“Using Technology to Support Research Groups in the Early Childhood Classroom”
Applying technology in the classroom can truly enrich the quality of education teachers provide their students. Whether it be in preschool or in 12th grade or even in college, technology can be incorporated into teachers’ lessons to augment students’ capacities to learn. The ways in which technology can be integrated in a classroom setting depends on many factors such as the students’ needs and interests, the teacher’s pedagogy, the resources a school provides, etc.
Distributed Cognition Theory is very helpful for understanding how students interact with the environment and the tools they are provided in the classroom. Gwyn Brickell, Michael Morgan, and Barry Harper discuss how, “distributed cognition is a way to understand how people interact with their environment and how they can be enabled by the environment to undertake highly complex tasks that would usually be beyond the abilities of the unassisted individual.” (Morgan et al. 127). Essentially, children can be empowered by the environment around them to take on complex tasks that would not otherwise be provided without such interactions. This means that students can enhance their learning and knowledge by using internal and physical tools/resources in the classroom.
I watched a video from YouTube titled, “Using Technology to Support Research Groups in the Early Childhood Classroom” which specifically focused on the integration of technology into a preschool classroom setting. The video went into greater discussion about using technology to supplement research on topics the students were learning about in class. The teacher provided her students with a variety of topics to work with each week. Since they were only preschoolers, they worked with simple topics such as dogs, cats, or alligators. The students would learn about these topics, using books and information from the teacher as a resource. Then they would work in small research groups using iPads to explore the topics on a deeper level. Students would look at pictures on the iPads or take pictures of their own and create stories from what they saw. This research was guided by the instructor and allowed them to see things from a new perspective.
This lesson is a great example of translation which Martin says, “refers to the transformation of information from one representation system to another” (93). The teacher emphasized how books are equally as useful as the iPad— one is not better than the other. They work best together to provide students with a well-rounded and enriching experience. A book might provide students with some information that technology cannot and vice versa. The hope is that technology affords the opportunity to enhance the learning process by providing additional learning for the students. This displays how the information she was teaching translated from one tool to another for the representation of ideas. First she had the children learn about their topics from books, and then she had the information translated to the iPads. This is also an example of off-loading. The teacher provided additional resources to help students reach their main goal, which is to research and learn about their topics on a deeper level. Off-loading allowed the students to do so through more than just a book.
Effects of and effects with technology were clearly present in this video. According to Salomon, “effects of technology is how using a technology may leave cognitive residues that enhance performance even without technology” (Salomon 72). The effects of learning with technology from this lesson allowed students to build on previous knowledge so that they could take it to the outside world. The teacher decided to pick topics that the students were interested in such as dogs, cats, etc. and build on their knowledge through further exploration. To do so, she put her students in different research groups based on interest and gave them days to look up information about their topics in books. The students seemed to enjoy this research, so she decided to enhance their knowledge through technology. She began to introduce the iPads for additional research of their topics. The effects of technology in this case were that students had a variety of ways to research information and gain a deeper understanding about their topics. Students were able to take this information and the skills they learned from this lesson with them.
The effects with technology deals moreso with how technology augments their intellectual performance. Students were provided with a variety of tools such as a pencil, paper, a clipboard, books, and iPads to use as resources for their research. These tools helped enhance what they already knew about the topic. The teacher emphasized how research means using a variety of sources to find information, and that is what the students were doing here— students were able to see how they could use multiple different tools such as a book or an iPad to find information. With technology, students deepened their learning and developed skills for how to do research.
Throughout the lesson, the teacher was guiding the students’ research and formatively assessing their performance in the research groups to check for understanding. Then at the end of the week, the teacher would have the students share what they learned with the rest of the class as a way to assess what they learned and let them demonstrate their knowledge. This helped the teacher see the clear effects of and with technology from the lesson.
With the integration of technology in this lesson, I believe that it truly made the students smarter. By using technology to supplement their learning, the students were able to go beyond what they would have learned simply through a book. Students had the opportunity to learn about their topics from a different platform, which provided more information than what they would have found just in the book. The iPads overall helped increase the students’ cognitive abilities. It was clear through the video that working with the technology provided the opportunity to enhance the students’ knowledge.