Although I also see there are cultural differences... here in Sweden I see a much bigger push for digital learning than I do in most of the other English (and non English speaking) countries that I follow with interest.
Don't get me wrong... I think technology has loads to offer and there are great benefits... but I sometimes think that it is being given more status than it should. As a person that was raised in a country (UK) where there are social classes and status that come with these classes I find that I am somewhat of a rebel when it comes to status. Why should someone or something have more status than another? How have they come to get this status? Does everyone/thing deserve this status - or is it well deserved for this singled out person/experience/object?
I am of the opinion that we (as educators) are too quick to elevate digital learning/play - I see it reflected in the number of images and conferences and lectures about this subject and also by the number of, especially Swedish educators, that illuminate their interest and passion in IT in their social media profiles... something that is not done to the same extent in other countries.
So why is Sweden more into promoting IT in preschools than other countries?
is it because we already have a functioning outdoor play and learning relationship - where we go outside every day in all weathers?
Is it because we are not confined to academic learning but have more freedom to explore... so we do not have to fight for the right to play?
Does this give more freedom to explore IT and digital learning?
In Why the Ipad? (a post written in Swedish) the idea of the i-pad robbing time from children is taken up and discussed - the problems of screen time that are often raised in society. It also raises the questions about how do educators that are raised in a time without access to digital tools develop a healthy relationship with them and not create the age old problem of its not good for the children, without fully understanding... just as Elvis, the Beatles etc were bad influences and children should be protected from them!
So maybe, the whole point of this Swedish focus on digital learning is about challenging the status quo... of making a stand for the reality the children live in now... with an openness of what will be in the future...
Part of my digital learning with children has been to help the children navigate this medium... to understand that it can be a great tool to find out information, but also that there is a lot of misinformation - and that we need to check out several sources to get closer to knowing the truth. Also the concept of safety... to talk about why we do not put up just any photo online, or all kinds of information... that they have a choice about what photos we share, online and even on the wall in the preschool. This is something I have discussed several times before about consent when it comes to using images of the children in public spaces... even in their own portfolios. This allowed the children to develop a better sense of why we took photos... and they would often tell me to take specific photos of them in action, or ask to use the camera to take photos themselves.
Digital tools have allowed us to explore projects in new ways... by making films, there was a need to slow down and learn together... how films were made and to create everything we needed to make the films, and also how images could be manipulated to create something new... should we believe everything we see online and in films?
Digital tools became a natural part of our inquiries, just as much as magnifying glasses, paper and pencil, blocks, the great outdoors, museums, the art studio etc etc. Not a separate entity or subject, but simply another tool in our learning toolkit.
Of course in other countries creating more space and time for PLAY and more space for being OUTDOORS are the topics that need to be addressed. Digital learning is not about academics, it is another form of play and exploration is used wisely.
Play and learning, outdoor learning and play, equality and democratic learning and play are still equally important - and all of this should be featured within the digital learning and play, not separately. The exhibition Border Crossing that has been travelling Sweden in the last year also explores these ideas... crossing the border between analogue and digital, between indoors and outdoors, between then, now and yet.... its not learning or play, it is not indoors or outdoors it is not analogue or digital... we need to cross the border and we need to be creating a new space of exploration.
|exploring materials in new ways... using familiar materials in unfamiliar ways... or familiar ways to use unfamiliar materials.|
|digital learning is in the tool kit of the third teacher too... we need to learn how to use it wisely to create spaces of wonder, play and learning that also allows other forms of expression to co-exist.|
|getting the children to take photos, to think about the process... I have a series on this called "Through the Eyes of a child" if you want to find out more.|
|taking the time to look at the images the children took and to think deeply about what they represent to individual children and to the group as a whole... creating democratic learning situations through philosophical dialogues.|
|photos to explore play... the first session the children just explored the light in the dark... but after they saw the photos they made conscious decisions to create light shapes...|
The above film was created by drawing with permanent markers on transparent plastic (laminated plastic through the laminator without paper inside). The children watched the film and decided they needed to make some adjustments... so we made a new film... the interestingthing was watching the child that made the image that could be barely seen in the first film (this child was not keen on drawing, too much sitting still, not enough of this child's favourite kind of play... role-play) - this child then spent the longest at the second session creating a work of art for the film. It was so incredible to see this child make their own decision about what they wanted included in the film... and that if it is meaningful it is worth sitting down to do. The second film can be watched below.
The second film is done with the same kind of plastic, black permanent marker and acrylic paint used in the BACK of the plastic, so the details would still be visible.
A year later another group (one year younger) who had seen these films, decided to use the technique as part of a longer film they made using several different kinds of filming techniques.
Technology, IT, digital tools... are all amazing, and allow us to explore the world in new ways... they are one of the hundred languages... that clearly is expanding all the time with new languages... and we have to be prepared to not just work on the hundred, but to be learn new ones too. If we stick at the hundred languages argument, then we might miss out... maybe its a thousand languages... or more?
Although I do understand that Malaguzzi originally intended not for there to be a fixed 100, but the number simply represented a great MANY ways of learning, playing, exploring, expressing, communicating...
The Story of Trends - don't just do something because it is fashionable, or others are doing it... take the time to reflect on, is it meaningful for your group... can it be adapted to be meaningful, can it inspire me to create something more relevant for where I am
Border Crossing - from analague to digital and back
Överby Preschool visit - digital as a form of sensory experience
Taking photographs with children
More about taking photographs with children
Co-documenters - digital tools really allow children to become co-documenters
Digital Teknik ger fler uttryck (Digital technology allows many ways of expression) Förskolan. This text is in Swedish and from 2012 where it mentions the digital resisitance is coming to a close in the preschool world...