Mobile Devices and Interactive Technology Bring Benefits to Young Students
If you ever doubted that interactive technology and mobile devices have a place in early learning, prepare to be surprised. Harmony Early Childhood Center, a preschool center serving children ages 3-5 years old in Olathe, Kansas has broken new ground in the use of educational technology.
During the winter and spring of 2014, a pilot involving two Harmony classrooms tested different types of educational technology to identify those that best met learning needs at each grade level. The pilot was so successful that the preschool center is now equipping 27 classrooms with MimioTeach™ interactive whiteboards and the MimioMobile™ application.
"Some might think that mobile technology is too complex to be a learning tool in preschool classrooms," says Dan Winkler, Mimio’s chief technology officer. "But the two teachers involved in Harmony's pilot – early childhood disabilities teachers Kim Buenger and Paige Moran – have proved that the technology can have a big impact. Both of them did amazing things with MimioMobile."
NAEYC endorses use of technology with young children
What is taking place at the Harmony Early Childhood Center may be part of a growing trend to bring interactive technology and mobile devices to the very young. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) endorses digital technologies as “one more outlet for [young children] to demonstrate their creativity and learning.” Their website provides a link to their position statement, “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8.” The site also lists a number of ways in which technology tools and interactive media can be used effectively with preschoolers and kindergarteners. For example:
- Allow children to freely explore touch screens loaded with a wide variety of developmentally appropriate interactive media experiences that are well designed and enhance feelings of success.
- Celebrate children’s accomplishments with digital media displayed on a digital projector or on a classroom Website.
- Incorporate assistive technologies as appropriate for children with special needs and/or developmental delays.
- Record children’s stories about their drawings or their play; make digital audio or video files to document their progress.
Harmony teachers get creative
At the Harmony Early Childhood Center, Kim Buenger created a MimioMobile-enabled preschool lesson that explored transportation. She tried it out with her three-year-old students the day after her initial training with the system. "We sorted transportation by air, land, and water," Buenger explains. She was excited about how well the app and iPads worked in her classroom. Buenger also uses the MimioTeach device for circle time, on a daily basis.
While Buenger had been familiar with Mimio devices from her teaching days in Arizona, Paige Moran was new to the interactive teaching technology. Nevertheless, she also displayed ingenuity in the creation of mobile lessons. One example from Moran's class was a circle time attendance activity in which the class dragged student pictures to the onscreen “school.” Moran also created circle time counting and singing activities via the MimioMobile app and the iPads.
"I visited Buenger's classroom and saw firsthand how she was using our technology with developmentally delayed preschoolers," said Winkler. "With Mimio in 27 more classrooms at Harmony, I’m sure we'll continue seeing impressive ideas and approaches from the center's teachers."
Want more ideas on how to have your students collaborate using educational technology? Check out our Collaborate to the Core Guide, which offers ideas for grades K-12, in a variety of subject areas.
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A special thank-you to Engaging Technologies who first introduced us to the great story about Olathe Public Schools in their blog.