There is a wide variety of educational resources that we can explore in the classroom. The most important thing is to have a learning objective according to the cognitive development and maturity of the children, with a constructive use of new technologies.
Despite the growing effort by many teachers to incorporate didactic information technologies into the preschool classroom, their use has been limited to educational computer games and the projection of videos on smart boards.
However, there are other educational resources that we can also explore in the classroom, which do not require an exorbitant budget. For this, a clear learning objective according to the children’s cognitive development and maturity is absolutely necessary. Also, as teachers, we must be aware that we are educating our little digital natives in the appropriate and constructive use of new technologies.
Nowadays, there are multiple educational platforms and teacher blogs, such as Mi aula de infantil and La clase de Miren, as well as social network groups where we can find the good practices of teachers who are experienced in the use of educational technologies, such as tablets, mobile devices, smart boards and robots, and which serve as a model and an inspiration for our own performance. Moreover, these resources confirm that any content can be addressed using a technological tool with an educational objective.
In my classroom I try to use a variety of technological tools as an additional resource, never as the only one, to accomplish the learning objectives in different areas. Augmented reality applications such as Quiver or Chromville, for example, help us to work on diverse subject-related aspects and interaction with the environment. Students are amazed to see how their own creations (a human body, a winter landscape or a world map they have just colored) come to life on paper. Apart from being motivating, they facilitate learning by offering a more real approach and providing students with a 3-D view of a globe or the human body.
QR codes are also very useful at this stage to disseminate all types of information related to daily life in the classroom. Some application examples are: indications on our ongoing project, new clues, secrets about our classroom pet, among others. A simple initiative is to include a code on a piece of cardboard for children to take home and, using a phone or tablet, they can reveal to their family the hidden recording of a poem recitation, a dance, a song or a photo album, thus disseminating their own creations and classwork. QR codes can also be allies for working on diverse curricular content. We can use them as word decoders in a reading and writing game, inserting next to the word or phrase a code that will show children an image of what they have read, so they can check for themselves whether or not they got it right.
Preschoolers can also have fun with basic programming and robotics tools in the classroom. As a starting point, using only their own body instead of technological resources, we can introduce students to the concept of programming through a motor skills game that allows them to discover how an action or an order generates a specific movement. In this way, we transform the children into little robots that move over a grid drawn on the floor, by following the instructions their classmates give them through cards with directional arrows. Then we can move on to more complex board games such as Robot Turtles (ages 4 and up) and finally use small robots such as Bee-Boot or Robot Mouse that can easily be found in stores and online.
These tools encourage problem solving, spatial organization and logical thinking, while we work on content such as vocabulary, numbers, counting, or reading cartoons and images.
The experience of integrating this type of tools into the preschool classroom has allowed me to observe, on the one hand, their enormous didactic potential and, on the other, that children feel incredibly comfortable and confident in this area, but with the supervision of the teacher.
Mobile devices form part of our little pupils’ daily lives and are, in many cases, readily available to them. Even though they appear to have mastered them technically, good technical management is not indicative of proper, constructive and responsible use. Our duty is precisely to teach and impress upon them their proper use from an early age, bearing in mind that these devices will be around throughout their lives. Consequently, incorporating technological tools with appropriate teaching methodologies is essential, making them a natural part of daily life at school.
To develop students’ digital literacy, we first need to be aware of our own shortcomings and become, fearlessly and confidently, the first learners.
I would like to invite all teachers to reflect together on how we are using ICT. To do so, we need to be trained and have the capacity to step outside our comfort zone, in order to discover the magic that is generated in the educational experience once the panic zone has been overcome.
About the author
Ana María Losada Antón (firstname.lastname@example.org) holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and a diploma in preschool education. She teaches at Colegio Público de Toledo, Castilla – La Mancha (Spain) and is also a member of the collaborative group Bricolaje Digital, created to integrate digital tools in schools and reflect on new educational trends.