Identifying the factors that influence computer use in the early childhood classroom
Abstractomputers have become an increasingly accepted learning tool in the early childhood classroom. Despite initial concerns regarding the effect of computers on children's development, past research has indicated that computer use by young children can support their learning and developmental outcomes (Siraj-Blatchford & Whitebread, 2003; Yelland, 1999). Whilst this has been established, more recent research has begun to focus on the social and educational context in which computers are used in early childhood education (Brooker, 2003; Plowman & Stephen, 2005). An aspect of this focus involves understanding how educators conceive of, and use, computers in early childhood education classrooms. This paper reports the findings from a study aimed at examining twelve Victorian early childhood educators' experiences integrating computers into the early childhood classroom. The paper focuses on the factors the educators saw as influencing computer use in their classrooms. A total of nine factors were identified as important. The top four of these factors were examined in more detail, these being 1) the need for educators to have operational knowledge of the computer; 2) the need to select software appropriate to the children's learning and developmental needs; 3) the need for children and educators to have access to current and reliable technology; and 4) the need to actively consider where (and why) the computer would be located in the classroom.
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