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Ms Using an iPad in Inclusive Preschool Classrooms to Introduce STEM Concepts

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Christa is a preschool teacher in an inclusive mixed-ability classroom and is leading a small group activity with four students. Kolby, a 4-year-old iden-tified with a pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), is sitting beside her as she intro-duces him to a new learning activity with the iPad. His peers wait for their turn on the iPad as she introduces Monkey Math, one of several science, technology, engineering, and mathe-matics (STEM) apps available on the classroom's iPad. Across the hall, Ms. Lena is introducing a new learning activity to her class by using the class-room iPad. In her class, students are learning about engineering through a BridgeBasher app. Students are strate-gically grouped so that each student has the opportunity to lead and learn from others. Ms. Lena is amazed by the students' engagement and success rate as all the students have a variety of abilities when navigating the BridgeBasher app. There are many technology opportuni-ties within a preschooler's daily envi-ronment, such as computers, interac-tive screens at the supermarket, smart phones, and video games. Many pre-school classrooms, however, have only one computer or only have limited access to computers in a computer lab. The disconnect between a child's com-munity and home technology experi-ences versus his or her educational technology experiences can be attrib-uted to several factors, such as lack of teacher preparation coursework (Judge & O'Bannon, 2008), limited research on the efficacy of technology infusion in the preschool environment (Floyd, Canter, Jeffs, & Judge, 2008), or teacher apprehension due to the poten-tial interference with personal relation-ships with young children (Laffey, 2004). Yet, preliminary research shows that, by targeting the youngest learn-ers, student achievement is dramatical-ly improved over the long term when technology is integrated into the class-room (Pentimonti, Zucker, Justice, & Kaderavek, 2010), especially when the teachers and students work together to design and construct learning (Bers, Ponte, Juelich, Viera, & Schenker, 2002). In recent years, the United States has attempted to increase student pro-ficiency in STEM education to boost the number of students entering into these professions (Lacey & Wright, 2009). Policy makers and educators are concerned with recent STEM test scores of U.S. students, who ranked 25th in mathematics and 17th in sci-ence out of 30 countries on the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009; U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, 2012). As of yet, early childhood has not been a focus of the modern push toward integrating all students with STEM curriculum, nor has the infusion of instructional technology been a pri-ority in early childhood settings (Parette, Quesenberry, & Blum, 2010). However, the need to design rich learn-ing environments in early childhood settings that address STEM has never been more important. In order to increase motivation and interest, teachers need to use improved strategies and work with students on STEM concepts at younger ages (Moomaw & Davis, 2010). In fact, Moomaw and Davis found a direct cor-relation between the use of STEM cur-riculum with preschoolers and an increase in collaboration skills, vocabu-lary, and the ability to create and dis-cuss scientific relationships. To that end, we explored how STEM concepts and careers can be presented and
Content may be subject to copyright.
Ms. Christa is a preschool teacher in an
inclusive mixed-ability classroom and
is leading a small group activity with
four students. Kolby, a 4-year-old iden-
tified with a pervasive development
disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-
NOS), is sitting beside her as she intro-
duces him to a new learning activity
with the iPad. His peers wait for their
turn on the iPad as she introduces
Monkey Math, one of several science,
technology, engineering, and mathe-
matics (STEM) apps available on the
classroom’s iPad. Across the hall, Ms.
Lena is introducing a new learning
activity to her class by using the class-
room iPad. In her class, students are
learning about engineering through a
BridgeBasher app. Students are strate-
gically grouped so that each student
has the opportunity to lead and learn
from others. Ms. Lena is amazed by the
students’ engagement and success rate
as all the students have a variety of
abilities when navigating the
BridgeBasher app.
34 COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 45, No. 4, pp. 34-39. Copyright 2013 CEC.
Using an iPad in
Inclusive Preschool
Classrooms to Introduce
STEM Concepts
Sara Aronin and Kim K. Floyd
STEM Education
Aronin:mast-new-41-2.qxd 1/23/2013 2:52 PM Page 34
There are many technology opportuni-
ties within a preschooler’s daily envi-
ronment, such as computers, interac-
tive screens at the supermarket, smart
phones, and video games. Many pre-
school classrooms, however, have only
one computer or only have limited
access to computers in a computer lab.
The disconnect between a child’s com-
munity and home technology experi-
ences versus his or her educational
technology experiences can be attrib-
uted to several factors, such as lack of
teacher preparation coursework (Judge
& O’Bannon, 2008), limited research
on the efficacy of technology infusion
in the preschool environment (Floyd,
Canter, Jeffs, & Judge, 2008), or
teacher apprehension due to the poten-
tial interference with personal relation-
ships with young children (Laffey,
2004). Yet, preliminary research shows
that, by targeting the youngest learn-
ers, student achievement is dramatical-
ly improved over the long term when
technology is integrated into the class-
room (Pentimonti, Zucker, Justice, &
Kaderavek, 2010), especially when the
teachers and students work together to
design and construct learning (Bers,
Ponte, Juelich, Viera, & Schenker,
2002).
In recent years, the United States
has attempted to increase student pro-
ficiency in STEM education to boost
the number of students entering into
these professions (Lacey & Wright,
2009). Policy makers and educators are
concerned with recent STEM test
scores of U.S. students, who ranked
25th in mathematics and 17th in sci-
ence out of 30 countries on the 2007
Trends in International Mathematics
and Science Study (National Center for
Education Statistics, 2009; U.S.
Congress Joint Economic Committee,
2012). As of yet, early childhood has
not been a focus of the modern push
toward integrating all students with
STEM curriculum, nor has the infusion
of instructional technology been a pri-
ority in early childhood settings
(Parette, Quesenberry, & Blum, 2010).
However, the need to design rich learn-
ing environments in early childhood
settings that address STEM has never
been more important.
In order to increase motivation and
interest, teachers need to use improved
strategies and work with students on
STEM concepts at younger ages
(Moomaw & Davis, 2010). In fact,
Moomaw and Davis found a direct cor-
relation between the use of STEM cur-
riculum with preschoolers and an
increase in collaboration skills, vocabu-
lary, and the ability to create and dis-
cuss scientific relationships. To that
end, we explored how STEM concepts
and careers can be presented and
taught in inclusive preschool settings
utilizing an iPad. While in small
mixed-ability groups, preschoolers in
inclusive preschool classrooms were
provided brief instruction with apps
focused on pre-engineering, math, and
science content to interact with the
technology and gain understanding of
STEM concepts and careers.
Selection of iPad and Apps
iPads were chosen because they allow
for flexibility in the location of where
the teaching and learning may occur
due to the portability and plethora of
educational early childhood apps avail-
able at no or low cost. There are sever-
al generations of iPads available and it
is not necessary to use the most cur-
rent one; in fact, older ones can be
purchased for less money and can
often come refurbished with extended
warranties. Additionally, if an iPad is
not an option, other tablet devices
could be utilized. There are countless
opportunities to match children’s pref-
erences, strengths, and needs with
developmentally appropriate apps that
link relationships between the abstract
and everyday technologies relating to
mathematics, science, and engineering.
Four important principles that were
considered when picking out apps for
preschoolers—especially ones with dis-
abilities—were:
1. The student should be the source of
the action to make the outcome
more scientific.
2. The students should be able to see
cause and effect relationships by
changing the beginning action and
seeing how it reflects the outcome.
3. The outcome of changing the vari-
able must be observable to the pre-
schooler.
4. The action and reaction must hap-
pen immediately for the child to see
and make connections between the
cause and effect (DeVries &
Kohlberg, 1990).
TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN MAR/APR 2013 35
Graphic courtesy of THUP Games.
Aronin:mast-new-41-2.qxd 1/23/2013 2:52 PM Page 35
Strategies for App
Implementation
Although you may be eager to incorpo-
rate an iPad or similar tablet into the
preschool classroom, you may have
some apprehension as to its durability
with this age group. Overall, the iPad is
stronger than one might suspect and,
with minimal instructions (i.e., that it
needs to stay on the table and be
passed gently to classmates), durability
should not be a concern; however, you
might want to consider the type of case
you use to protect any technology used
in the classroom from being dropped.
With this primary concern for the
equipment out of the way, it is now
time to focus on the feasibility and effi-
cacy of using the iPad in your class-
room. We recommend a teacher-led
learning station with small groups of
three or four students of mixed-ability
levels as a natural way of presenting
the new technology. However, one of
the keys to success is to brainstorm
ways to introduce the various STEM
apps and discuss what skills are neces-
sary for the students to successfully
navigate and interact with the iPad.
Explicitly teaching students how to use
the iPad includes focusing on the skills
needed to appropriately hold and han-
dle the iPad; determining the appropri-
ate level of applied pressure required
when using it; and demonstrating how
to drag and drop icons or other items,
tap, access different apps from the
bookshelf, and navigate the activities
within the app. For example, some stu-
dents may require hand-over-hand
instruction to manipulate the sliding
transitions and establish correct pres-
sure. Each child should have multiple
opportunities to practice each skill
needed for each app presented and,
therefore, only one app should be
introduced at a time with the main
STEM concept and the function of the
app. Since all of the suggested apps in
this article are play-based (see Table
1), the motivation for the students to
engage and explore should be high,
with the students quickly learning the
games and demonstrating willingness
to jump right into the activities while
learning to wait for their turn with the
iPad.
Making use of the small group for-
mat allows students to have repeated
exposure to STEM concepts and learn
from peers. One strategy for implemen-
tation when introducing the Monkey
Math app, for example, is to have stu-
dents with differing abilities sit on
either side of the teacher. As the differ-
ent level questions arise in the game,
the teacher can then give the iPad to
the student for whom the question is
most appropriate. Additionally, the
teacher can talk through the problem,
allowing for both peer modeling and
listening to “math talk” (Klibanoff,
Levine, Huttenlocher, Vasilyeva, &
Hedges, 2006). Therefore, students are
able to gain confidence and develop a
high comfort level with the iPad, the
concepts presented, and the individual
apps. Another way to use the Monkey
Math app fosters turn-taking because,
after completing several problems (all
of an assorted variety), the student is
awarded with a “sticker” to put into a
virtual aquarium. The choosing of the
sticker and its placement provoked
excitement and conversation in the
groups and signaled that it was the
next student’s turn for independent
play with the app.
When students’ confidence and
independence with the iPad increases,
the opportunity should be taken to
lead discussions and expand the learn-
ing from the apps to the classroom
environment and to careers in various
STEM fields. Even though there may be
a high level of independence with the
36 COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
We recommend a teacher-led learning station with
small groups of three or four students of mixed-ability levels
as a natural way of presenting the new technology.
“One of my favorite quotes is from Carl Sagan, who said it’s suicidal to create a society that
depends on science and technology in which no one knows anything about science and technology—
and that’s the road that we are headed down. . . . You need to generate the scientists and engineers,
starting in school—elementary school, middle school, you have to fund the research that those
scientists go on to do—the fundamental research. You have to generate the engineers
that can turn those scientific breakthroughs into products and services.”
—Sally Ride (in Thomasian, 2011)
Aronin:mast-new-41-2.qxd 1/23/2013 2:52 PM Page 36
students’ ability to interact with the
apps, the teacher should remain at the
learning station while the iPad is in use
to facilitate social interaction, expand
on the skills being taught, and to col-
lect data on student performance. For
example, in one of the apps (Bridge-
Basher) the goal is to create a sturdy
bridge through the use of various tools.
Once the student feels he or she has
created a strong and safe bridge, the
student tests the bridge by dragging
balls onto it to see how many balls it
can hold. Students can then go back
and reinforce their bridge or start again
to try to build the strongest bridge.
Having the teacher at the learning sta-
tion provides an excellent opportunity
for the teacher to ask students “what
if,” “why didn’t that work,” and “what
could you do differently next time?”
Don’t be surprised if, after using the
app, students want more information
about bridges and building. Other
activities such as using blocks or other
materials to build bridges can then be
used in the classroom to build on the
knowledge and experience students
gained through this app. The teacher
can introduce different kinds of bridges
through pictures, short movie clips, or
a discussion of the different bridges on
the playground that may further bring
the iPad app to life for preschoolers. It
is exposure to this kind of spatial
thinking that has been shown to
increase interest and, eventually, entry
into STEM career paths (Uttal et al.,
2012). As a result of student interest in
bridge building from this app, you can
discuss different kinds of jobs in engi-
neering.
Another example of an app that
supports a connection to a potential
career in STEM is the Seasons and
Weather app. A desired outcome of
using the app would be to have the
students generalize the skills of picking
the correct clothing for the season and
weather with the clothes in the dress-
up center. Meanwhile, the teacher can
take the opportunity to talk about
careers in meteorology and how each
student is a scientist when discussing
the weather.
In addition to the iPad apps, stu-
dents should be encouraged to work
TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN MAR/APR 2013 37
Table 1. Recommended Apps for Preschool Classrooms
App Cost* Description
Monkey Math School Sunshine
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/
monkey-math-school-sunshine/id451287325?mt=8
$.99 Interactive games using basic preschool
mathematics concepts including patterns,
counting, basic addition, tracing, and
recognizing numbers.
My First Tangrams HD – A Wood Tangram
Puzzle for Kids
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/
my-first-tangrams-hd-wood/id363843653?mt=8
Lite version: Free
Full version: $1.99
Create your own Tangrams or build one
that exists. Matching of shapes and creating
pictures.
i Learn With Poko: Seasons and Weather!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/
i-learn-poko-seasons-weather!/id420472804?mt=8
Trial version: Free
Full version: $2.99
Includes three games to identify weather
situations and appropriate clothing and
activities.
BridgeBasher
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/
bridgebasher/id324473106?mt=8
$.99 Design your own bridge, then test its strength.
Builder Blocks Preschool
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/
builder-blocks-preschool/id391760918?mt=8
$.99 Use traditional wooden ABC blocks to build
towers. The app can be set to have towers tum-
ble as they would with gravity or set to stack
mode where the blocks won’t fall down.
Build a Robot
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/
build-a-robot/id312706635?mt=8
$1.99 Encourages children to create robots with a
variety of materials.
*All prices are as of 12/10/2012.
When students’ confidence and independence with
the iPad increases, the opportunity should be taken to lead
discussions and expand the learning from the apps to the
classroom environment and to careers in various STEM fields.
Aronin:mast-new-41-2.qxd 1/23/2013 2:52 PM Page 37
with manipulatives relating to the apps
while waiting their turn in the small
group. For example, while students are
playing the tangram app at the iPad
station, students who are waiting for a
turn can be given actual tangrams to
play with. Pairing manipulatives with
the app facilitates the transition of
learning abstract concepts to a more
concrete understanding (Bers et al.,
2002), which may be extremely help-
ful—especially for students with spe-
cial needs. All students in the small
group are then able to make mental
translations of shapes to create pic-
tures. One area the teacher will
observe is whether the students spend
time rotating pieces to fit the picture
and which students quickly find the
shape that is already oriented correctly.
By allowing students to openly
explore the app of their choice, the
learning station utilizes differentiated
instruction to adapt to students’ inter-
ests by content (chosen app), process
(which game or exercise played), and
product (earning a “virtual sticker,”
testing a bridge etc.). As a result, stu-
dents will look forward to their turn at
the center to pick the app and activity.
An additional benefit is that students
with disabilities relating to speech or
expressive language are able to com-
municate complex thought patterns,
knowledge, and interests through use
of the iPad. This is especially true for
students who struggle with answering
“w” questions (e.g., who, what, when,
where, and why). Utilizing the iPad
and its apps gives the students an
additional mode to demonstrate knowl-
edge. The students’ natural curiosity
may also be demonstrated by increased
verbalizations in students with disabili-
ties, which is congruent with the litera-
ture stating how everyday interactions,
when in an area of interest, foster lan-
guage and literacy development
(Conezio & French, 2002).
Support for Learning
By utilizing the apps mentioned in this
article, you may be surprised to note
many unintended outcomes. First, con-
sider how easily several of the apps
align with the Common Core Standards
for preschool. With the increased focus
on accountability at the preschool
level, the alignment between the apps
and the standards provides a fun
avenue in which to collect data.
Additionally, many of the apps directly
align with common preschool goals
38 COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
Using the iPad provides practice and
refinement of skills for students with poor fine motor
skills and it is highly motivating, so students are
more likely to stick with the activity.
Graphic courtesy of THUP Games.
Aronin:mast-new-41-2.qxd 1/23/2013 2:52 PM Page 38
and objectives for students with dis-
abilities and the motivation of playing
with the iPad has been shown to
increase student’s determination and
resolve. For example, using the iPad
provides practice and refinement of
skills for students with poor fine motor
skills and is highly motivating, so stu-
dents are more likely to stick with the
activity. Therefore, the feasibility of
iPad use and the efficacy of teaching
STEM concepts in the preschool envi-
ronment can be beneficial both aca-
demically and to students with specific
areas of need in this age group.
Challenges and Resources
One area of concern when using the
iPad may be the challenge that some
students will face with applying the
correct pressure required to manipulate
the touch screen. A possible solution
for this issue would be to have the stu-
dents interact with the iPad using a
stylus versus their fingertip. However,
using the correct amount of continued
pressure can assist students with their
fine motor development and, for some
students, the motivation to use the
technology may keep them playing
long after they would have normally
stopped.
Another issue of concern is that,
when the iPad is laid flat on the desk,
some students may have difficulty
looking down at the screen. Consider
propping the iPad up with a slant
board or large binder, or purchase a
cover with this feature. Also, if neces-
sary, a ruler could be placed over an
edge of the iPad to help support the
arm of a student who is having trouble
applying pressure to the screen in mul-
tiple places at a time. Additionally, for
students who only have a palmer
grasp, a stylus could be placed in a
tennis ball for additional support and
maneuverability.
Final Thoughts
The researched benefits of utilizing an
iPad in preschool settings are at the
infancy stage of exploration, as is the
examination of introducing STEM con-
cepts in this environment. Therefore, a
merging of these two worlds is quite
timely and important as more and
more students become familiar with
using technology and teachers gain
greater access to it at the same time
that educators and researchers contin-
ue to find ways to improve STEM
instruction throughout all education
levels.
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Sara Aronin (West Virginia CEC), Assistant
Professor; and Kim K. Floyd (West Virginia
CEC), Assistant Professor, Department of
Special Education, West Virginia University,
Morgantown.
Address correspondence concerning this arti-
cle to Sara Aronin, Department of Special
Education, West Virginia University, 508D
Allen Hall, 355 Oakland Street, P.O. Box
6122, Morgantown, WV 26506-6122 (e-mail:
sara.aronin@mail.wvu.edu).
TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 45,
No. 4, pp. 34–39.
Copyright 2013 CEC.
TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN MAR/APR 2013 39
Aronin:mast-new-41-2.qxd 1/23/2013 2:52 PM Page 39
... The results showed a significant improvement in students' English language results after using the iPads. Similarly, Aronin and Kim (2013) conducted a study to examine how integrating iPads as a teaching tool in the learning environment affects students' learning of English. The results showed a positive impact, especially in the early stages. ...
... Accordingly, the study's hypothesis (Digital teaching shows better learning gains than traditional teaching does) was empirically supported. The result of this study is aligned with several previous studies that examined the integration of iPad in the teaching-learning process and its impact on academic achievement (Alsalkhi, 2013;Aronin & Kim, 2013;Haydon et al., 2012;Kiger et al., 2012;Sekiguchi, 2013;Swicegood, 2015). These studies confirmed that using the iPad in teaching and learning can affect student's learning positively, through its ability to enhance their interaction with the subject and content. ...
Article
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This study investigated the effect of using iPad on ICT learning gains and explored students' perception of iPad usage in the ICT teaching-learning process. The study employed a quasi-experimental method using pre-test and post-test design. The study sample (N= 84) were 10th grade students in a private school in Abu Dhabi. They were divided into a control group (n=42) who was taught traditionally via the didactic approach, and an experimental group (n=42) who was taught via iPad classroom model. SPSS was used to analyse the data collected from the ICT achievement-tests. The results showed that participants in both groups obtained similar mean scores in the pre-test at the beginning of the experiment. Meanwhile the results showed significant difference in the ICT achievement post-test between the experimental group and the control group with mean scores of 61.67 and 57.86 respectively. The attained "t" value of both groups' post-test score comparison was found to be significant at p=0.011 (< 0.05). Moreover, the effect size of the intervention was practically important, at Cohen's d = 0.56. Likert Scale Questionnaire was also conducted to see if participants had enjoyed the intervention experience. The findings of the study proved that using iPad in learning ICT has a definite positive effect on the learning gains of 10th grade students compared to the conventional method. The findings revealed that students have positive perceptions of using iPad in the classroom.
... Hasil penelitian ini menunjukkan bahwa permainan tradisional dalam dijadikan materi dan media pada praktik model pembelajaran STEAM. STEAM sebagai sebuah pendekatan atau model pembelajaran Integrasi Permainan Tradisional Dalam Pendidikan STEAM Untuk Anak Usia Dini 104 yang selalu dipandang harus menggunakan teknologi, misalnya penggunaan iPad di ruang kelas (Aronin & Floyd, 2013) atau teknologi canggih lainnya di kelas. Penggunaan teknologi dalam STEAM mengacu pada penerapan pengetahuan ilmiah yang diperoleh anak prasekolah. ...
Book
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Buku ini membahas tentang penggunaan permainan tradisional dalam pembelajaran STEAM di PAUD
... Hasil penelitian ini menunjukkan bahwa permainan tradisional dalam dijadikan materi dan media pada praktik model pembelajaran STEAM. STEAM sebagai sebuah pendekatan atau model pembelajaran Integrasi Permainan Tradisional Dalam Pendidikan STEAM Untuk Anak Usia Dini 104 yang selalu dipandang harus menggunakan teknologi, misalnya penggunaan iPad di ruang kelas (Aronin & Floyd, 2013) atau teknologi canggih lainnya di kelas. Penggunaan teknologi dalam STEAM mengacu pada penerapan pengetahuan ilmiah yang diperoleh anak prasekolah. ...
Book
Buku ini membahas tentang pembelajaran STEAM di PAUD dengan menggunakan permainan tradisional sebagai media dan materinya
... In particular, Fatih project which was put into effect in Turkey in 2012 ensured effective usage of technology at pre-school education and other schools (MEB; 2012); the fact that tablets are movable made them more easily transportable than other electronic education tools as a result of which their usage increased (Aronin & Floyd, 2013). Ozdamli and Tavukcu (2016) point out that when studying Tablet-supported education in different countries is examined, it is a wide field of study. ...
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Accurate usage of tablet etc. devices in growth period is essential in terms of development performance. Tablet usage for education and teaching supports audio-visual memory; however, an examination of the consequences of continued usage reveals serious problems. Technology is essential in terms of communication and reaching information in the life of every individual regardless of their age and period. However, especially for small children, tablet and other technological devices should be used under the surveillance of parents. In terms of development, tablets are used in education in areas such as linguistic, social, cognitive and academic development. However, it is known that using them for long hours has negative impacts on the development of children. In this paper, interviews were held with 10 mothers whose children are going to pre-school institutions. The research used face-to-face interview technique. The purpose of the study is to examine the attitude of mothers as regards usage of tablets by their children. During the interviews with mothers, the “interview form prepared for tablet usage” was used which was prepared by the researcher this form was prepared by the researcher. It consisted of question and answer technique mothers who constituted the study group were interviewed in person and analysis were made according to the obtained answers. Sub-theme was created and analysis were concluded based on these data. Obtained findings show that mothers have both negative and positive attitude as regards tablet usage. They think that tablets are effective in teaching their children important concepts, but are also worried that it can lead to addiction and problems in their relations with peers.
... iPad has built-in features (e.g., camera, microphone, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, iBook, etc.) which are especially useful for STEM learning (Apple, 2018). With the newly developed iPadOS system, learners can operate mul,tasking when learning with the iPad (Apple, 2021); and many researchers found that the use of iPad can improve learners' engagement in science (Aronin & Floyd, 2013;Ward et al., 2013;Wakefield & Smith, 2012;Wallace & Witus, 2013). ...
Thesis
Digital learning resources are commonly employed to support learning in out-of-class contexts, either as a complement to the learning in formal classrooms or as an alternative that can be used by learners to pursue personal learning goals. However, often existing research studies lack a strong conceptual underpinning in terms of pedagogic theory. This study identified a significant gap in the literature concerning children’s use of digital technology to support science learning outside of the classroom. In order to develop a framework for further research in this area, this research adopted a multiple case study design using semi-structured interviews and observations as data collection methods. In particular, seven Year 9 students (13-14 years old) studying at a secondary school in Cambridge, UK were studied. I built a synthesis from theoretical perspectives regarding metacognition, learning motivation, and the experience of using digital technology in out-of-class science learning contexts. This thesis considered the characteristics of digital learning resources available for facilitating self-directed learning of science in out-of-class contexts. A sociocultural framework was followed, and the key findings are summarised as follows: 1) The present research, whilst being generally consistent with previous studies regarding the identification of motivational factors, found that intrinsic motivation (sometimes being overlooked or minimised in earlier work) played an important part in learners’ science learning; 2) user interface (UI), all-in-one features of digital technology, simulation and alternative learning experience were factors that influenced the learning motivation of secondary school-age learners when learning science with digital technology; 3) learners actively chose a number of apps and web-based platforms when engaging in science learning in out-of-class contexts, and they creatively used these tools for curriculum-related activities and satisfying personal interest; 4) a learner’s choice of learning resources was informed by their metacognitive sophistication; 5) Despite the fact that the home has been considered as the most common site where out-of-class learning takes place, this specific context remains relatively under-researched as relatively more attention had been paid to the study of science learning in the contexts of museums and field-trips; the empirical data from the present study suggested that learning in out-of-class contexts (especially at home) played an important role in science learning. The mission of the present research was to provide alternative insights for parents, teachers and researchers to understand digital technology-mediated science learning in out-of-class contexts from the perspective of learners, and inform the design and development of digital technology based on sociocultural theories.
... Science and technology are viewed as closely related subjects, but they are rarely combined in preschools (Aronin and Floyd 2013;Parette, Quesenberry, and Blum 2010). A systematic overview did not find any study on the use of mobile technology in teaching science to preschoolers (Crompton et al. 2016). ...
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Background Although science and technology are viewed as closely related subjects, they are rarely combined in preschools. Purpose This article investigates preschool teachers’ perspectives on integrating digital tools when teaching science, asking how and why they use digital tools, and examining the affordances they experience and obstacles they encounter when incorporating digital tools. Sample Eighteen Swedish preschool teachers volunteered to participate in the study. Design and method Data were collected through group interviews and analyzed using a thematic approach, together with the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework, to obtain a more detailed picture of the teachers’ experiences. Results Most of the participants were positive about using digital tools when teaching children science, and they emphasized the need for training on how to use the tools themselves. The preschool teachers viewed digital tools as good complements to other tools when teaching science and to find information about science facts. Moreover, there were generic reasons for using digital tools, such as to stimulate critical reflections among the children, to document activities and to create stimulating learning environments. However, one group of preschool teachers struggled with integrating digital tools when teaching science. Discussion Digitalization in preschools and the rest of society is developing. The preschool teachers found possibilities and challenges in using digital tools when teaching children science. Still, future studies are needed to investigate how this will develop. In addition to the results, we found that TPACK served as a useful framework for analyzing and discussing our results. Therefore, we recommend TPACK when analyzing and discussing the use of digital tools in future preschool studies.
Chapter
Substantive research investigates the effects and impacts of tablets, in particular iPads, on children's education, but few papers discuss support for teachers in deciding which iPad applications can be integrated into the classroom. Even fewer articles are directed towards application developers. This chapter explores two standards for choosing apps for children - the four-pillar model of Hirsh-Pasek et al. (2015) and the rubric for the evaluations of educational apps for preschool children (REVEAC) by Papadakis, Kalogiannakis, and Zaranis (2017). This chapter draws from two standards for choosing iPad applications for young children in the classroom and through analysis of two applications will propose the REVEAC for educators and developers while also suggesting specific features that developers could consider when targeting children under 5 years old in educational contexts.
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Early childhood (EC) education has usually involved in-person teaching and learning. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed remote teaching on EC practitioners and complicated practicum students’ fieldwork experiences. This study explored EC practicum students’ fieldwork experiences in the U.S. during the pandemic and their preparedness for online teaching and technology employment and integration. Participants included 28 students enrolled in Directed Field Experience in Spring 2021. A mixed-methods approach incorporating multiple sources of data, including reflection papers, interviews, and questionnaires, was used. The findings showed that the EC practicum students changed their perceptions of and attitudes toward a remote field experience course and online teaching with young children over the semester. Additionally, EC practicum students’ challenges and professional and academic growth were evident in their reporting. These findings have implications for the development of effective strategies for alleviating EC practicum students’ challenges, facilitating their professional growth, and providing resources to integrate digital technology in their teaching in developmentally appropriate ways.
Chapter
Thus far, we have focussed on the macro issues of the social, pedagogical, and economic perspectives of STEM discussed in Chap. 2; the impact of digital technologies on children’s learning in Chap. 3; and the role of play and play-based learning in Chap. 4. In this chapter, we turn our attention towards early childhood educators who are largely responsible for ensuring a positive experience of STEM for young children.
Chapter
In this chapter we critique a range of literature related to digital technologies and their impact in the early years of schooling. First, we examine the impact of digital technologies on young children in general, including issues of access and the overall impact of digital technologies. We then turn our attention to a specific focus on tablets, the increasingly prevalent technology used by young children, to: analyse its impact on young children; discuss how pedagogically thoughtful app design can maximise the benefits of tablet use and then address the issue of screen time. In the second section of the chapter, we briefly examine computational thinking and how it can be supported by technology (tablets and robotics).
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This report describes how early childhood preservice teachers appropriate, master, and/or resist learning to use technology in teaching. The data collected were part of a three-year study supported by the National Science Foundation of an entire teacher education program to investigate how preservice teachers (PSTs) become socialized to the role of teaching and how they develop as technology using teachers in a technology-rich teacher education program. The article presents survey data from all the students in the program, focus group and interview data with a cohort of early childhood PSTs, and intensive case studies with two early childhood PSTs with data from their freshman to their senior years. The findings suggest that the pathway to appropriation of technology as a teacher is not uni-dimensional and has a varying set of contributors and constraints.
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The purpose of the present study was to conduct a comprehensive study of book genres used in preschool classrooms. Text titles gathered from the reading logs of 84 preschool teachers were analyzed and coded for genre (narrative, expository, or mixed). Expository or mixed texts were then further examined according to topics covered. Analyses indicated that (a) narrative texts dominated the genre of text being utilized in preschool classroom read-alouds, representing 82.3% of texts read, (b) among the 125 texts identified as expository or mixed genres, the topic of living creatures was the most common focus, and (c) informational texts on the topics of transportation and geography were read very infrequently. These findings suggest that informational texts are seldom read in preschool classrooms and that when children are exposed to them, the topics addressed do not reflect a wide range of information about the social and natural world.
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Employment in professional and related occupations and in service occupations is expected to increase the fastest of all occupations and add the most jobs from 2004 to 2014; office and administrative support occupations are projected to grow about half as fast as all occupations, and production occupations should decline slightly.
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This article presents a constructionist approach to introducing technology, in particular robotics, in the early childhood classroom. The authors demonstrate how this approach is well suited, since the four basic tenets of constructionism have a long-standing tradition in early childhood education: (a) learning by designing meaningful projects to share in the community, (b) using concrete objects to build and explore the world, (c) the identification of powerful ideas that are both personally and epistemologically significant, and (d) the importance of self-reflection as part of the learning process. This article introduces a methodology for teaching preservice teachers to integrate technology in the classroom. It also describes four different experiences in which preservice teachers designed and integrated robotic projects done with LEGO Mindstorms and ROBOLAB to engage their young students in exploring and learning new concepts and ways of thinking.
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Despite the legislative mandate for assistive technology (AT) consideration and the tenacity of researchers, educators, and practitioners to develop more proficient readers at younger ages, cohesive and comprehensive emergent literacy technology planning has not been sufficiently developed for preschool children with disabilities. The purpose of this review is to synthesize information and research on available AT used with young children to promote the development of emergent literacy skills. Following the background discussion, key articles will be summarized, synthesized, and critiqued. Discussion focuses on the lack of empirical research in the combined areas of emergent literacy, AT, and preschool children; the need for conceptualized definitions of AT and emergent literacy across disciplines; existing barriers; and gaps in the research.
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This article reports on a faculty development model that uses a variety of approaches and strategies to help faculty restructure their curricula and effectively model technology integration for their students. A multifaceted model, funded in part by the Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) initiative, was implemented at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The model included training, technical and collegial support, access, and incentives. Questionnaires and qualitative data indicated substantive changes in faculty expectations and assumptions regarding technology as well as increases in faculty and student technology skills and the degree to which faculty members integrate technology into their curricula. The model helped to facilitate the collaborative efforts of a cadre of faculty to model and integrate technology throughout their teacher preparation programs.