Technology is changing the availability of materials and resources for creative thinking, play, and the arts. Teachers today use various technologies such as educational DVDs and videos, online encyclopedias, computers, calculators, digital sound, and the Internet to promote creative thought and to integrate play and the arts across disciplines.
Research shows that creativity in children is significantly diminished in those who participate in drill-and-practice for as little as forty five minutes per week. All adults who work with children need to know how to choose and use technology elements that facilitate the student’s creative and artistic expression.
Good Technology versus Bad
Certain design features promote children’s imaginative and playful experiences more than others. For example, when selecting an educational DVD, it is important to choose those that:
o Have a simple design but with some options
o Include clear instructions that require minimal adult involvement
o Provide easy access to the content
Technology that meets student’s needs and interests and also enhances their creative thought and expression, in turn, allows them to:
o Explore, create, and control their symbolic world
o Apply a range of abilities and skills
o Enhance their social interactions
o Participate in problem solving and inquiry learning
However, as educators, our primary responsibility regarding technology materials is to ensure that they are used as only one of many powerful learning tools for all children. No matter the medium, whether a video game or educational DVDs, we must:
o Provide technology elements that are:
– individually appropriate
– culturally sensitive
– free from stereotypes and violence
o Equal access to computer use for all children.
Criteria for Selection
When selecting educational DVDs, websites, software, or any other technology element, the following list of criteria should be considered. Try to always select elements that:
o Enhance language skills
o Develop and refine subject-area skills
o Encourage interpersonal and intrapersonal skills
o Promote artistic and creative thought that develops visual-spatial perception
o Provide equal access to children of color, special-needs children, and both genders
In short, although technology is a wonderful thing, how you USE the educational DVDs, software, or website is paramount. In other words, the lesson plan is still the most important part of effective instruction.