Has technology made it into your pre-school setting yet? I refer not just to whiteboards and the lone computer screen in the corner of the room, but to hand-held devices, reading and numeracy applications and other tools that can bring learning to life.
If not, then it soon will. Technology is rapidly changing the way that teachers teach, and children learn, and this
is as true in early years as in any other sector of our education system.
Not surprisingly, much of the discussion about technology in education centres around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and whether it will one day replace human practitioners. People find this idea at once intriguing, and frightening. If you believe, as I do, that education is about more than just the mechanics of learning then we need not worry about robots taking our jobs as educators any time soon. Young children will always need the caring, nurturing input of their teachers, who understand each of their needs as no machine ever will.
But we can look ahead to how technology can help you in your work. From learning to tell the time, to grasping the basics of reading and maths, technology can help bring these aspects of learning to life, making it engaging and motivating, and allowing children to experiment on their own as well as with their pre-school teachers.
These are exciting times to be a learner. We have all seen how fearless children are when using technology. Somehow it comes naturally to them, and they instinctively know how it works. Imagine how much more efficiently you might be able to teach them, equipped with the appropriate technology.
For you, as busy practitioners, EdTech can make assessing and tracking their progress all the simpler, saving you time which can be spent on interacting with the children in your care.
Ideas into real life
At the EDUCATE project, we are creating opportunities and conditions for entrepreneurs and innovators to create educational technology (EdTech) that is useful and fit for purpose. We help them to turn their brilliant ideas and concepts into something real and tangible, revolutionising how practitioners work in
their settings, and how children learn.
Our project is based at the UCL’s Institute of Education and, with our partners, we offer practical and business advice, clinics and training on how to conduct research into ‘what works’ and how to understand existing research evidence. This aspect of our work is vital and underpins everything we do – there is no point in developing EdTech products if they’re not fit for purpose.
Ready for a trial?
This is where we need your help and expertise as early years practitioners.
We want to hear from you if you’re a potential entrepreneur with an idea for a EdTech product or service that can be applied to an early years setting. Perhaps you’ve already developed a EdTech idea and are using it with children in your nursery or pre-school.
We would also like to team up with you if you’re willing to trial some of the ideas our cohorts are working on. Among our current project participants, for example, we have companies working on products relating to teaching, to phonics, as well as games aimed at parents to prepare children for starting school.
By trialling their ideas, you would be playing an important, pioneering role in shaping the development of EdTech and its use in early years.
If you have an idea or would like to find out more about the EDUCATE project, go to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rose Luckin is professor of Learner Centred Design and director of EDUCATE.