Did you know that it’s very difficult to find good peer reviewed material on educational technology in elementary? Educational technology is not a new concept. In fact, distant learning has been around for many decades. It was first used as an audio/video lecture for external students (students not on campus) at the secondary or post-secondary level. Now it can be used as a stand alone distance learning environment or a blended environment (M. Gosper et al., 2010).
Why has there been no need to try distant education for elementary students?
There can be two reasons for this:
1) People perceive early elementary students as incapable of understanding or accessing technology tools at such a young age
Although this may be true for some students, I believe that the majority of students are capable and eager to use new technology tools. In fact, my 4 year old son starting learning how to operate a mouse and turn on/off the computer at the age of 2.5 years. He now knows how to access YouTube, Netflix and mobile apps on his own. He can then navigate through these sites and find the information he needs. He’s well on his way and able to use technology tools. Same holds true for my second grade students this year. During projects and computer lab time, students will assist each other on using the different technology tools. They will help troubleshoot and introduce new tools they learned at home.
2) Young students aren’t able to guide their own learning
This is a statement than can be both true and false. I think it all depends on what teaching style and pedagogy the teacher uses (just like Dr. Kowch mentioned in class) and the readiness of the student. If the teacher creates an enviroment where students are trained to be independent learners and are motivated to work through learning models on d2l (Desire2Learn), then students can be quite successful at guiding their own learning. In fact, grade 2 and 3 students at Brian’s school are responsible for guiding their own learning. The teachers at his school provide students with a rubric of expecatations and responsibilities for learning and projects. On the otherhand, if students are very young (K-4), they will still need a lot of guidance and support through guiding their own learning. At these ages, children are just starting off with formalized learning and still need that guidance and on-on-one support to figure out what they need to learn and what needs to be learned. Most students may not be ready to take on their learning independently.
With the constant changes and advances in technology, ed tech journals in elementary may be more common than they are now.
Gosper, M., McNeill, M., Phillips, R., Preston, G., Woo, K., & Green, D. (2010). Web-based lecture technologies and learning and teaching: A study of change in four Australian universities. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, Research in Learning Technology, 18(3), 251-263. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/10768.