The LPS – ExCITE IPad initiative aims to develop Best Practices with Technologies in the Early Childhood Program.
While the program hardware resources were acquired with AARA Funds, the ExCITE program works with teachers in an ongoing basis to provide Professional Development in technology learning and in collaboratively developing a direct correlation of program objectives and the use of these tools.
Appropriate technology use in the early development years is critical. While the iPad can be a great learning tool on its own, just as blocks and crayons are, the social interaction that occurs when using an iPad is by far the most important aspect of this technology use in early years. Use of the iPads in the ExCITE classrooms is carefully planned, just as is learning with other materials. The learning that occurs through the use of this tool is within the program’s research based structure. In essence, iPads are a 21st century tool that provide students with a different medium for learning.
While ExCITE classrooms have been equipped with technologies such as video and digital cameras, as well as audio players and teacher computers, prior to the iPad implementation, the ExCITE program did not endorse the use of any “learner centered” technology device (unless for a special needs purpose.) The iPad was selected as the Early Childhood introductory technology device for reasons that support the program’s mission, goals, and objectives, as well as the research at its core. ExCITE considers the iPad device as a developmentally appropriate learning tool. The touch screen allows learners developing motor skills to practice those skills “risk free” on, yet, another medium. In addition to apps that mimic real life games such as puzzles, our program selected apps that provide multiple modalities for early literacy learning that are visually, auditory enhanced as well as interactive. Additionally, the iPad allows students to take pictures, record their voices, and video tape themselves, their environments and others to show what interests them and tell about their new learning in their words. In our program, this learning moves beyond the classroom when teachers share student-created and teacher-created videos easily with parents. Parents can get another glimpse at what goes on in the classroom and support the learner with similar learning at home.
Although the iPad is by all means a “screen” device, what ExCITE teachers and students are doing with them is far from what is categorized as a “screen time” type of action. These are learning tools and we use them as such, considering the learners they support. For instance, while videos are a powerful way to present and explain concepts, in the early years we are committed to providing students with opportunities to discover and create meaning through experiences taking place in safe, social classroom environments. iPads often aid, not necessarily in the discovery aspect of our learning, but in the excitement of documenting these discoveries, using our language to tell others about it and perhaps to practice or extend the learning.
As is the commitment of the ExCITE program in every aspect, our technology implementation is focused on preparing our students for career and college. ExCITE is continually evolving to address student needs and provide our diverse learners with exceptional learning opportunities that will give them a head start towards their future.
If you have any questions or comments about the ExCITE iPad Implementation, please don’t hesitate to contact us by leaving a comment on this post or e-mailing Laura Bartels – Federal Programs Instructional Technology Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org