The use of ICT within early years and schools is now an essential part of provision. ICT is used to help children with their learning and forms and area of learning in its own right. Government initiatives actively encourage practitioners to introduce and utilise ICT in the learning experience.
There are many things that practitioners can use in early years settings to implement ICT into the curriculum, for example: Camera: this is used to take pictures or videos in which the children can create memories with. They take pictures by using the screen to see the picture they are going to take and then they can press buttons to zoom in and out and another button to take the picture. Computer: this is where the children are able to do a variety of things on. The children may learn how to create a word document, how to simply log on and off, how to use the internet to get onto games like ‘Ceebeebies’. Printer: the children can use this to print off the work that they have created on a computer, whether this is a picture, some writing, information they have found and so on. Digital clock: this can be used as ICT as the children have to use buttons to set the clock to the correct time, and therefore it will also help the children to read the time.
Battery powered toys: these are all forms of ICT, for example, a roma. This is because the children are having to use buttons to make the toy work, for example, a toy car will have an on and off button in which the children have to press to make the car work. Alongside this, there will also be a remote control where the children use to direct the car to go where they want it to. I phone/ blackberry: this device allows the children to play on games, make and receive phone calls and texts. To create these, the children have to press the buttons on the phone in order for them to get to the phone book or the messages. Smart board: teachers use this a lot within primary school to help develop children ICT skills. For example, in the mornings they may put a game on it whilst the children are coming in so they can play. To use the white board, children have to use the pens that are synced with the board to enable them to click onto different programs and games and they are able to draw, research, and drag things on the board.
ICT (Information Communication Technology) plays a huge part in everyone’s
life no matter how old they are. Everyone is surrounded by ‘technology’ in our homes, our work places and in the local environment. Children are also surrounded by these ‘technologies’ in their everyday lives and need to recognise the role ICT plays in their lives. Children from a very early age should be given the opportunities to play with technology and explore the uses of these ICT resources. The only mention of ICT in the Early Learning Goals is within the Knowledge and Understanding of the World area of learning and development where it states – ‘Children should find out about and identify the uses of everyday technology and use information and communication technology and programmable toys to support their learning.’
ICT can be used effectively across all six areas of learning and development to engage the children in learning and enhance the EYFS curriculum. ICT is not just a computer with Early Years software installed. ICT is anything where you can press a button and make something happens, the beginnings of children understanding that technology requires programming and that they can be in control of making things happen. How ICT fits with EYFS in general:
·Provide challenges and explore.
·Plan for inclusion – i.e.; walkie talkie’s good for visually impaired, etc.
·Make use of outdoor areas.
·Give opportunities to explore findings – i.e.; drawing, writing models.
·Work out how things work.
·Build on interests – i.e.; boys, garages, and mechanics.
·Help with co-ordination.
·Design and make.
·Toys that use technology.
·Press parts, lift flaps.
·Turning on/operative – some without supervision.
·Not all about computers – therefore ICT away from computers. ·ICT in everyday contexts.
ICT should be used throughout the EYFS for learning and teaching through play. ICT and everyday technology is often being not recognised enough as
people think “computers” for technology. It is important for all settings to give a good grounding for later stages of technology so need to start off with simple switches, flaps, etc.Use remote control toys to teach all the stages BEFORE “programmable toys” to give knowledge and understanding. Typical educational uses of ICT might be something as simple as the introduction of a pretend mobile telephone to encourage imaginative role play, which children from a very early age will do quite naturally. The educational benefits of imaginative role play are well documented. A favourite computer application with many children is ‘Make a bug’ from the CD-ROM Millie’s Math House. This can be integrated as part of a more general class project, for example about insects and minibeasts.
But any application introduced to children in order to develop understanding and experience of ICT should not just be enjoyable, although this is important. It should be educationally effective too. Many settings and some parents use language and number programs, but these have very limited educational aims, such as practising addition or learning colours. These programs should be used on a minimal basis, as they promote a very directive form of teaching, normally with the use of a smiling face, a tick or a funny sound as a reward. Over-reliance on this kind of program risks reducing children’s motivation to learn. Children need a variety of resources which encourage a range of development, including creativity, self-expression and language. ICT resources should be implemented after a thorough discussion with staff and parents, wherever this is possible, about the educational benefits of the particular resource.
There are simpler ways of introducing ICT to the children in an early years setting. Encourage children to observe and talk about the uses of ICT in their environment. On local walks, for example, practitioners can talk with children about traffic lights, telephones, street lights or the bar-code scanners which identify prices in shops. the children might play with improvised pretend or real technological to support their imaginative role play. There are many opportunities in which children can integrate ICT into their play, but to do this they first need to know about ICT in their worlds. Practitioners play an important role in extending children’s awareness of ICT and in supporting their exploration of these experiences and their new knowledge within their play. Sometimes this will involve providing resources; it may mean joining in the play or observing children at play in order to identify more clearly how they are making sense of ICT in their worlds and their learning needs.
ICT is about much more than desktop computers. A pupil’s special educational need may arise from physical disability, sensory impairment, behavioural/emotional problems or cognitive differences. The degree of difficulty may range from mild to severe but learning opportunities should be available equally to all. For example, teachers will get expertise help in the use of control and switch technologies which may enable access and improve communication for those with motor impairment; they will be able to adjust hardware and modify software to accommodate those with poor sight or hearing difficulties; they could set up independent learning programs for children with emotional/behavioural disorders who may relate better to work on a computer than when directed by a teacher. Computers often seem to provide a preferred learning for children who are diagnosed with an autistic spectrum condition.
There is a wide range of devices that are used by students with special educational needs to support their learning. The following items are those most commonly found in schools. Some students need support organising their studies and their learning. ICT provides a range of software packages that enable the students to plan and organise their studies. Concept mapping software, such as Inspiration, provides the means by which students can show what they understand and prepare the content of their studies for later revision. There are different special educational needs where the student can benefit from having a recording of a lesson. Contemporary MP3 audio recorders are discrete, do not require tapes and have no moving parts. The recording can be easily transferred to a computer and copied to a CD for later use and archiving. There are many views to whether ICT actually does play an important role to the educational learning of a child, and whether it works effectively.
Young children learn effectively when working with other children and adults. The use of ICT therefore should include this by encouraging children to develop shared understandings with other knowledgeable children or adults. Adults who are confident in the use of ICT will be able to interact with children in ways that will most effectively promote their learning and the development of their self-esteem. I have seen this happen within my primary school placement when the children were put into pairs to share a computer. Once on the computer they had to get themselves onto a programme in which they were then able to retell the story of ‘The Gingerbread Man’. Some children worked well together and got a lot of the story written and drawn out. They were also learning about different ICT skills from one another and learning to do simple tasks like share. However, there were some children who did not take this opportunity to their advantage and instead did not get any work done as they were to busy socialising.
Children with additional support needs can also benefit from different ICT strategies such as touch screens and switches. Individual children will be motivated and encouraged by different forms of ICT. It is important therefore that ICT use is also sensitive to the differences of gender and cultural and language backgrounds. ICT can be used as a tool for increasing diversity in early year’s settings, for instance by promoting different languages. The increased use of ICT in early years can help to close the ‘digital divide’ and ensure that all young children have access to technologies which are part of their world, both now and in the future. From my experiences within early year’s settings, the nursery was able to try and use ICT as a form of communication for those with language barriers. Even simple things like, a child using a mobile phone in imaginative play to communicate with practitioners as the child was too shy to directly talk to them.
ICT resources can be used to impact on children’s learning in all areas of the curriculum. At present many computer resources concentrate on literacy and numeracy. However the use of resources such as floor robots and toys can be incorporated into opportunities for problem solving and cooperation. Similarly, ICT resources such as old mobile phones, computer keyboards and so on, can present creative learning experiences to enhance imaginative play. Role play with ICT can support children in developing literacy and numeracy skills, as well as promoting personal and social development.
The government is changing the way ICT is implemented within schools to help build on and shape a child’s learning. In 2008 they set up something called The Home Access Taskforce. The main aim of this was to provide computers and laptops and free broadband to those families who were on low income but had children at school age. They believed that this would help the children to build on their ICT skills at home as well as at school. ‘The Government has invested £5billion in schools’ ICT since 1997, with another £837million earmarked over the next three years.’ This shows that children’s access to ICT resources e.g. computers is quite high as the government has not just put computers in schools but they also put them in public places like the library. This therefore means that if a child does not have access to a computer at home, their parents will be able to take them to the local library in order for them to develop their ICT skills and learning.
With the government planning on funding more money for the children to use ICT resources, this will therefore mean that the children will have a greater opportunity in developing their ICT skills. There will be more resources to share between the children instead of them all trying to gather round one of computer. From government initiatives, funding for the use of smart boards within a classroom has risen and more schools are now getting them installed. These interactive white boards allow the teacher to use big colourful text, shapes and pictures. Government initiatives have also looked at the training and development teachers receive and what type of level of knowledge they have about ICT. Staff training is said to be diverse, ranging from those staff that need basic computer and technology knowledge to other staff wanting to develop at a more advanced level. Therefore, there is a need for the training to be delivered in a variety of different ways and at all different levels to help support the teacher’s development appropriately.
Only a small number of staff members within early year’s settings have ICT skills seen to be classed as excellent or good, whereas there was a bigger proportion of staff were there ICT skills were described as inadequate or basic. Even though the government makes sure that there are ICT training days available and running, there is only a small numbers of practitioners and teachers who actually attend, this may be because it is not compulsory and the setting are not pushing their staff enough to go. Although basic skills are still a necessity for many staff, accessing multimedia software is the most frequently identified training need. ‘In terms of ICT training needs, it was clear that with growing use of ICT in schools, the skills demands made of school staff is changing. It was also apparent that there was a wide range of ICT skills levels amongst staff and, as a consequence, a wide range of training needs. At one end of the spectrum, some teachers remain fearful or reluctant to use potentially timesaving ICT programs.
This lack of confidence is important to address since the survey found that levels of reported ICT confidence were higher for teachers who reported better workload reductions. At the other end of the spectrum, teachers have the confidence to use ICT but not time or experience to invest in using it to greater advantage. The extent to which these training needs are being adequately identified and met was not consistent across the schools visited. Whilst the survey data suggested that head teachers plan strategically in terms of ICT related training, there was limited evidence during the fieldwork that training needs were being properly assessed as part of the schools’ ICT strategies.’ Sir Jim Rose known as an educational expert wanted ICT to become a core subject within the curriculum alongside literacy and numeracy. However, he did say that this would not mean that other subjects such as science (which was also a core subject) would become less important.
“We are looking to literacy, numeracy and ICT as key skills running through the whole curriculum. In no way does that suggest we are stepping back from recognising the importance of science and technology.” Jim also wanted ICT to be used in all subjects, and for teachers to be given extra training to help them stay one step ahead of pupils. It means that pupils could use Google Earth in geography lessons, or teachers could use video conferencing to connect with pupils in other countries during foreign language lessons. The NGfL programme was launched in 1998 with the aim of raising standards through the use of ICT in education. New opportunities fund (NOF) was set up to fund the training of teachers in the development of ICT skills and in the use of ICT in subject teaching.
Between 1998 and 2000 LEAs set up departments to administer these developments and to provide training and support as appropriate, to help schools develop their ICT provision and embed ICT in the curriculum. DfES had invested heavily in ICT and planned to continue to invest. In April 2002 details of Standards Fund Grant for NGfL phase 5 was provided. Their funding was for many different purposes based on governments targets for computers with a pupil ratio of 1:7 within secondary school and 1:11 pupils in a primary school by the end of august 2002. The grant was to be spent on certain items relating to ICT provision specified by government including a percentage to be spent on educational content. Part of the fund was for high speed broadband connectivity – the government required 100% of schools to have this. Also, a separate source of money was provided to enable schools to buy equipment online.
The laptops for teachers scheme (LfT) put a huge amount of money into buying teachers new top of the range laptops. The DfES stated that their intention was to provide every head teacher and teacher who had not got a laptop or desktop through a government scheme in the past 3 years would be eligible for a new laptop. Schools were also asked to submit a detail ICT development plan which included a range of criteria set by the government and DfES in order to meet the requirements of the NGfL. These requirements were specifically looking at all schools using ICT to raise the standards and to achieve and exceed targets in literacy and numeracy, and in secondary schools, the aims of the Key Stage 3 strategy.
The national grid for learning in 2002 aimed to further schools development in their ICT capacity they wanted to do this through the use of broadband. The DfES required all schools be to be using a 2mb broadband connection by 2005, they had a contract that stated all Leicester schools will be connected over the next three years. In the academic year of 2003/2004 the QCA was researching into developing a high quality online screen test for ICT attainment at key stage 3 levels, they planned for this to be marked electronically and for it to give feedback on pupil’s strengths and weaknesses to enable teachers to make assessments of pupil’s attainment. Standards Fund Grants 2004-2005:
Their plan for this year was to fully embed ICT into teaching at all ages and levels. The national priorities was to achieve and maintain the computer pupils ratio of 1:5 in secondary schools and 1:8 in primary schools, development of the schools networks, the way in which teachers use ICT to support their teaching and learning across the curriculum and equipping more teaching areas with interactive whiteboards or digital projection. The IWB (interactive whiteboard) project (2002-2004) looked at the embedding of ICT in the literacy and numeracy strategies in year 5 and 6. They looked into
how interactive whiteboards affected the classroom and interaction between children and their teacher, how they support to teach numeracy and literacy, what the teachers and pupils think of them, and the impact they have on pupil’s attainment. They found that the interactive whiteboards where a positive feature to including ICT into the curriculum.
Standards Fund Grant 2005-2006:
This was the last year of the standards fund grant. The national priorities were researching in 2004/2005 and embedding ICT in learning and teaching across the curriculum and providing hands on support for teachers, reflecting the objectives of the primary national strategy and the keys stage 3 strategy and upgrading management systems.
Standards Fund Grant 2006-2008:
DfES stated that all schools need to be connected to a regional broadband which for Leicestershire was the embc. They also said that for this to work successfully the head and senior management team needed to be fully supportive and have a vision and commitment to support the implementation of learning technologies.
ICT funding 2008-2009:
The DCSF introduced the Harnessing Technology Grant. They looked into ICT within schools and found many areas of development. These included, upgrade of broadband connectivity, extension of IT access implementation of learning platforms to enable learners to store and access their work and resources on a secure online space to share resources and view individual progress, systems to achieve better use and integration of information to support learning including assessment, attendance, behaviour and more regular reporting and updates for parents.
E-skills were set up through the Sector Skills council. It identified the need to develop the ICTS skills of the workforce. The aim of E-skills was to help people develop on their ICT skills and individuals seeking to enter the workforce by undertaking research, developing resources and providing training opportunities. They are making sure Britain is getting the technology skills it needs to be able to be successful. They work on behalf of employers to develop the software, internet, computer gaming, IT services and business change expertise. E-Skills have a track record of making a real impact with their programmes such as Computer Club for Girls and the Information Technology Management for Business degree.
Becta was set up by the government to achieve quality. They wanted to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning. Becta provided leadership to: ·Embed the effective use of technology across the system in the most coherent, cost-effective way, now and for the future. ·Ensure the market develops products and services that meet the needs of education and skills sector and provide value for money.
(Thursday 3rd December 2009): ICT in Education: Harnessing Technology to Improve Educational Outcome: http://www.insidegovernment.co.uk/children/ict/index.php (at 20/10/12) DfES (2004): Using ICT in Schools – Addressing Teacher Workload issue: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/RR595.pdf (At 20/10/12)
(2008-2011): Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum: http://moodle.slcollege.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/4437/mod_folder/content/1/Independent_Review_of_the_Primary_Curriculum.htm?forcedownload=1Level 3Level 2 (at 20/10/12)
Gill Squire. (2007): BTEC National Diploma Children’s Care Learning & Development: Essex