Conversations about technology in early childhood education

Volume 4 Number 1 - April 2015

Editoral

This edition of He Kupu is a first, in that it draws together a selection of papers from the fourth New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC) conference held in November 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. While the subject of ICT in early childhood education has been the subject of an earlier edition of He Kupu (see Vol. 2 No. 5), this edition sees a diverse number of presenters from across the sector in New Zealand who report on their perspectives on ICT and the early years. Although the papers are shorter than in recent editions of He Kupu, the variety of topics and novel ideas make up for the length of each paper.

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Practitioner Researcher

The discussion concerning gender and sexual diversity in the early childhood education field is multifold. It encompasses many principles and strands addressed in Te Whaariki including inclusion, relationship, empowerment, multiculturalism, and equity. However, in the academic discourses concerning this topic, there is a general consensus that this has been a much‐neglected area (Gunn, 2011; Hogan, 2013; MacNaughton, 2005; Robinson, 2002; Taylor & Blaise, 2007). On top of that, sexuality is probably one of the most controversial topics in the early childhood education field (Gordon, Browne, & Cruz, 2008), shunned by many practitioners with the remarks of being irrelevant or an adult issue, despite the fact that a growing number of our children have parents who have diverse sexuality, let alone the substantial proportion of children who will grow up to be non heterosexual (Gordon, Browne, & Cruz, 2008). This paper provides a glance at existing literature both addressing the issue in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand and elsewhere in the world. It approaches the topic through the: construction of gender and sexual identity and its relevance to early childhood education; the important role of the teacher in the construction of children’s values and identities; gender and sexual equity in New Zealand education sectors; and research undertaken in other parts of the world.

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Current research within early childhood settings shows that there are varying degrees of teaching abilities, resulting in different teaching styles and ways in which educators manage challenging behaviour with young children. This is a possible weakness, as inconsistency in approach can leave a child feeling distraught and confused. This paper examines how teachers can promote pro- social behaviour, supporting children’s rights, by using collaborative strategies for teachers and parents.

There are many reasons as to why the quality of an outdoor environment in an Early Childhood Education (ECE) setting is important for children’s learning and development. Current literature suggests that children thrive in a natural or naturalised outdoor environment. This paper will endeavour to present the major themes highlighted in literature relating to this topic. These are: the need for enriching natural environments; the areas in which children’s development greatly benefits from such environments; and, lastly, what an ‘ideal’ naturalised outdoor environment should consist of.

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This study emerged from a search for effective ways to incorporate mathematics/pāngaru into our Early Childhood Education (ECE) programme. Optimising mathematics learning outcomes in ECE requires using Te Whāriki as a curriculum base (Ministry of Education [MoE] 1996). While this delivers broad expectations that children will grow in familiarity with number and mathematics concepts, it doesn’t prescribe actual teacher practice. Looking at the literature in New Zealand and internationally reveals a number of viewpoints on delivering positive mathematics outcomes. This paper will examine strategies for increasing mathematics learning in a holistic way include focusing on the teacher’s role, the child, the environment and resources.

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Special Edition

It makes sense to get excited about new technological experiences in early childhood education. New media like mobile tablet and smart phone technologies have all kinds of exciting applications that can enrich the curriculum in exciting ways – some of which are explored in this issue of He Kupu.

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This article outlines the findings of a qualitative study investigating the deployment of a set of smart devices at an early childhood centre in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. The devices were introduced into the centre to support the children’s learning and communication. This study is a follow up to an earlier three month project launched in 2012, which focused on introducing devices into the kindergarten. The aim of this study is to determine how the teachers were using the devices two years since this trial. The study focused on how the teachers were using the devices to support teaching practice and inquiry. The findings indicated that the devices had become an embedded part of the culture of the centre. There was clear evidence that the teachers were actively engaging with the children’s learning and developing strategies for improving their teaching and learning. The study provides pedagogically sound examples of the use of mobile devices in supporting effective teaching and learning within the early childhood sector.

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Public libraries provide both online and offline spaces where families can explore reading and early digital literacy. Many public libraries provide a range of digital resources to their members, which can usually be accessed through the library’s website. In addition, some libraries offer regular programmes or activities which give children, families and educators access to digital devices or resources.

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This article is a personal narrative of a teacher’s journey into utilizing new technologies in a New Zealand early childhood classroom. It is hoped that sharing my personal experiences and discussing some of the challenges I faced with technology with young children will help practitioners and researchers alike to progress with implementing new technologies in early childhood settings.

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Information and communication technology (ICT) is described as a tool that can be effectively utilised in teaching and learning in all subject areas. This article investigates the impact of hands on ICT experiences on student teachers’ attitude towards ICT integration. This paper explores the best possible ICT experiences for early childhood student teachers, and how these experiences may influence their attitude and beliefs towards ICT integration in teaching and learning.

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After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, te reo Māori gradually became a minority language in Aotearoa. This has continued for many years and is still evident even today (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). In 1986, Sir James Hēnare stated to the Waitangi Tribunal “Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori (The language is the life force of mana Māori)” (as cited in Ka’ai, 2004). This statement by Hēnare captures the essence of te reo Māori, that the loss of language influences the loss of cultural pride, prestige and identity. However, since the 1970s, many initiatives have been developed to support the revitalisation of te reo Māori, including the establishment of the Māori Language Commission and Te Puni Kōkiri (Te Puni Kōkiri, 2011). As a result of these initiatives, resources are now being developed to support the learning of te reo Māori, including the use of technology.

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is acknowledged as being a significant part of many people's lives, including young children. Educational research suggests that the very nature of ICT, with its ever growing range of equipment and programs and increasingly interactive features, requires relational and collaborative pedagogical practices to accompany it. This aligns with evaluations of ICT use in Aotearoa New Zealand Early Childhood Education, that identify the need for more thoughtful and purposeful ICT pedagogy. This paper draws on findings from a small case study which examined, through a democratic lens, the relationship between ICT and teaching and learning. It argues that notions of democracy can add to an effective Pedagogy of ICT in early childhood education.

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Book Reviews

Contemporary Issues in the Early Years, co-edited by Gillian Pugh and Bernadette Duffy, has been written by highly acclaimed authors, with all contributors nationally or internationally involved in research and known for their contribution to the Early Years. This generalist early childhood textbook is very accessible, having been recently updated for the sixth time. First published in 1982, and last published four years ago, this particular edition captures the challenges facing the United Kingdom in light of the current economic climate.

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This book is authored by Justine Howard, a developmental and therapeutic play specialist, and Karen McInnes, a psychology and early childhood lecturer and primary school teacher. The book gives ample evidence of not only the detailed research which has gone into the writing of this compilation but also the rich and relevant professional experience of the authors. This book is certainly a useful resource for all professionals engaged in children’s learning and development through play.

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Contributors

Katherine Andrew, Simon Archard, Heather Bell, Danielle Carter, Andrew Gibbons, Sujatha Gomathinayagam, Dr Shirley Harris, Dr Kathryn MacCallum, Dr Christopher Naughton, Nicky O’Brien, Filipe Prieto, Roimata Rokx, Danielle Smith, Shanali Vindya de Rose, Peng Zou

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