Considering Instructional Appropriateness of Technology Integration into Early Childhood Education
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In a research context, the very nature of how one defines technology and technology integration into an early childhood (EC) classroom takes on different meanings that can complicate the national discussion. In an early childhood education (ECE) context, there are multiple concerns about technology integration that go beyond access and classroom management of student use. McMannis, Nemeth, and Simon (2013) point out that lack of research on technology integration in EC classrooms could be contributing to common misconceptions in the discussions about affordances and translation of theory into practice.
In order to keep with the changing educational landscape of preparing pre-service teachers (PSTs) to effectively integrate technology into classrooms, institutions of higher education have previously required standalone educational technology courses. However, due to changing accreditation requirements or programmatic restructuring, there is migration toward the elimination of the standalone course in favor of technology integration into methods and content courses.
Technology integration in an EC classroom is critical to prepare and provide students with the evolving 21st-century skills that are recommended and essential for operational success in a technology-reliant society. While technology standards for both students and teachers (ISTE Standards, 2008) have been identified, standards for teacher educators who model initial knowledge and application necessary for PSTs to carry out those standards are still in development. Without national standards and with many teacher education programs no longer providing a specific course on technology integration to instruct PSTs on how to navigate working, learning, and teaching in an increasingly connected digital society, the questions then become --- What do PSTs know and believe about ECE technology integration? How well are instructors effectively modeling the knowledge PSTs need? And, if there is no room in programs for a standalone technology integration course, what messages about technology integration are PSTs receiving and how is instructionally appropriate technology integration being modeled by faculty instruction?