As part of the weeklong celebration of educational transformation that occurred throughout the Pittsburgh region called Remake Learning Days, the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent’s College and ISA Learning, Inc. facilitated a conversation about the role of technology in early education.

Let’s Talk: Technology and Young Children was held at the Well facility at Kids + Pediatrics on the evening of Thursday, May 12th and was attended by invited stakeholders with different backgrounds including experts on the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center position statement, pediatricians, EdTech companies, advocates and early educators. The goals of event organizers, Dr. Jordan Lippman, Executive Director of ISA Learning and Ms. Tanya Baronti, Program Manager at the Fred Rogers Center included clarifying terminology and understanding the opportunities and perceived threats of using educational technology with young children.

“For many practitioners who work with young children, there are so many terms, technologies and tools that appear to emerge daily (even hourly!), that it’s hard for anyone to have a principled perspective,” said Dr. Lippman. Creating a common language or vocabulary is critical for establishing an understanding of the issues and best practices.  According to Ms. Baronti it is critical that “the voices and experiences of people who work with children and teachers are included so we can bring some clarity and context to our conversation.”  To build a foundation for the conversation that is continued here, the Let’s Talk event elicited the preconceptions of participants who then worked in small groups to define terms and clarify understandings; as the event came to a close some participants created messages about Technology and Young Children that we recorded.

Attendees began the session by individually responding visually, emotionally, and bodily to the terms they intended on exploring, which included: Educational Technology, Digital Media, Early Education (Early Childhood Development), Interactive Technology, Active Learning, and Deeper Learning. As a group, they discussed and reflected on why these terms evoke these types of responses and reactions. These responses and reactions were recorded on sticky notes and displayed throughout the session.

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Participants worked in small groups to define their understanding of the terms and created simple definitions on chart paper, using these questions as a guide.

  • Do responses have to do with definitions of terms?
  • Are there definitions that are ambiguous?
  • Is it harder to understand these terms as new technology is developed?

Then, using a Round Robin process, groups travelled to the posters created by other groups, and they edited each of the terms and discussed them further. Then, the larger group was asked: Did we come to a consensus on terminology? Why or why not?

Lastly, each small group designated a representative to create a response that would communicate their ‘biggest’ tip about using digital media and technology for caregivers, teachers, parents, and other professionals who work with young children.

What terms to do you struggle to define across education and technology? What other challenges do you face when discussing new technology with other educators? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #TechTalkPGH  and by connecting with @TeamISAPgh, @FredRogersCtr, and @RemakeLearning.

In this exciting multi-part blog series, we will continue to explore and unpack each of these  terms for deeper understanding, as well as post VLOG reactions and responses from attendees. Check back soon for part two!

About ISA Learning:  ISA Learning™ is a Benefit Corporation that promotes the success of all early learners by teaching them collaborative problem solving skills. We use the power of stories and engineering design challenges to create compelling S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational experiences.

About the Fred Rogers Center: Staying true to the vision of Fred Rogers, we help children grow as confident, competent, and caring human beings. An advocate for the positive potential of technology to support children, families, educators, and caregivers, the Rogers Center enjoys many collaborative relationships with educational institutions, research centers, and community organizations.