Helping the Youngest Learners Use Technology Appropriately
With new technology developing daily, the question arises: How can it best be used with the youngest learners? Two local educators, Sue Polojac, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children's programming director, and Tanya Baronti Smith, Fred Rogers Center program coordinator, developed a manual that teaches educators how they can appropriately use digital media and technology with children from birth to eight years old. In the past two years, the "dynamic duo" has trained 30 educators. They have trained another 2,000 across Pennsylvania and now elsewhere in the U.S.
How did you develop this manual?
We used a position statement developed by the Fred Rogers Center and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. We received funding from the Grable Foundation and other sources to develop the "Digital Media Literacy and Technology Tools for Early Learning" manual, and we've shared this with educators around the state. We teach educators to use and get comfortable with technology.
What is problematic about technology use?
A lot of early educators fear using technology with young children — they see it as a babysitter. But technology is not just a TV screen. It includes music players, tape recorders, microscopes and more.
Why should educators incorporate technology in their settings?
Technology is a tool, just like any other tool in the classroom, like blocks, paper and crayons. Using it appropriately depends on the technology and how it's used. For example, young children use Skype and FaceTime to speak with grandparents from a very young age. That's technology. Our bottom line: We want educators to incorporate technology into the classroom and plan its use appropriately.