Technology has proven to play a significant role in enhancing learning in early childhood settings. Technological tools both content-neutral and content-specific have helped in shaping the learning of mathematics in early childhood settings. The strategic usage of technology strengthens both teaching and learning mathematics. The regarded implementation of suitable tools, processes, or techniques that enhance the application of cognitive, senses, and memory to facilitate teaching practices as well as improve learning outcomes of children. With the help of technology, learning outcomes has improved among children. Digital technologies are included in teaching in early childhood settings which have helped transform both learning and teaching. These technologies include YouTube clips, digital microscopes, and simple robotics which can be utilized contemporaneously with other resources like reference books or even direct observation of elements to gain more knowledge. These technologies have enhanced learning in form of digital art programs which have facilitated art drawing among children. Digital storybooks have enhanced the accessibility of storybooks. However, the integration of technology to teach mathematics in the early childhood system has disrupted traditional learning and play (Siemon et al., 2017). Concerns have become intense about the impacts of technology use in teaching on both children and other forms of teaching or learning. Therefore, there are some key issues concerning the use of technology to teach mathematics in early childhood settings that have been identified. This paper will identify key issues concerning the use of technology to teach mathematics in early childhood settings and also analyze five resources that fit as educational tools to aid children’s learning.
Concerns about the disruption of other learning and play activities
There have been concerns that the use of technology in teaching mathematics in early childhood settings may impact children’s cognitive, emotional, learning as well as emotional development. It has been identified that these technologies can have detrimental effects on children’s learning emotional, cognitive, and social development. For instance, in play-based learning, solitary gameplay is found to probably result in children’s isolation from social interaction related to learning and play (Potkonjak et al., 2016). Therefore, responsibility has been directed to the teachers in appraising critical computer games utilized by children so as to determine whether these might integrate or trigger violence. Even though it is said that technology use in teaching has been appropriately planned and incorporated into other activities in an effective manner giving new opportunities for all sorts of social interaction, it disrupts physical play and learning which is fundamental for children’s cognitive development. Children need to interact with the natural environment so as to boost their cognitive development and the use of technology especially in play-based learning hinders children from reaping the benefits of appropriate cognitive development obtained through traditional learning and play.
Concerns about technology displacing other learning and play activities
Concerns have emerged regarding the use of technology in teaching which has displaced other learning and plays activities. It is important to note that technology use in teaching plays a big role in young children’s educational experiences. But, technology should not be used to replace and displace other essential learning and play activities. Technology has proven to be a powerful tool that has significantly transformed learning among children (Tondeur, Van Braak, Ertmer, & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2017). Teaching technologies make a significant contribution to children’s creative play as well as expression through both selective and supported usage of specific software applications, and through the use of various types of technologies. For instance, technologies such as programmable toys, digital games, or walkie-talkies. These technologies are applied either indoors or outdoors for various learning as well as play activities.
These technologies have created convenience and eased play and learning. Consequentially, most teachers have resorted to using these technologies in place of traditional learning and play. Essentially, most other forms of learning have been displaced by these technologies (Tondeur et al., 2017). Therefore, due to the concern of displacement of other important learning and play activities, most early childhood education teachers have emphasized that there is a need thoroughly integrate technologies across the curriculum in an attentive manner which is the best solution to many concerns.
Concerns regarding exposure to harmful contents
The emerging digital technologies have increased children learning opportunities as well as new probable risks. These risks are also accompanied by worries from both teachers and parents that children might be harmed. In the early years of childhood development, these are stages that the skills for children on e-safety need to be developed. This is the period when children are more concentrated on home as well as the family. The key to the development of children at this phase of development is establishing relationships with specific adults (Flewitt, Messer, & Kucirkova, 2015). A fundamental frontal cortex cognitive skill that is not developed at this stage, though develops as individual ages, is the capability to differentiate between reality as well as fantasy and young children are more prone to content such as frightening, highly emotional content, or violent content.
Due to the lack of dire evaluation, impulsive control as well as self-regulation among young children, it is vital that parents and teachers monitor and evaluate their access to online technologies and video games (Chen & Stroup, 1993). Their thirst and interest in technology should be restricted, this should be done based on the content that the children should access, play, watch, and also the time frame they should access these technologies. Essentially, everybody has a role to play to empower children to remain safe as they enjoy learning and playing with new improvised technologies, just like it is the responsibility of everybody to protect and ensure the safety of children within the non-digital world.
Concerns regarding harmful physical effects of technology
Concerns about the harmful physical impacts arising from the use of technology in teaching and learning among children in early childhood settings have emerged. These concerns are mostly associated with the hazards of postural impacts, sight-related effects, sedentary behavior encouragement, repetitive strain injury, obesity, and probable risks of radiation exposure emerging from various technologies such as monitors (Palaiologou, 2016). Limiting the duration that children take on technology such as a computer can assist in avoiding a number of these risks. It is emphasized that general health awareness associated with technology use in teaching in early childhood settings needs to be integrated into children’s learning about ICT and should definitely form part of the health and safety policy.
Concerns about the failure of personal learning
The use of technology in learning and teaching has raised concerns about the failure of personal learning among children. With regards to child-initiated learning, technologies have improved and assisted learning among children. It has made learning easier making it a shortcut for children to learn. However, children end up lacking fundamental concepts that are important in building their competence and their knowledge base (Flewitt et al., 2015). Children lack the ability to learn something in their own practice but are rather assisted by computer-assisted technologies. This creates worries about producing incompetent children who lack basic knowledge but rather depend on technology. Personal learning promotes cognitive development and due to high dependence on technology, there are concerns that it may lead to low levels of cognitive development.
Concerns about teacher technology useability
More concerns have emerged about the ability of teachers to use the technologies appropriately in teaching children in early childhood settings. The technologies used for teaching are highly sophisticated and complex to operate. It requires someone who is knowledgeable and has the skills to operate these technologies appropriately. Most of the teachers have not been trained to use these technologies and therefore lack the fundamental skills to operate the technologies (Hoepfl, 1997). Lacking skills to operate specific technologies, affects their way of teaching and can further result in a poor outcome. There is a need to make sure that teachers are highly trained in order to be compatible and able to operate teaching technologies effectively.
Concern about how children can learn best with technology
Worries are there about how children can learn best with technologies. Some people support that technology enhances learning among children and gives the best learning opportunity to children (Couse & Chen, 2010). On the other hand, some say that technology is a shortcut in learning which makes children skip some fundamental learning concepts. This is because technology assists and makes it easier for children to learn. Due to this, worries have intensified that children might not get to learn to the required levels. The use of technology in teaching and learning has been questioned on its capacity to assist children in learning and consequentially lead to a low outcome in children’s understanding and competency.
|Name of resource: Code Karts|
|Cost: $4 per item|
|Description: It introduces pre-coding to children. Code Karts plays the role of introducing children from 4 years old to pre-coding via a series of logical puzzles portrayed in a raceway manner. It has more than seventy levels, various puzzling obstacles as well as two diverse game modes. Therefore, there is enough educational content for children to enjoy.|
|Justification: This game provides a series of puzzles presented like a raceway which helps children to learn pre-coding. The most interesting thing about this game is that it teaches children the essentials of code while racing. The objective of this application is to utilize direction bricks in getting the race car to get to the finish line. Children are engaged in this game through carefully observing the track in front and logical thinking, whereby children are expected to quickly opt for solutions of greater levels with difficult puzzles and will start absorbing the main aspects of code-based thinking. In our world driven by technology, programming has become more of an essential skill. It is proven that the earlier an individual is introduced to something, the more likely the individual is likely to apprehend it as he or she learns. This also applies to coding. Introduction of coding to children at a tender age, it makes them get ahead of the world of computer technology. Introducing children to technology is done best through Code Karts. This game is fun, very engaging, and educational.|
|Name of resource: The foos|
|Cost: $4 – $12 per item|
|Description: It transform programming into play for children. The foos is an incredible game designed by codeSpark Academy which targets children between the age of 5 and 9 to learn to code programs. This app has introduced more than 30 million children in over two hundred countries to the fundamentals of computer science. It utilizes a patent pending “no words” interface in teaching computer basics programming via various interactive learning activities encompassing game design, games, offline printables, puzzles, and step-by-step creative projects all under evaluation and monitoring by parents.|
|Justification: It introduces computer science as well as programming concepts via a visual coding language through creative play. The foos game enables children to learn fundamental and logical problem solving models. It also facilitates children in designing and coding their own games as well as interactive stories aligned with age apt tools within the create section. The game is word free and therefore compatible for everyone to play anywhere. It is suitable for pre-readers especially children having reading as well as focus-associated challenges. The application can handle three children, it does not collect any private data and does not undertake any advertisement. Flexibility is key in this app as it allows children to cancel the game at any time.|
|Name of resource: Ozobot Bit|
|Description: Is a robot that bridges physical and digital gaming. Ozobot is a miniature robot that links physical and digital gaming. This game is designed to enhance learning, play as well as entertainment whereby Ozobot brings an excitingly new aspect into solitary play in various social settings. This app allows children to play various types of games using one robot. Ozobot app comprises of three different games; OzoPath, OzoLuck as well as OzoDraw. OzoDraw is a drawing game designated to enhance creative play as well as facilitate interaction with the robot. The game needs tiles in assembling in a connected network fashion and the engine of the game shows the player vivid placement option for every move. Ozopath entails several game variants as well as in-game elements like move timers. Ozobot app is highly sophisticated and properly design such that it has extra features including FreeDraw and playgrounds giving children a flexible environment to draw in a freestyle manner by creating tracks as well as mazes for Ozobot’s navigation. It also allows children to begin drawing on a plain canvas using the FreeDraw mode or selecting from several maze backgrounds as a point of starting. The app also has additional features that are meant to test and challenge children. It has a challenge mode combining a simple logic exercise which helps to learn basis operational functions of Ozobot and color codes. With this function, children are challenged to solve every challenge to address the independent logic for Ozobot and move the robot up to the finish line. It allows children to capitalize in the independent behavior of Ozobot by navigating mazes and selecting the lucky outcome. The game entails a collection of many interesting as well as visually unique mazes with a configurable outcome range. With the DoublePlay mode, it enables the winner to play another game to obtain the main prize or achieve another objective. The app is also flexible allowing children to add names and photographs of every outcome. Moreover, it is also accompanied with many preconfigured quick start options for playing games with 8-ball, dice or magic. The objective of the game is populating a 5×5 game board utilizing a random appearing path tiles in a way that the Ozobot is capable of navigating from the starting point to the end. It needs tiles to be gathered in a linked manner showing the player valid placement options for every move. In a single player mode, a child is challenged to accomplish the path and navigate the robot until the end. Playing this game can involve two Ozobots. Every player is granted a home base and they change turns using offensive and defensive methods to navigate the Ozobot to the end. The dual-bot game is featuring two starting tiles and players are tasked with getting the Ozobot to the end line so as to be a winner.|
|Justification: Designed to facilitate learning, play and entertainment. This app introduces children to color codes which is an instinctive high level language enabling children to control the robot as well as its abilities based on color changes. The app has unique playground modes on the plain canvas. The OzoDraw has integrated the challenge mode combining simple logic exercise with learning key functions as well as color codes.|
|Name of resource: Bee Bot|
|Description: It is developed to utilize keypad functionality and helps children in improving their skills in directional language as well as programming. Beebot is strategically designed to be used by young children. It is colorful, friendly and easy to operate robot which a suitable tool for teaching problem solving, sequencing and estimating. It is used for making constructions and colorful designs luring children to place Beebot via the paces. It had directional keys which are utilized for entering up to forty commands sending Beebot right, left, back and forward. Children need to utilize Beebot over and over as they are motivated to more creative and complicated command sequences.|
|Justification: Beebot helps children in improving their skills in directional language as well as programming via 90 degrees turns. Beebot is a top-notch designed robotics teaching program for young children. It serves by introducing children for more complex robotics and also for creatively teaching classroom contents by teachers. Users may feel limited by the length of movements as well as the 90 degrees turns, though children of seven years old and below do not mind. The Beebot actually can be used in extending other learning areas. The maze challenge setting for Beebot is an activity used to challenge children in a way that motivates them in a classroom. Variety of mazes can be created to create motivation among children. Beebot dancing makes children to enjoy and also teaches children about teamwork and enables children to exercise their own creativity. Children can establish an environment which they can use to challenge the Beebot to move around. This helps in boosting their creativity. Beebots are also utilized in covering literacy. It can be used to challenge children to identify every letter spinning revolving on the spot of every letter needed. Beebot can utilize grid patterns in making a great effect. It can be used to teach children problem-solving, sequential thinking as well as planning in a spatial environment. An added advantage is that children can start to learn that robots just work within the given parameters, something they recognize very quickly when the Beebot moves in a different direction from what was anticipated.|
|Name of resource: Blue bot|
|Description: An app that makes algorithms fun and educational. The blue bot is a programmable robot ideal to teach control as well as directional language. It is sturdy and has a small design having clear, bright buttons. To confirm the instructions commanded, it has sounds and flashlights. This robot is utilized for introducing sequencing as well as can be utilized for both collaborative and individual play.|
|Justification: The app is educative since it allows children to write an algorithm in a fun way. Bluebot can be utilized by teachers in teaching children logic as well as sequential thinking. This can be done by handing children a bluebot and letting them determine how it works. Then proceed by challenging them to determine if they can manage to operate it. When they are comfortable, set an obstacle on the ground and make the children to navigate the bluebot through it. Stress on directional movements like right, left, backward and forward etc. Children can develop their own obstacles and also challenge other people. When it moves in a way that the children do not expect, that opportunity should be taken to teach them to determine what went wrong. As the command gets more complicated, note the movements they have taken. Also experiment and measure the differences in the distance that every child has operated the blue bot.|
To sum up, technology has indeed contributed a lot to learning and teaching in early childhood settings. With the help of technology, learning outcomes has improved among children. Concerns have become intense about the impacts of technology use in teaching on both children and other forms of teaching or learning. It has been identified that these technologies can have detrimental effects on children’s learning emotional, cognitive, and social development. It is important to note that technology use in teaching plays a big role in young children’s educational experiences. But, technology should not be used to replace and displace other essential learning and play activities. The emerging digital technologies have increased children learning opportunities as well as new probable risks. These risks are also accompanied by worries from both teachers and parents that children might be harmed. With regards to child-initiated learning, technologies have improved and assisted learning among children. It has made learning easier making it a shortcut for children to learn. All in all, technology promotes teaching and learning, but is also accompanied by some concerns that need to be addressed immediately. To obtain optimum outcomes for children, it is best to address these concerns efficiently.