Celebrating Digital Learning Day

Celebrating Digital Learning Day

As we celebrate Digital Learning Day today (www.digitallearningday.org, #DLDay), I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on the on-going debate over the use of technology with young children and share some ways Teachley is integrating physical and digital learning. Here are just three of the many complex reasons people hesitate to use technology with young children.

1) Because adults themselves don’t know how to use it. I’ve often heard “If I’m an adult and don’t understand something, a 7-year-old isn’t going to.” But, young kids surprise us all the time with the things they know. They are naturally inquisitive, exploring and figuring things out all on their own. Last week I got a video from my almost 7-year-old niece. She recorded the video on her new iPad, saved it, and uploaded it to me without ever having been told how. In fact, she taught her parents how to do it. Successfully integrating technology in education requires us to leave our comfort zone to try new things, risk failure, and learn alongside children.

2) Because it’s not the way we picture early childhood. Traditionally, early childhood has been a time to play, explore one’s world, build relationships with others, and develop social/emotional skills. Academic competencies have played a minor role in early childhood education, and the use of technology has been almost non-existent. But, the debate doesn’t have to be play or technology. There are wonderful educational apps and digital books available today for young children. No one (at least I hope not) is suggesting we replace all physical books or blocks with digital ones. The debate should instead be about finding the most effective tools to enhance learning and the right balance between the physical and virtual tools, which leads me to the third reason.

3) Because there is no evidence that it works. Research on the early use of technology date back at least 40 years (remember Logo?), much of which demonstrates the benefits of these tools. We do, however, need more. There has been such a rush to develop “educational” software and apps that we haven’t had time to test it all. That’s why it’s important to understand who is developing software and what role research has played during the development process. Is it based on what we know about how kids learn? Does research show that it’s an effective learning tool? How rigorous was the research?

At Teachley, we value the integration between physical and digital learning. To help enhance the content taught within our digital games, we create classroom activities using physical materials and manipulatives that teachers can incorporate as part of their regular lesson plans. For example, our first app, Addimal Adventure, teaches different strategies for learning addition. Children are able to flexibly choose amongst the strategies while solving addition problems. To help reinforce the Count On strategy taught in the app, we created a classroom Count On lesson using unifix cubes. 

digital-learning-addimalsIn honor of Digital Learning Day, we’re giving away Addimal Adventure and our Count On Lesson for FREE.  

To download Addimal Adventure, go to: bit.ly/addimals.

To download a free copy of Teachley’s Count On Lesson, go to: bit.ly/teachley-countonlesson
For more lessons, join our Pilot Classroom Learning Analytics Program. As a participant, you receive classroom performance reports that identify your students’ progress on the Addimal Adventure app, benchmarks met, skills students are struggling with and more. We also identify which lessons students are ready for and provide you with sample lesson plans.  To join, complete the registration form at bit.ly/TeachleyRegistration

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