The Role of Technology in Preschool Education
Posted on 30 July 2015
Recent decades have witnessed a dramatic surge in the use of technology in education. Nowhere has this trend been more apparent in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, where a great many have incrementally modernised their IT facilities to cope with the evolving demands of students in the 21st Century. Despite the worldwide recognition technology has garnered for its value in formal education however, its benefits and advantages in the preschool sector have yet to be fully realised.
Why has progress been slow in this domain? Many experts have maintained that technology is not developmentally appropriate for children, and that young learners lack the motor skills and the dexterity required to optimise complex hardware at an early age. Indeed, it would appear that parent or teacher guidance is necessary to ensure that children use interactive tools and resources to their full advantage. At the same time, there is also an inherent risk that technology would not be able to fulfil the right balance of visual knowledge retention, physical play, social interaction that form the basis of a child’s development.
While research has only recently been carried out in this area, most childhood specialists and researchers alike have already acknowledged that technology is by far the most effective medium of engaging a child’s attention. Unlike classroom activities that rely on traditional instruction to deliver information, technology is a powerful medium that taps into the human brain’s preference for visually presented information, a process that resolves the longstanding problem of sustaining a child’s attention span.
Ever wonder why children are constantly unable to sit still, and yet fully capable of staying focused while learning through computers? Children are active mobile learners who channel their energy into multiple methods of knowledge for cognitive stimulation. Technology, when used appropriately, is versatile enough to address the different dimensions of learning required for a child to progress in his/her development. It provides opportunities for children to explore the world, independently tackle challenges and acquire proficiency in different learning spheres. Above all else, technology is capable of adapting to and matching alternate learning styles, which is aligned with the various learning areas outlined in Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Perhaps even more surprising is the positive impact of interactive technology on interpersonal skills and social development. Due to the passive nature of learning through technology, it would be natural to assume that children would not be able to attain the optimum level of emotional and social stimulation required for healthy development. This could not be further from the truth, as studies have shown that children who use computers and interactive media demonstrate a greater willingness to engage in spoken communication and cooperation with their classmates.