Over the last couple of decades, technologies and digital devices have become an essential part of the everyday life of adults and children. These new technologies have changed the way children perceive new information and learn it. Also, it is highly likely that these devices and technologies are going to remain an essential part of the individual’s life in the future, and that is why they are to be integrated into the education process since the early years. This summary presents a recent article that explores the use of iPads (and other tablets) as tools for teaching literacy to 4 and 5-year old children. This source was chosen because it explores a crucial aspect of the integration of new technologies in the education for the young children and the opportunities it provides.
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In the article, Beschorner and Hutchison (2013), note that in the 21st century, children gain access to written language very early due to the use of digital devices. The types and forms of information children access these days differ significantly from those of three and four decades ago. Finally, today the world has digital devices appropriate for children’s use. As a result, not only the perception but also the concept of literacy itself as well as its functions and applications are different for modern children (Beschorner & Hutchison, 2013). As a teaching tool, tablets provide young learners with the opportunities to explore, discover, use imagination, make choices, and see the outcomes of these choices. They can be employed for the development of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in preschoolers.
The study by Beschorner and Hutchison (2013) was based on the introduction of six iPads to a preschool classroom with a selection of applications for speech, creativity, listening, reading, and writing that was expanded weekly. Its primary objective was to explore the suitability of iPads as teaching tools for young learners. The teachers were encouraged to add tablets to versatile activities.
The study proved that iPads with various applications can be used in one-on-one teaching activities (creating a storybook where each student builds and adds their page), group tasks (listening to stories on iPads in small groups), and the whole class assignments (the teacher checking the weather forecast on the iPad and demonstrating it to the class before making a record on the class chart) (Beschorner & Hutchison, 2013).
The study found that the use of iPad applications helped the children to make sense of print as an aspect of literacy (connect icons and symbols on the touchscreen and the functions and applications they represented). Besides, the students were able to engage in writing activities using applications with stamps, stickers, or photographs, digital drawing pad, and assembling letters into words. The authors pointed out the usefulness of the keyboard that enabled all children to write letters and words, including the students who were unable to shape the letters on their own (Beschorner & Hutchison, 2013). Additionally, the tablets promoted cooperation and communication between children as they asked one another how to use certain applications or achieve certain results. Moreover, teachers were able to share the results of the children’s work with parents instantly using an email.
To sum up, iPads with age-appropriate applications for learning proved to be rather useful as teaching tools in preschool classrooms as they helped to organize children better and enabled them to accomplish tasks developing their literacy, collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving.
Beschorner, B. & Hutchison, A. (2013). iPads as a literacy teaching tool in early childhood. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, 1(1), 16-24. Web.