May Day Updates

Wow, Tech for Global Early Childhood Education has really taken flight! I can’t believe it’s already been over a month since I launched it. There have been over 3,850 hits to the site and educators from New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, the U.S. and many other countries have visited these pages! Thanks to everyone who has visited or contributed to the site so far. I hope the website will continue to be shared around the globe. The goal is that through this site, we can all continue to share resources and ideas about using technology as a tool to facilitate global learning, exchange, and collaboration, staring in early childhood.

What’s New? 

There are now a number of funding resources on the Ideas to Action page to help teachers find the money or the hardware to provide their students with the technology needed to enable global learning experiences. There are also new tips about building home-school connections. Some new links have been added to the Culturally Relevant Teaching section on the Why Globalize ECE? page as additional resources to learn about that approach.

A few new projects have also been added to the Current Projects page. If you have others to suggest or update, please let me know! And if you are part of a current project, I would love to add your experience to our Teacher Stories page so other educators can learn from you.

Collaborate and Share Resources with Other Educators! 

If you currently use technology in your classroom and know of specific technology tools for teachers or young children to facilitate global learning and exchange, please share them via this Google Form.

In addition to the Ideas to Action page, I have heard from some educators that a FAQ section would be helpful. To make the questions and answers as helpful and relevant as possible, I want to solicit them from you! What questions do you have or were you asking when you began using technology for global learning? Please use the comment section below to let me know what questions (and answers) would be helpful to teachers who are just starting to use technology in their classrooms to create global learning experiences.

Upcoming Global Events: 

The NAEYC Professional Development Institute (PDI) is quickly approaching and  there will be a number of Technology Sessions as well as a session on Preparing Teachers with a Global Perspective.

If you’re attending ISTE 2012 (I hope to!) in San Diego, then you should check out the Global Education Summit, a follow-up to the virtual Global Education Conference.

Finally, World Savvy has a list of interesting global events for teachers this summer.

Responding to Early Childhood Educators Who Want to Go Global

In order to make this site a responsive and relevant resource for early childhood educators, I conducted an online survey (responses still welcome!) to find out what technologies teachers currently use in their classrooms and at home and what they would like to know about using technology to create global learning experiences.

I sent the survey out via Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as to colleagues I know working in the field of early childhood. I had 23 teachers respond from Canada, Japan, across the U.S., and a few other locations. They teach children between the ages of two and eight and have been teaching for anywhere from one to forty years. They work at a range of public, private, and charter schools and the majority of them self-identified as being very comfortable with using new technologies. While most (19) of them said they are currently using technology in their classrooms only about a third of responders are using technology for global collaboration.

The most common type of tools teachers said they currently use in their classrooms were mobile tools, presentation tools, video and audio tools, and collaboration tools. Of the teachers who are using technology, more than half of them reported receiving no training on the technologies they use, having to teach themselves these tools.

Of the teachers (10) who are using technology for global collaboration, many of them shared innovative and exciting ways of using tech tools to create global learning experiences. For example, teachers reported using Voicethread to discuss books or math problems with a partner class, using Twitter to follow as many as twenty other classrooms around the world to discover similarities and differences in their classrooms, and using Skype for the SkypePlay project where Kindergarteners free play via video chat with another Kindergarten class. The geographic range of connections was also very exciting. Classrooms in Qatar, Japan, UK, China, Indonesia, Argentina, U.S., Australia, and New Zealand are all using technology to connect their students for global learning. You can hear more about some of these projects on the Teacher Stories page of the site.

In the survey, I asked teachers “What type of research or how-to articles would help you use technology more effectively and/or more often?”Responses included:

  • YouTube video examples
  • How-to tutorials
  • Information about overcoming (parent) fear of using social media and tech with young children
  • Information about how to find other language immersion classes
  • How to use specific tools (e.g., Glogster, Symbaloo, Prezi)
  • Sample lesson plans integrating technology
  • Examples of how other teachers are using technology
  • How to build interactive websites
  • How to find teachers to connect/work with around the globe
  • Conceptual articles about why and how to integrate global collaboration via technology into early childhood education
I also asked about the types of tools teachers wanted to learn more about and interestingly, they mirrored the types of tools currently being most used in teacher’s classrooms (i.e., collaboration, mobile, presentation). 

I have worked to include resources to address each of these responses on the website, particularly on the Related References and Global Tools pages. My hope is that the Teacher Stories will also bring some of these projects to life and help demonstrate what projects look like in current classrooms. A few of the responses are issues I hope to cover in more depth as the site grows (e.g., creating a database of ECE teachers looking to collaborate globally).

Responders also had interesting suggestions for what types of projects they would you like to do using technology to connect to other classrooms:

  • Connect with classes to compare and witness different cultures
  • Engage in shared classroom activities: seasonal or thematic
  • Share ideas, experiences, and projects with classes around the globe
  • Writing projects: letters, website creation, pen pals
  • Projects that allow for authentic collaboration & shared learning
  • Projects to share math and science explorations in real-time
  • Transdisciplinary, inquiry-based projects to enrich children’s conceptual understanding

In response to these ideas, I created the Ideas to Action page to help teachers find resources and tips for starting these types of projects. I also tried to find examples of similar projects or project databases, listed on the Current Projects page, to link teachers to so they could find other teachers looking to engage in similar work. 

The last piece of data I gathered from my survey was what type of free professional development would help teachers most. There were four choices and the breakdown of responses were as follows:

  • 17 (74%) – How to network with other teachers at your grade level
  • 8 (35%) – How to network with other teachers around the globe
  • 11 (48%) – How to use digital technologies to collaborate with other
    teachers
  • 9 (39%) – How to use digital technologies to connect your students to other students

I was surprised at how strong of an interest there was in teacher-to-teacher networking and collaboration. I think this is an under-utilized opportunity for global collaboration and I believe deeply that we can all learn a great deal from sharing our pedagogical beliefs and practices around the world. Still, I hope more and more early childhood teachers also begin to express an interest in student-to-student collaboration. In my experience, there often seems to be a view that young children are not capable or ready to use technology to collaborate and connect with other children around the globe but I feel that the global projects currently taking place in early childhood classrooms demonstrate otherwise.

Reblog: The Hundred is There and Now is The Time to Listen

About a month ago, I wrote this post on my own blog to share some reflections about creating this site and my thoughts on why global education and collaboration should be encouraged and supported in early childhood. You can read more about how my background influenced me in creating this website and my views on technology and global learning experiences in early childhood below. I also recommend check out Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood, a post I wrote about the new NAEYC and Fred Rogers Technology Position Statement and its implications for global education.

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
a hundred, always a hundred …
(See the original post for the entire poem)

From The Wonder of Learning Website

No Way. The Hundred is There” has been one of my favorite poems for many years now. Hearing it was one of the things that inspired me to study abroad in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where the author, Loris Malaguzzi, worked with teachers to design a unique approach to early care and educationI truly believe that young children have a hundred languages and “(and a hundred, hundred, hundred more)” to express their ideas and emotions and to interact with the world.

It was really my experiences with educators in Italy and coming to understand the vast capabilities of very young children, including the depth of reflection they can engage in, that pushed me to get a master’s in International Training and Education. This passion for early childhood education, as well as my focus on technology, is what has driven my capstone work, which is the culminating project for my master’s program. I have been designing a website for early childhood educators to use as a resource to learn more about the reasons and ways to create global learning experiences in their classrooms using technology. The site provides information about the fields of  global education, educational technology, and early childhood, as well as specific technology tools that can be used in the classroom.

My hope is that the website will be accessible and easy for teachers to use, providing them with relevant and readable information. To make the site valuable for teachers, I have been conducting an online survey asking early childhood teachers for information about their current practices with technology and about what resources they would like to have to better understand and create global learning experiences. I plan to use their responses when selecting what content to add to the site. For example, one teacher has requested a sample lesson plan so she can get a better sense of what a lesson would look like that incorporates technology to create a global learning experience.

What has been frustrating, is that while I have found some great resources about global education and technology tools for collaboration, there are limited sources available that combine these ideas together. And there are almostnone, that discuss creating global learning experiences with students before they enter Kindergarten. I have been lucky to have access to some amazing examples of global collaboration and exchange by being part of the#kinderchat community on Twitter. These teachers have provided me with some great stories and are fabulous models for global learning in early childhood.

But I’m still left deeply disappointed. If we believe young children can speak hundreds of languages, why do they have to enter formal schooling before they can have opportunities to express all of those languages and to learn others from children around the world? Preschoolers in Reggio Emilia have been valued and respected enough to be entrusted with designing the city’s theater curtain or creating an amusement park for birds in one of the city parks. Yet in most schools in the U.S., we restrict these young children from using technologies like SkypeVoicethread or Twitter to connect, share, learn, and collaborate with other young children around the world. Why?

I’m left with the mantra Malaguzzi used to end his poem “The child says: No Way. The Hundred is there.” The child perseveres, even after teachers, parents, and society try to separate ideas and opportunities for discovery from the child and to dissuade the child from believing. So that it what I too will do, by creating this website and hoping that more early childhood teachers can begin introducing opportunities to children before they reach kindergarten for global collaboration and exchange. If we can support the inclusion of global learning experiences at this early stage in a child’s life, I believe we will open up exciting and inspiring opportunities to learn about multiculturalism, multilingualism, and diversity both with and from these young children.

via The Hundred is There and Now is The Time to Listen.