Magazine article Technology and Children

Initiative for Lite

Magazine article Technology and Children

Initiative for Lite

Article excerpt

The Iniative for Learning through Integrated Technology Education (LITE) at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) is the result of a four-year initiative in Elementary School Technology Education (ESTE). The mission of the Center is to improve learning and teaching through integrated technological studies. To achieve this mission, the Center for LITE established five broad goals that define its scope:

* Promote technological studies in every elementary school. Conduct research into learning and teaching related to technological studies in the elementary classroom.

Develop curriculum and instructional materials to support integrated learning.

Provide professional enhancement for educators.

Facilitate collaboration and networking among stakeholders in elementary education.

Rationale for the Development of a Center

Technology as a subject is established in elementary schools throughout much of the world including England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Japan, and Taiwan, but not in the United States. Indeed, the United States is lagging behind much of the rest of the industrialized world. We are facing a double challenge in that 1) limited resource materials for technological studies are available in the U.S., and 2) teachers are not prepared to incorporate technology into the elementary curriculum.

Technological studies in the elementary school promote an interdisciplinary learning environment. They enriche all aspects of a student's educational experience from science to the humanities. It helps students to understand and apply formulas learned in mathematics, and principles studied in science. Technological studies also address the important question of "Why do I need to learn this?" Technology is inherently linked to mathematics and science, and is viewed as essential in preparing the engineers, architects, and scientists of the future.

Technological studies must be a continuous thread in children's education from elementary school through high school. Technological literacy cannot be accomplished through an ad hoc approach, or through a single course at the middle school level, any more than mathematical or language literacy could be achieved in a single course. Technological studies must be delivered through a well-planned and designed program throughout a child's school career.

Typically, elementary students learn the content of the core disciplines, including technology, from the regular elementary teacher. It is important that all elementary teachers, then, be prepared with specific pre-service experiences to be qualified to teach technological studies as an essential part of the elementary school curriculum.

Research has demonstrated the benefits of technological studies to children. Technology education has been shown to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It is also known to increase motivation and time-on-task for the majority of children. Yet much remains to be learned about this new field of study.

The University of Missouri has become a recognized leader in elementary school technology education in the United States through research, teacher enhancement efforts, demonstration projects, and curriculum development. The development of this ESTE initiative is appropriate at this time because the MU College of Education has spent the past four years developing a new undergraduate teacher education program that emphasizes, among other things, integration and authentic, contextual learning. In addition, Dean Richard Andrews of the College of Education has placed a high priority on enhancing technology and elementary education.

Scope of Work

Our purpose is to enhance learning at all levels of K-12 schooling through research, development, and teaching in contextual, hands-on technological explorations. We think of "technology" (techne ology) as the study of processes and techniques; how humans design, build, and control the world around them. …

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