Critical Issues in Early Childhood Education

By Nicola Yelland | Go to book overview

14

Curriculum, pedagogies and
practice with ICT in the
information age

Nicola Yelland


Introduction

Information and communication technologies (ICT) have fundamentally changed the ways in which we carry out everyday and academic tasks and in doing so have permeated every aspect of our lives in a myriad of ways. However, even though this is apparent in personal and social lifeworlds from the local to the global, the use of computers in educational contexts is still not fully integrated into learning, despite the infusion of policy and hardware into our schools and the fact that new technologies are an important part of children's lives (CEO, 1999; Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999). In fact there are still those who question government spending on ICT (e.g. Healy, 1999; Alliance for Childhood, 2000; Armstrong and Casement, 2000) in an age in which nothing remains untouched by new technologies.

Twenty years ago there was a vigorous debate about the role of technology in early childhood curriculum (e.g. Barnes and Hill, 1983; Cuffaro, 1984). It was contended that young children should not use computers because the representational medium was too complex for their levels of understanding according to developmental theory (e.g. Piaget, 1953). Additionally, it was also considered that once children were 'hooked' on computers, they would become transfixed by them and the activities inherent to their use and would then cease to play in their 'real-life' environments with three-dimensional materials. It was then suggested that young children's learning and development would be negatively affected by this and that they would become socially inept and isolated.

Certainly current arguments which call for a suspension of funds to support the purchase of computer hardware and software in schools (e.g. Armstrong and Casement, 2000) and a moratorium on the use of computers in American schools (Alliance for Childhood, 2000) receive good media coverage. They are supported by misleading arguments and anecdotal stories of wary parents, like one who 'called upon his school board to eliminate all computer

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