“Learning is inherently a social, dialogical process” (Finger, Russel, Jamieson-Proctor & Russell, 2007). Let’s consider what makes an effective ICT learning experience.  How best can we promote students social skills whilst developing their knowledge and understanding?

Note: To make a new comment, write in the ‘reply’ box under the comments, however to reply to a specific comment, click the ‘reply’ button at the top of that post, which will open a new dialog box under that comment.

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Finger, G., Russell, G., Jamieson-Proctor, R., & Russell, N. (2007).  Transforming Learning with ICT: Making it Happen. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia.


30 responses to “Discussion

  1. Hi, I think one of the challenges with using ICT in a classroom is the lack of education of some teachers who use it as a substitute for child centred learning. By simply placing a child in front of a computer and getting them to complete activities is not teaching any skills, least of all social skills. However with an interactive teacher, the collaborative skills that can be utilised through ICT are endless. Students can compete with and against each other on games/ tasks; email/ respond to comments; collaborate on group challenges; discuss tasks and post thoughts via student blogs. All of these ICT based activities promote social skills, and with constant interact and scaffolding by the teacher, develop students knowledge and understanding.
    Thank Jodie

    • katereidedc3100

      Hi Jodi, I think you have hit on a really important point here, perhaps in classrooms like you describe the C for ‘Communication’ in ICT has been forgotten about? It is important, particularly in the Early Years of schooling for students to learn these vital communication skills; these are skills that will equip them for life, as well as on their educational journey. I would love to hear from our experts who use ICT in the classroom, what are the effects of pointing a young student in the direction of a screen and saying, ‘Go for it?’ How can we improve teacher pedagogy, should it be the responsibility of the school, or the individual to ensure the way they use ICT is most beneficial to the student?

      • Hi Everyone,

        Kate, I went on Professional Experience last year in a 3-5 years setting where one computer was available for the students to use. Before morning tea the children had “activity time”, this time was a time where children were provided with a variety of “table” activities to participate in. Each morning *Child A would arrive at Pre School sign in with Dad, kiss Dad good bye and wait for the computer. The computer was such a hit with the children that despite all the other activities provided there was always preference and a wait for the computer. *Child A would let the teacher know he was at preschool and each morning he would get a turn (ten minutes) on the computer. *Child A spent the remaining 80 minutes of “table time” “not engaging” in other activities but participating in other activities due to “force” by the teacher.

        I after the second day of observing *Child A’s behaviour thought poor *Child A just loves those games on the computer how can I make the other 80 minutes of “table time” stimulating for him? In the end I decided to speak to *Child A about the computer games and what interested him about the games. * Child A shared his reasons with me and explained to me in detail why the games were so “awesome”. From this information I was able to create a couple of other “table time” activities for *Child A to engage in. *Child A shared with me how “awesome” these games were and even shared these “awesome” games with his family at home. Needless to say I was overwhelmed with emotion when at the end of my experience “Child A bought me an “awesome” present and a very thoughtful card from his parents that read “You have taught us that it is not the possessions we give *Child A that make his day but the thought and time we spend with these possessions and *Child A that make his day”.

        This whole experience highlighted to me the importance of the “pedagogy” behind the ICT use. I learnt that it is the pedagogy behind the ICT use that make the ICT use so enjoyable and educational not the ICT itself. It is the responsibility of us as teachers to ensure that the use of ICT’s isn’t just about the use but about what children gain from the use (enjoyment and education).

      • katereidedc3100

        Hi Katie,
        So are you saying that it wasn’t the mode of delivery that the student enjoyed, but the activity itself? As Jodi has mentioned, there is a worry that the pedagogical approach to ICTs may be lacking. How can we promote meaningful experiences for students in our classrooms?

    • I think you are right, Jodie. The hardest part will be for teachers to keep up with new developments. Children may learn these skills more easily. I think that for older people, technology is a “second language” whereas for the younger generation, it is part of their “first language”.

      • Hello Jean. I like how you have suggested ICT being a ‘second language’ for older people and it being part of the younger generation’s ‘first language’. Acknowledging how integral ICTs are in our everyday functions, it certainly is a primary way of communicating and interacting with others. Teaching students how to be multi-literate is essential for them to be able to participate in the 21st century. “New families of literacy practices have emerged as a consequence of the digital revolution, and these new literacy experiences demand different pedagogies” (Healy, cited in Campbell & Green, 2006, p191). How can we merge the understanding of language and learning of language with ICTs in a manner which encapsulates the social interactions? Katie Younger – do you integrate literacy lessons with ICTs and what strategies do you use to ensure the collaboration of students’ learning?

        References: Campbell, R., and Green, D. (2006). Literacies and Learners: current perspectives. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia.

    • Hello Everyone,

      Jodi, I agree that using ICT’s to teach skills isn’t always effective. I also agree that interaction amongst students and teachers whilst using ICT’s is what makes ICT’s effective. The key point here is that ICT’s can be a very useful “resource” in teaching; however ICT’s cannot replace the teacher.

      I also would like to address another issue, yes ICT’s are great resources for teachers but do we in this “ICT age” push ICT use on children without linking ICT use to pedagogy? My concern is that some teachers are pressing the use of ICT’s so much that they are forgetting about the pedagogical underpinnings of the lessons they are teaching. Is my concern unwarranted? Or do I make a valid point?

      “Positive impact is more likely when linked to pedagogy. It is believed that specific uses of ICT can have positive effects on student achievement when ICTs are used appropriately to complement a teacher’s existing pedagogical philosophies”. (Trucano 2005)

      In other words, Trucano stresses the importance of teachers using ICT’s “appropriately” linking these ICT’s to pedagogical underpinnings of the content they are teaching. Does Trucano also share my concern?

  2. Hi Jodie, thank you for being the first person to contribute to our Q & A. I have many years experience in child care and I often saw teachers place one chair in front of a computer and telling the watchers (other children) to move away. The one child was left there to click a few buttons. Not productive use of ICTs at all, and certainly no social skills being developed in this situation. But why has this occurred? Lack of teacher training? Or lack of suitable resources within the classroom? You mentioned some methods of communication utilising games or blogs. Have you ever seen this being implemented? If so, what programs were used? How was the classroom layout conductive to positive communication? We have a great panel of experts so lets use them to our full advantage.

  3. Have you looked at the ictmagic site? It is full of resources.

  4. Hi Jean I have indeed looked at the ICT Magic site and even though he is doing a great job sharing these resources if and when I am a teacher I question how will I sort through the wide range of sites / resources available. Firstly, I would have to find a source suitable to my set objectives, age appropriateness and then workout how to use it myself before even introducing it to my class. Is this how you see it? So yes I think great resources do exist but how do we source the best resources that will promote communication / interaction within the classroom? Teachers do have lives outside the classroom too. Should they be expected to spend it searching the internet for resources or should the school provide these?

  5. ICT Magic can you help with this discussion – If I were to go to your site with a specific learning outcome in mind how can I filter and refine my search to meet the individual needs of my class? When selecting a learning program to enhance interaction and communication what should I be looking for?

  6. I am very aware of the demands on a teacher’s time, and the difficulties of preparing for each day, so as to meet the needs of individual children. When you ask “should the school do this” I wonder who is “the school?” I don’t think there is anyone who has this role, at least not in the schools I have had contact with. Maybe this needs to be a collaborative exercise set up by teachers themselves. Are there any teachers who would like to comment on how they are meeting these challenges?

  7. Hello to you all. I certainly agree with what you have all mentioned thus far. Jodie, you have highlighted such a critical aspect of ICTs in learning, particularly promoting the social capabilities of young children. I think what has been mentioned regarding the learning method whereby students are placed in front of the computer and left to their own devices is a form of ‘objectivism’. Vrasidas (2000), states that this more traditional form of learning expects students to ‘achieve objectives and behaviour in the same manner’. In other words, emphasis is on the mode of instruction with the transferral of knowledge from one to another. As this definition suggests, this does not encourage a meaningful interaction by the student, therefore hinders the active interactions and communication skills to be practiced. I think that simply putting students in pairs or small groups when learning with ICT tools is one strategy which will encourage a greater sense of interaction, thereby increasing the opportunities for discussion and collaboration.

    Reference: Vrasidas, C. (2000). Constructivism versus objectivism: Implications for interaction, course design, and evaluation in distance education. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 6(4), 339-362. Retrieved from http://www.cardet.org/vrasidas/pubs/continuum.pdf.

    • Hi everyone, I too agree with you Jody. I feel that there definitely is a lack of communication and scaffolding within the classroom. I had an experience in a prep classroom during my prac placement where my mentor would place the same boy in front of the computer every afternoon without fail. Other students mentioned to the teacher that it wasn’t fair but she seemed to ignore them. The teacher often mentioned to me that this particular student needed scaffolding because he was the most intelligent in the class and he was going to achieve in life’s journey.
      I feel that this teacher was totally out of context and seemed to be unaware that there were other children in the class.
      The computer was the only form of ICT within this classroom and did contain some word games. I feel that there is more to early childhood than just computers. As an example of use in the prep room, there could be an introduction of digital cameras, digital videos and the making of comics and learning the usage of camera shots. The list can be endless! Not just placing a child in front of a computer because he is the brightest in the class!

  8. Hi Jean, I would love to know how teachers achieve this? As I know I would struggle with this once working. When I refer to ‘the school’ I refer to systems like ‘Pete’ used by Northern Beaches Christian School http://www.nbcs.nsw.edu.au/our-school/technology this system seems to have the Junior School covered. Not sure exactly how it works, if it is just a base program to which teachers can add onto or if it is a one stop shop covering all curriculum needs with age appropriate learning experiences etc. Anne Knock’s one of our experts is linked with this school so hopefully she can clarify this for us.

  9. Alicia Stephens

    I believe it would be fair to say that effective ICT teaching based around making good use of the ICT materials provided to:
    • Engage and enthuse students.
    • Raise achievement;
    • Enable understanding;
    • Foster improved communication with the online world.
    • Teach children about the risks involved with being on the internet, and;
    • Teach children how to be cyber safe.
    Another point I would like to bring up is that, teachers will need to possibly participate in up-to-date professional development courses, so that they are able to stay one step ahead of their students. It seems today that children are able to use the technology (e.g. iPads) without much assistance at all. However, that might just be an observation of my experiences.

  10. Hello, just a thought as I read through the posts. I’m sure you have all seen Sugata Mitra’s TED talk – Child-driven Education (http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html). One of the things I love about it is children sharing a computer working together. The whole concept of one-to-one reinforces ICT as a solo activity, when the social elements of sharing and working together are so important.

    With regard to PETE – Primary Education Through E-learning – is our portal for learning in the primary years. It is essential that teachers are equipped to upload their programs within the learning management system. At our school weekly in-house teacher PD has been essential to the embedding of ICT. PETE is a critical element of the teaching and learning.

    I have a couple of meetings now, but will check back in at 3pm (EST)

    • katereidedc3100

      Hi Anne, and thank you for posting this video, it really highlights children as capable and competent learners and the social nature of learning,views which are heavily promoted in Early Childhood education, but I believe are appropriate for all ages. We as a group recognize the social nature of learning, and really want to understand how we can utilize ICTs to promote collaboration and a sense of excitement about learning, like the video shows.

  11. Hi Anne, I am glad you shared that link. I was aware of TED Ed http://ed.ted.com/ but I had not yet gone any further into what TED was really about. I am learning it is not really up to the program or resource to be interactive as such, it is the classroom environment and teaching strategies that allow for and promote interaction that is the key. Therefore it is up to me to change how I use ICT’s in the classroom if social skills are to be improved. Ted Ed is about utilising the best sections of lessons and compacting them into usable snippets and therefore I believe a very useful resource. But are some resources more suitable than others? That video was simply amazing and truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    • I think we have highlighted several issues in the discussion so far. Firstly, that it will take time and good time management to select the most appropriate resources, and this is probably best done in a collaborative fashion. Secondly, there are dangers as well as advantages, for students. The use of any of these devices mentioned can be isolative rather than social, if used unwisely. One of the warning signs in my field of work is the tendency of students who are either depressed, developing other mental disorders, being bullied or in some other way traumatized, to become socially isolated.Especially with older children, they may become addicted to the internet or use social media inappropriately. The problem is that this decline into social isolation is often not detected until too late. While this may not be such a problem in the early childhood age group, we are looking at patterns of activity which are emerging and developing. I believe that education is preparing students for life. While it is tempting to use what is currently available to provide stimulation and enjoyment, I believe we also need to look to the future, and the possible consequences of our present practices. Everything new is not necessarily progress.

      • So Jean are you saying that perhaps over use of ICT’s can have negative long term effects on children’s social development? I thought perhaps I was just a bit of a hippy at heart but I believe there must be a balance between face to face interactions and computer time reached but how are teachers to know what is happening at home in relation to screen time. A child could be watching hours or TV before school. Then hours of computer time in the evening therefore lacking true social interaction with family and friends. As you say everything new is not necessarily progress. I worry when I hear people say ‘if a child hates reading give him a computer to make it fun and he will like reading’. But what if that child’s parents never read to them when they were young and therefore they never developed a link between reading and social interaction. Why jump straight to ICT’s to make reading fun and engaging. Why can’t a sensitive passionate teacher achieve the same interest as a computer? Will classrooms of the future even teach handwriting or simply teach keyboard. Jean what advice would you give to student teachers regarding such a serious issue? Karen

  12. Jean, you’ve touched on a very interesting topic of addiction and social isolation as a result of technology use. Personally, I know of at least a dozen people who are addicted to their Facebook and Twitter accounts- checking their tweets and updating status’ constantly. I once realised a friend was at a house warming I had attended by seeing her Facebook status the next day, Puzzled I called to see why I hadn’t seen her and she explained that she was at the party “but stayed in the lounge” so she could “text on her phone”. This was a women in her late 20’s, who like many of us grew up with far less technology around than the youth of today. It therefore stands to reason that it is a Teachers professional as well as moral obligation to ensure students are socially engaged during ICT use within the classroom.

    • Jodie, I too know lots of people like your friend. I wonder if they can tell the difference between real social interaction and the virtual relationships of social media. I rarely use facebook now, because I don’t really need to know who is “feeling tired and getting a coffee.” I have been thinking about how we can make technology a safer and more positive experience. I think that there are a number of “social skills” which are not usually included in teaching on this subject, but are more necessary than ever in the 21st century.
      Firstly, we need to learn appropriate self-disclosure. I am not just referring to safety in chat rooms, which is being taught to children now. What I mean is that self-disclosure needs to be appropriate for the level of intimacy of a particular relationship – high with family and close friends, low with casual acquaintances. Telling everyone you are getting a coffee is like running around the neighbourhood in your pyjamas.
      Secondly, in face-to-face relationships, we learn how to read non-verbal communication- the small nuances of facial expression etc. Research has shown that babies of depressed mothers responded to “something” that was not observable to others until the video of the interaction was examined frame by frame, and micro expressions of emotions of sadness, and even rejection, could be observed. We grow and develop our abilities to read these cues when we are exposed to them. In contrast, many ICT resources use cartoon figures which do not give a very good representation of facial expression beyond the most basic level. We need to make sure that there is enough exposure to real social situations, and practice in understanding the non-verbal expression involved.
      Thirdly, we need to teach children to discern the truthfulness or validity of what is presented. There is a huge power to change attitudes and opinions by what is presented, especially by people who are believed to be experts. If the general population had more of this discernment, the whole advertising industry would probably collapse, as it depends on presenting certain information by a person who will be judged as trustworthy and knowledgeable by the viewing audience.
      Whose job is the teaching of social skills such as these? Good parents and good teachers probably do this, but in a world of decreasing time and increasing demands upon it, these skills are being lost. In our child mental health services, the teaching of social skills was a significant part, as the lack of appropriate social skills was a precurser to many emotional and behavioural problems. As education changes from the imparting of information, to the learning of how to obtain information and use it to think with, skills such as these are crucial. There was an assumption that the classroom teacher was a trustworthy source. That assumption cannot necessarily be made with sources such as the internet.

  13. kazz74 – In response to wether or not I’ve seen programs implemented and which programs these include. I have unfortunately not seen them in use. I too have a history in Early Childhood, and have always faced the “lack of resources” problem. It can become frustrating as an Educator, who is eager to incorporate ICT’s into lessons, without sufficient equipment. However I currently teach a Preschool class and have taken to including my personal laptop (for the whole class to view from 😦 .. ) and internet into our lessons, as I believe any technological teaching and ICT integration is worthwhile, especially in the Early Years.

  14. Jodie, I thought that would be the case that teachers would end up calling on their own resources just as we often buy the pencils for drawing. As I am yet to undertake practical placement within a school environment this is what I am questioning. Is there a computer lab and Prep students get an hour per week or is there one computer per classroom or do students simply access computers via the library? I suppose each school is different. But as the Australian Curriculum strongly advocates the need for students to investigate, communicate and create with ICT’s then surely the Queensland government provides all schools with standard ICT resources so that teachers can plan quality social interactions around the use of ICT’s. Do schools have standard resources or is each school different? I suppose I should buy a laptop just in case. Karen

  15. Computers and other ICT have a valuable place within the education system, and with this technology savvy world children should have access of computers etc at school. I agree with what has been mentioned computers can play an important part, however need to be correctly implemented and not viewed as an easy way to entertain the children. Computers are also only one aspect of ICT, I believe that it is also important to connect ICT to a childs real world, making the learning more valuable.

  16. As a mother of three and a home educator I am very aware of screen time taking away social or world interaction and as a result I limit all use of it to necessity, with television hours being about 3 hours a week, and computer time the same and I will tell you why. My children use one site for phonics and reading skills, and another for Maths, which is just an extension of their book work. Of course there are games attached to each site and this extra time or reward is given after lessons are completed. I am always present to help when they are on the computer otherwise they will just keep going and click click click nothing has been learnt they just move through it all as quickly as possible to get to the games. I would not know this, if I moved away from the screen and my children often sit together and discuss each others activities, get excited and then very upset when I say time is up. Than trying to speak to a child while engrossed in a screen activity is almost impossible, as they will just not look away unless you are right beside them to gain there attention, so how can one teach/talk and know that it is being heard?

    I do feel that it is entrancing, pulling the child into a false world which is over stimulating, making necessary pencil paper work seem more of a chore than what it really is. I am sure there are children out there that can text faster than write a legible note to a friend, which could be passed with a smile. Are we teaching children and raising a bar that every thing must be bright and colourful, attractive, animated, musical and fun and in a neat little package called a screen to be relevant?

    You only have to go to the shops and look around everyone is looking down at their phones, where is our social awareness with other people going? Now if a teacher can play an already pre-planned lesson from a resource site on any and all subjects, why would they bother setting up a concrete material based lesson which takes time and creates ‘mess’? Is it possible that really good teaching skills might be lost and we will be left with a generation of children who struggle emotionally to connect with a ‘real world’.

    I do think that technology has it’s place but as always for a purpose within a range of other modes of information delivery. Children in this age group are at their most imaginative, physically active and emotionally aware do we really want to be heavily incorporating technology on a day to day basis that can be readily learnt as an older student just as effectively without any prior knowledge?

    I say good luck to mass educators on balancing the ever expanding curriculum, class sizes and maze of learning ranges in a class. As with all things in life some children will benefit, others will not, some teachers will embrace everything in their stride successfully and others will do the bare minimum to get paid. Some parents will pick up on this others will let is slide and than of course there is the future.

  17. Thank you to all of you who participated in our discussion today. Already we have touched on many aspects on the integration of ICTs and the impact it has on social development. Some key points of discussion included:
    • Professional development/preparation (or lack of) for Educators on implementing ICTs
    • Importance of ‘communication’ in using ICTs
    • Should pedagogy be educator’s responsibility
    or whole-school?
    • What should the pedagogy of ICTs look like?
    • Ineffective implementation of ICTs – not encouraging social interactions such as discussion or collaboration.
    • Various ways in which ICTs improve learners’ skills and understanding.
    • Anne Knock shared a fantastic resource – thank you http://www.ted.com/talks/​sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_e​ducation.html
    • The management and selection process of effective ICT resources.

    Please join us to further explore these in the coming days. Don’t forget to ask our Panel of Experts questions, they are here to share their knowledge and valuable experiences with us.

  18. Hi everyone!

    I am excited to see that this discussion has led to what is great pedagogical practice and student-centered learning. As Jodie, Katie and several others pointed out I think we should worry about how ICT is used with children. One worry I have is that children are often exposed to technology for long periods which is not healthy physically. I prefer portable technology for this reason or limiting activities on the computer. To make a lesson more engaging, I like to integrate various hands-on activities with activities performed with technology. For example, when my 4 to 6 year-olds created digital stories, they created storyboards and drawings. I used these print formats, http://technology4kids.pbworks.com/w/page/24460567/DigitalStorytelling#DownloadtheHandOutsfromthePresentation. Then we scanned their drawings and colorings and added them to the story. Another example is using mobile devices to play an I Spy game. Students walk around the building or outside (to get them moving out of their seats) and take a picture that fits a theme or topic. They then exchange the devices with another student and guess what the picture is. I think when using ICTs we need to still try to include activities where there is movement, creativity, and the incorporation of authentic materials. You might find this flowchart of how to integrate technology effectively useful, http://www.edtech-hub.com/resources/techteachchecklist.html

  19. Michelle Teakle

    Hi All, this is an informative site and I have gotten a lot from it. When I was on prac I the children in the class were learning how to use a program on the computers in the computer lab. They were social in that they shared with each other the information they had found. They were collaborative in that they helped each other. They were explorers in pressing buttons to see what happens. The computers in the classrooms were more vulnerable and a different story because if the children pressed the wrong button they lost what they were doing. Some children in that class have asked to go back to paper and pencil, downtime from computer based lessons. Next year will be interesting as the school is asking the parents to purchase a tablet for their child instead of text books.

    Michelle Teakle

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