to ensuring children stay safe online, http://www. taysmartonline. gov. au. There top tips are to install security software and run regular updates, use strong passwords, stop and think before you click on links and attachments, regularly check your privacy settings talk to your child about staying safe online and report any threating interactions to the governments Cyber safety branch (Stay Smart Online, 2010). The Methodology The quantitative data for the report was collected from various sources. Curtin online library has a wide range of journals written on the subject of computer use.
From the references used in the online library the researcher was then able to find authors, whom have also contributed to research in this field. The researcher then refined the inquiry questions based on information that was already available. Once the main inquiry question had been refined, the interview questions were constructed (appendix 1). The participants’ chosen were from the one school community. The school used is advanced in their use of technology and it was decided that two teachers would be interviewed, who had differing teaching styles.
The parent chosen for the inquiry was randomly selected. All three participants were asked to sign consent form before participating in the inquiry (appendix 2). Methodology – the limitations As this report is being written, Queensland Education is conducting a survey on Classroom Technology. Queensland Education has discovered a lack of quantitative data exists in this area. This has also been discovered during this inquiry. There are research figures available from other countries but not from Australia. The questions asked were open to interpretation.
One interviewee’s answers with single word responses, which did not give the researcher the answers they were seeking. Further studies undertaken will need to include questions that direct the line of responses to ensure the proposed outcome. In the school community the parents and teachers are very diverse in the understanding of technology offered to their students and children. A widespread survey, data collection from more than three people, would have collected better results. During the survey the researching was unable to secure an interview time with the school counsellor.
In future studies, getting the opinion of non-teaching staff would be advantageous. The Results Section The following table outlines the qualitative and quantitative data collected in this study. The qualitative data has been sourced from teachers and parents, the quantitative data was sourced from journals and studies carried out in this field. |Question |Qualitative Data |Quantitative Data | |Did you attend training or were you |Both teachers interviewed have attended |“children’s increased access to | |self-taught? |training.
One teacher indicated that |technology in schools will mean little | | |since she attended training new equipment|unless coupled with professional | | |has been installed and she needs to be |development and ongoing support for their| | |retrained. |teachers” (Sandholtz, 2001) as cited by | | | |Wenthworth & Munroe (2011, p. 266). | |Do you use computer based learning |All participants use educational software|“Computer games have levels of difficulty| |programs with your children/students? |with their students/children. that children can master and move to the | | | |next level; they have sound effects and | | | |verbal reinforcements; and they are | | | |embedded in popular culture icons that | | | |children identify. ” (Blake 2011, p. 86) | |Do you have any concerns with children |No one had concerns, as the children are |“Interactive technologies involved in the| |using computers at school? |well supervised. There needs to be a |delivery of the curriculum have a place | | |balance between handwriting, reading and |within the psycho-social, not just the | | |computer use. |physical structures of a learning | | | |environment” (e. . Lynch, 1990) as cited | | | |in Newhouse C. , (2005). | | | | | | | | | |
What benefits do you believe ICT has on a|Problem solving strategies, creativity, |“Young children that use computers do | |child’s cognitive development? |advantageous for students with learning |show more gains in cognitive skills | | |difficulties |compared with children that do not have | | | |computer access. ” (McCarrick & others, | | | |2007, P. 90) | |What benefits do you believe ICT has on a|Fine motor skills, dexterity of fingers. |“Studies have found that computer use | |child’s physical development? |enhances children’s fine motor skills. ” | | | |(Li, 2004, P. 1716) | |What benefits do you believe ICT has on a|Confidence in completing tasks, skills in|“Social development is about interacting | |child’s social development? |interaction learned through games and |with others and making friends; and being| | |used in ‘real’ social settings |able to adapt in order to get along with | | | |other children and teachers. ” (Blake and | | | |others, 2011, p. 125) | |Any concerns regarding use of computers |Use of age appropriate activities, |“
Parents were overwhelmingly positive | |on child development? Inappropriate content and cyber bullying. |about their children using computers, | | | |noting their acquisition of computing | | | |skills as well as software-specific | | | |knowledge and skills as beneficial. | | | |Concerns about the children using | | | |computers were not expressed”. (McKenney,| | | |2010, p. 657) | Discussion and Analysis This study looked at the positive benefits of technology on children. It uncovered positive attitudes towards the inclusion of technology based learning in the classroom. A study conducted in 2011 looked at the inclusion of computers into classrooms through out the world.
It highlighted the use of Interactive White Boards, as they encourage group collaboration and promote active learning experiences (Sameerchand, 2011). The school in our study uses interactive whiteboards in the classrooms and encourage children to participate in group activities, as well as teacher lead demonstrations. The use of the interactive white board motivates students and excites them. Working in groups is an enriching experience of problem solving, encouraging complex speech and interaction between students.
Every member of the group sharing their ideas, strengths and “will take them to places that as individuals they, never dreamed they could reach” Hill 1996 (as cited in Biggs, F. , & Potter, J. 1999, p. 103). Working in groups enhances student learning as every student has different prior knowledge of the subject being taught. In a well constructed group every student is able to interact within the group. Both teachers interviewed had attended training on the technology they have in their classrooms. One teacher indicted that her training was out of date and that the resources she had developed for the old technology could no longer be used.
This has led to her not using technology as much as she would like to. Technology in the classroom goes far beyond the teacher’s use of applications that support instruction (Wentworth & Monroe, 2011). “Teachers alone have responsibility in this respect and their role in integrating new technologies into curriculum planning to ensure student engagement includes intellectual involvement. ” (Jones & others, 2011, p38). A lot of the research found on the topic of technology in the classroom was directed at the teachers integration of technology into the classroom. There needs to be a balance between computer based teaching and hands on teaching.
There also seems to be a push towards teachers being educated on the programs available to them. “There is no doubt that the introduction of E-learning to primary schools has been one of the most significant developments for teachers and students, yet it seems to have had little effect on the way teachers teach’ (Etherington, p. 30). Teachers need to embrace the use of technology in the classroom. Programs and software are developed and can be developed to incorporate all curriculum being taught. With the correct training, teachers can pass on their knowledge to students and motivate them by incorporating technology into lessons.
Technology is the way the students communicate at home and with friends, so should be utilised for its positive benefits in the classroom. This study highlighted the positive benefits computers have on student’s physical development. Although there have been reports on obesity being linked to increased inactive time, our interviewees did not dwell on this fact. The increased use of “computers, televisions, game consoles and mobile technology that often displace physical activity, sedentary activity, particularly screen time, has become a paramount issue” (Hawley & others 2010, p. 16) in the rise of childhood obesity. The positive benefits highlighted by our study were related to fine motor skills and dexterity of fingers. Jones & others 2011 stated that the use of technology could make schoolwork more efficient and easier whilst “enabling text and image construction, calculation, information access, storage and retrieval” (p38).
This has been seen in the classroom, as children who have difficulty with writing skills are about to express themselves through use of computer programs. The Alliance for Childhood acknowledges that for children with certain disabilities, technology offers clear benefits” (Etherington, 2008, p. 37). Straker and other 2010 suggest that to get the most out of computers children should demonstrate a “mixture of keyboard and mouse use may provide some exposure variation” (p. 460). Straker and others 2010 also suggested that children be encouraged to move around and change their posture during computer sessions. When it comes to socio-emotional development of children, the responses were positive.
The interviewees believe that the skills learned whilst playing computer games were great tools to bring over into ‘actual’ life experiences. “teaching through games and simulations has a potential to engage today’s students who are masters of multitasking through information and communication technologies’ (Demirbilek & Lema 2010 p. 709). Social networks make it easier for children to express themselves with peers also. Children who usually would not be comfortable to communicate in the group setting of a classroom, particularly Asperger’s children, find confidence behind a computer screen.
Whilst working on computers in groups children tend to interact with each other by narrating what they are doing as they manipulate the screen (Samerrchand). There always a hive of social activity in the computer group. There needs to be balance between socialising online and physical social interaction. “Kids born into any new culture learn the new language easily, and forcefully resist using the old” (Etherington, p. 37). This is true of the computer age with children being far more knowledgeable than parents and teachers in their technology usage. Educational Implications
The findings of this report highlight the need for ongoing training for teachers. Teachers from a more traditional time may not have embraced technology as readily as a new teacher to the school. Utilising the skills brought to he school from a new graduate would be advantageous to the school community. Employing or electing an ICT coordinator from the teaching staff would be another great idea for schools. “ICT are at the core of teaching and learning in the 21st Century. Queensland’s future depends on how successfully we integrate ICT in the curriculum and daily learning and teaching” (Jamieson-Proctor and others, 2006, p. 13). Todays students are computer savvy and it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that their students are inspired to learn. The use of educational games and activities incorporated into lesson plans will ensure they stay motivated and focused.
The findings in this report act as positive reinforcement to teaching staff that their efforts to incorporate ICT into the classroom is having a positive effect on students and parents. As new technology is developed teachers need to be provided training to ensure that the students are being exposed to the most up to date resources. In order to build a 21st Century schooling system, we need teachers to understand how ICT promote higher order thinking skills and deepen understanding in all key learning areas” (Jamieson-Proctor and others, 2006, p. 513). ICT is being incorporated into school curriculums and teaching staff are, whom possess strong ICT skills, are developing lessons for the school to use. The school community can work together to ensure the inclusion of ICT in each classroom is achievable and enjoyable. Conclusion The benefits of ICT in the classroom reflect in all areas of child development.
The teachers and parent interviewed expressed only benefits that their children receive from the inclusion and no concerns were raised. In future studies it would be advantageous to interview a wider range of teaching staff, parents and specialist teachers. Classrooms are as individual as the teachers themselves and a wider selection of interviewees would see an impact in the findings. Expanding the questions into specific areas of positive development would be another factor. How technology has changed the way in which children with disabilities or learning difficulties adapt would be one such question to include.