"Technology has its place but it will not serve to cultivate success."I will cite what I have experienced certainly not scientific but something I am willing to continue researching.
One of our two earlier pilots, I video recorded one set of three-year-old children using the alphabet app with animals. As one child recited each letter and attempted to pronounce animals such as rhinoceros and orangutan, which was quite a feat to be sure, he uttered "I did it" on every attempt. I praised him for his efforts and accomplishments. He went through the whole alphabet and animal pronunciations with pride and perseverance.
In another school, the lead teacher gathered a group together to work on a math app, which was her favorite, the children were fully immersed and engaged. She used the technology for her after school children as a group activity.
She had a child, which she described ADHD, he was five, who rarely participated in any group activity. Two of the children were playing the math app, to her surprise the child joined in and was actively participating once the children showed him how the activities were played.
The teachers comment, she jokingly said, "where can I get one of these tablets, I didn't have to yell at that boy for 15 minutes. I have to constantly watch him". I am going to tell his mother about your tablet."
Obviously, ADHD is a very serious and concerning condition among parents and the health and education community. That said, the integration of technology in this case served as an instance, whereas, a self-guided tool can cultivate some foundational triggers that otherwise would not be stimulated. I would consider that a small success.
Of course, we don't know what these triggers are or why the child was attracted and engaged. What we do know is that his behavior changed, albeit, for a short period of time that was out of the ordinary.
Many years ago, before Facebook, Twitter and Google, an Atlanta neighborhood organization set up a computer purchase program for low income families. We gave them our Pop Math software application, so they would have something on it for any young children in the household since the program focused on adult computer literacy in the black community.
The organization got CNN to do a story about the program. They filmed the setup of the computer in the home and came back a few weeks later for the follow up story.
Although, the story was about access to technology in the African American community the surprise was, they had a little girl struggling with math in school. She was in the 2nd grade and was using our Pop Math software on the computer. Her teacher sent a letter home stating the child's grade went up two grade points in three weeks and wanted to know what they were doing with her.
"what is really needed for success is creating an environment where children can make choices about what they "do" in the classroom. You can start this by listening to what the boys are saying and structuring activities that reflect their interests along with what you know will make a difference in their school success,"
In an era of structured educational settings, Early Learning Development Standards and Common Core can we count on our educational ecosystem to listen to what boys are saying and structure activities to reflect their interest?
A child entering early learning centers today will be exiting in a global economy by college graduation that has self-driving cars, drones that deliver to your doorstep, cryptocurrency that has made the physical dollar obsolete, livable communities on Mars and medical breakthroughs with life expectancy of over 150 years.
These are the articles and discoveries we read daily, just a small subset of innovations being created in our new world economy.
According to labor statistic, half the jobs and labor force of 2018 will not exist or be transformed by 2028. When today's early learners are tomorrows leaders, inventors and orchestrates the next level of world advancement how should we be preparing them?
20 years ago, my first son was on the computer at 3 years old. Today he's writing a screen play making his way into acting and directing. My youngest son who was six months old at the time just tapped on the keys to see what happened. Today, he's studying to be a commercial pilot.
Do I believe technology cultivates success? Absolutely unequivocally without a doubt. I also believe Dupo, Lego's, Lincoln logs and natural play was an equally significant part of their development. In as much, everything we expose our children to must be monitored and proportioned with appropriate measures. Children need diversity in learning, we all gravitate to what we love and that is where we excel. Technology offers far greater options then we can imagine in early learning. The use of algorithms can be used to create individualized learning systems by tracking and adjusting curriculum based on the child inputs. Early detection of developmental concerns can mean the difference between failure and success in future academic pathways.
It's not a fight for a reduction in screen time or more physical play time. It's right learning, whereas the physical world integrates with the digital world. We give our children eye and hearing test for sure, but development is observed and often an inexact science.
Children will always sing, dance and create with physical arts. That said, taking a picture of a beetle bug outside and emailing it to a mother or father wearing glasses with rabbit ears has broad implications for a child's creativity and family fun. Creating a Lego like structure with a 3D printer that the child gets to see manifest before their very eyes will leave them amazed.
Technology today and its application can sense developmental disparities, targeting weak areas throughout a child's development and triggering intervention analysis sooner rather then later. Early detection and prevention can be the answer to many of our social concerns with our youth.
As for Playschool to Prison, taxpayers spend $40,000 per prison inmate and $10,000 per student. The amount obviously varies from state to state to be sure. However, for every $1 spend for incarceration $10 more is spent in the aftermath by families and social agencies who support previously incarcerated citizens of our communities.
Researchers at the University of Washington found the broader economic impact of incarceration is even greater when lost job opportunity, decreased wages, family members exiting high school to work and support families of incarcerated members. And, societies resistance to hire previously jailed citizens equates to $70 billion in lost wages and $230 billion in reduced lifetime income due to incarceration.
Early childhood development and education is the frontline and possibly the last bastion of defense for many children needing an academic and social edge to keep them growing and succeeding.
Technology is not a turn key solution, it's how we apply it to maximize our capabilities to develop deeper learning and access data on which to make more informed decisions.