Master Teacher Chair, Holland Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Today's young children are digital natives and are surrounded by technology. This session seeks to use Vygotsky's sociocultural theory as a framework to integrate technology into the classroom.
Children are growing up in an environment in which everyday technologies and advanced technologies are evolving at a rapid pace. Computers, mobile phones, and other advanced technologies are available in almost every home. To embrace the use of all the technologies that children encounter in everyday life, it is essential that they have a basic understanding of technology. It is our responsibility, as early childhood teachers, to expose children to technology. To exclude technology in early childhood educational environments is negligent. Most teachers and early childhood experts, however, have valid concerns about the overuse of technology with young children, primarily how the use of technology impacts a child’s social development.
Is it possible to use technology in an early childhood classroom in a developmentally appropriate way? What are the implications for social development if a teacher uses technology in the classroom? My presentation seeks to understand the relationship between the developmentally appropriate use technology and social development using Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory. Examining the use of technology in the early childhood classroom through this lens, it will be argued that it is not only possible to incorporate technology into the early childhood classroom in a manner which is not detrimental to young children, but also in a way that can be beneficial to developing young children’s social skills.
Although modern-day technology was not yet invented during the time of Vygotsky’s research it is still possible to examine the relationship between his socio-cultural theory and the use of technology in the early childhood classroom.
As a classroom teacher, I have struggled with how to integrate technology in a developmentally appropriate manner. To not use technology seemed negligent; to overuse technology seemed damaging to children's young brains. I examined the use of technology through the lens of Vygotsky's sociocultural theory. The cultural context of young children is technology. I believe it is my responsibility as a teacher to work with my students within their cultural context. I found that I was able to integrate technology in a way that strengthened my young student's social skills and allowed the children to work within their individual zone of proximal development. Sometimes, I served as the more knowledgeable other, other times, it was another student. I’ve been a classroom teacher for 20+ years. I’m currently in the process of getting my Ph.D. in Curriculum, and hold both a B.S. Family Relations & Child Development and an M.Ed. Early Childhood Education.