This blog post is a summary of the first meeting of the Action Research Group this was an opportunity for the participants to get to know each other and to discuss the project. The participants come from a range of early years settings and include a play group leader, nursery teachers from stand-alone nurseries and teachers from nursery classes, reception classes and a year 1 class in local authority schools.
Participants had been asked to share something from their class that they felt was a good indication of their approach to teaching and learning. While they were not restricted to discussing technology a number of the participants chose to do so.
The group identified a number of key words and phrases that reflected their approaches:
- Promoting independence
- Purposeful activities
- Challenging the children
- Supporting assessment
- Encouraging reflection and discussions about how they, the children, learn
- Giving children a voice
Examples of activities included:
- Using apps to get children enthusiastic and wanting to write – YAKit and Quiver
- Using apps and devices to support speech and communication – Dinosaurs, Keezy and Walkie Talkies
- Recording children’s learning with Floor Books, photographs and video
- Supporting children to reflect on what they have done and on their learning
- Using apps to support a learning challenge curriculum – Morpho
- Supporting learning outside the setting
- Using email to engage parents
- Children using broken technology, taking it apart, writing about what they would make with it
I will be writing about each of the apps mentioned in future blog articles.
Using technology in early years
In order to join the project participants had to be interested in developing the use of technology in their setting, so it is not surprising that all of the participants felt that technology could support teaching and learning in their setting. They felt that it could be used anywhere and to support the whole curriculum but they believed that the technology should not be the most important thing, it needed to support the learning objectives. While it was seen as a resource that could be integrated across the setting, there was also a view that sometime it was necessary to have discrete ICT lessons, either to teach children how to work devices or software, or to teach them rules about how to look after them.
Barriers to using technology in early years
The group identified a number of barriers:
- Access to resources – participant come from different settings and not all of them had access to much technology
- The cost of resources
- Technology can be broken easily
- Technology can be seen as a novelty, it needs to become an everyday resource
- Lack of knowledge about what is available and how it can support teaching and learning
- Parents may be reluctant to engage with technology. In one setting they were reluctant to look at children’s work on iPads but enjoyed looking a Floor Books
- Having time to train children and staff to use technology purposefully
- Managing resources that are not available all the time
- Technical problems e.g. problems with accessing wifi
In an ideal world the practitioners would like
- More equipment, especially iPads, so that it was available all of the time and not seen as a novelty or something to fight over
- Video cameras, or other devices that could record children’s activities and support communication and language
- Access to an ICT expert who could help them develop their knowledge
- Tools to support parental engagement and communication to help practitioners know what children are doing at home, and to share information with parents about what children had done in the setting – e.g. Tapestry, Seesaw
Expectations about the project
After a short discussion about Action Research the group discussed what they hoped to get from the project. Each participant identified their own aims and the aims below were common to everyone:
At the next meeting we will be looking at more detailed plans to show what each participant will be working on.