This paper reviews the international research evidence on the ways in whichinformation and communication technologies (ICT) are used in both formaland informal pre-school settings. The review addresses the debate over thevalue and desirability of young children using computers and computationaltoys; the relationship of these technologies to a media environment whichencompasses television, video, books and magazines; the literacies involvedin using these media; and interface design and interactivity.
Pre-school, children, literature review, information and communicationtechnologies, media
This paper reviews the international research evidence on the ways in whichinformation and communication technologies (ICT) are used in pre-schoolsettings. ‘Pre-school settings’ in the UK are defined as provision by thepublic, private and voluntary sectors for children up to the age of five butthe term as we use it here has been extended to include domestic settingsand so encompasses formal and informal learning environments. Givengovernment initiatives in different countries to introduce ICT atprogressively earlier stages of education, there is a lively debate by parentsand practitioners on the desirability of such policies. So far, however, anoverview of research in this area has been lacking.Although our focus is on children aged 3-5 years, we draw on studies of children up to the age of about eight if there is little research available that isspecific to the pre-school years. Most of the literature points to the use of ICT in pre-school settings as being what Cuban (2001, p.67) refers to as a‘benign addition’. In other words, ICT has been brought into educationalenvironments as a useful supplement to existing resources. Its use does nottransform practice, however, and pre-school practitioners tend to perpetuateexisting ways of working whilst accommodating the new technologies.They are not alone in this, as school teachers also continue with theirexisting teaching styles rather than use the introduction of new technologiesas an opportunity to examine and transform existing practice (Becker &Riel, 2000).ICT is often narrowly construed as consisting mainly of desktop computers.However, the range of technologies available now and in the near futureprovides opportunities for a more radical transformation of teaching andlearning relationships and activities than desktop computers alone wouldprovide. The British Educational Communications and Technology Agencylists a number of products available to young children that incorporate some
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