With the continuous evolution of technology, this generation of children will be the vehicle that drives innovation and change going forward. If anything has become evident over recent years, particularly with the unexpected intrusion of a global pandemic, digitization and technology are here to stay. In education, the reliance on technology and harnessing the digital sphere proved invaluable in continuing the momentum of young people’s learning on a global scale. While change can sometimes be met with resistance, digitization in education is something that must not only be accepted, but utilized to its full potential. What better place to start than the early years of education?
Introducing digitalization and different forms of technology to children at a young age can have lasting benefits. Particularly with the increasing importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), there’s no denying the impact of increasing exposure to digital means of education. So, let’s explore some of the primary reasons digitization - particularly in early education - should be encouraged by schools.
Digitization promotes collaboration
From a young age, children should be taught the importance of collaboration. Through digital tools, teachers can effectively support their students’ learning in a variety of ways. For example, there are applications that facilitate digital storytelling, such as Book Creator, allowing engaging options for children to communicate their ideas.
Teachers can use these accessible tools to guide young children on their learning journey, using mixed learning styles for greater results. Digitization allows the opportunity for visual cues, taking advantage of sensory learning. Due to more avenues existing for children to strengthen their communication skills, they will be more comfortable collaborating with other students, taking those first steps to become familiar with teamwork.
Play-based learning is reinforced
The importance of play-based learning, particularly in early years, cannot be disregarded. It allows children to explore education independently, stimulating their engagement in more of an unstructured, yet guided, environment. It’s no secret that technology utilizes play in an effective way.
There are many applications and educational games that assist students’ learning. As children are exposed to technology consistently outside of school, it only makes sense to draw from this interest in the classroom, too. Games are more likely to increase intrinsic motivation and allow students to flex their creativity in a dynamic manner.
Social skills are approached from all angles
As young children are still developing their fine motor skills, the introduction of technology can be a great method of utilizing various devices to work collaboratively with others. Of course, children benefit most from communicating and engaging with children in person, but why not take on this area from multiple angles?
Technology has grown to become a ubiquitous communicative tool, so having young children become familiar with it only makes sense. If there are more digital means to collaborate, there are more avenues for children to develop their ability to interact with their peers.
An introduction to student-centered learning
As we have already explored, intrinsic motivation and metacognition are extremely valuable tools in a young person’s academic journey. Various philosophies exist to foster this mindset, such as the Reggio-Emilia approach, or the Montessori method. Such philosophies recognize that children are individuals who are curious and explorative.
With guidance, children should be given the opportunity to steer their own learning, allowing them to discover their own learning styles autonomously. Technology is perfect for this. There are many methods of well-paced, explorative learning that can be delivered in a digital form. Not only this, but children will be grateful to have more paths that they can follow when facilitating their own learning.
Basic academic skills can be strengthened
Technology in the classroom is there to reinforce learning. Multiple applications and platforms are constantly being created for this exact reason. Basic academic skills can be introduced to children, such as counting, recognizing colors, matching shapes, and listening to sounds, with the opportunity for children to go at their own pace and make mistakes in a safe environment. Children with learning difficulties also reap the rewards of technology, as there are now many digital tools that take alternative approaches to support children with specific needs.
More methods to present information
Blackboards were surpassed by whiteboards, and now whiteboards have been surpassed by interactive whiteboards. Universally, schools have recognized the importance of upgrading technologically, so it makes no sense to halt further advancement. If a school is digitalized, there will be more options for information to be presented, either through screen-casting tools, or platforms such as Google Classroom.
While cloud-based classrooms may not be particularly useful for very young children, facilitating an environment where teachers can make use of this software will allow more sophisticated and dynamic techniques to be cultivated. With guidance, children can be introduced to educational materials delivered here, improving fundamental skills, such as literacy or mathematics.
A firmer link between schools and homes
Embracing digitalization means resources and information can be easily accessed from home. If there are certain videos, spelling sheets, tasks revolving around time - whatever could be useful to carry on outside of the classroom - having an efficient, easily accessible digital platform is a great way of transferring information. This way, tasks can be completed without the teacher’s immediate assistance, while simultaneously involving parents in their child’s learning.
Digitalization supports a well-rounded curriculum
If digitization is incorporated into a holistic curriculum, learning and play experiences are heightened. A number of different options are suddenly available for teachers and students to take advantage of, such as virtual classrooms, internet research, and innovative applications. Digital tools, such as soundboards and word processors, act as supportive additions that can truly flesh out the school’s curriculum. Through technology, core subjects can be supplemented effectively.
It assists in school-readiness
Many schools are using digitalization across a range of year groups, so becoming familiar early on will support school readiness. Transitioning to primary school is a big step in itself, let alone having to master an array of new technologies and digital platforms. If children are prepared, having at least been introduced to learning integrated with technological tools, they will have more confidence to master the content in a dynamic fashion.
Technology and digitalization are here to stay
Ultimately, technology and interactive media are here to stay. The young generation lives in a world that is surrounded by digital tools, and they are only going to evolve and become more innovative in the future. Adults and children alike have grown more dependent on digitalization in their personal and professional lives, so it would be beneficial to equip schools with contemporary tools that can assist learning from all angles. While change may seem daunting for some, once the benefits have been recognized, embracing digitalization in early education will lead to stronger learning outcomes.