Use of Information Technology: Identifying the Key Competencies Expected of Pre-School Teachers

Project Number
OER 03/13 HKF

Project Duration
January 2014 - September 2017

Status
Completed

Abstract
In Singapore, the Ministry of Education (MOE) as well as the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) have recognized the importance of early childhood education. A good pre-school education can help stimulate young children's curiosity and love for learning which could prepare them for their next stage of learning in primary schools (MOE, 2012). As facilitators of learning, pre-school teachers are expected to plan and provide for their children's learning by using a variety of resources, including information technology (IT). The term IT refers to digital media or tools, including computers, tablets, multi-touch screens, Internet, digital cameras, audio recorders, and e-book readers. We are aware that there are concerns about whether children should have access to IT due to potential health or social risks such as eye strain, poor sitting postures, and poor ability to interact with peers. However, many of these concerns seem to stem mainly from unsupervised use of IT by children. While the use of IT may not be appropriate for very young children such as infants and toddlers, the potential benefits of technology for older children's (e.g., ages five and six) learning and development are well documented. IT, when used appropriately can extend pre-school children's learning and thinking (Barron, Cayton-Hodges, Bofferding, Copple, Darling-Hammond, & Levine, 2011; Haugland, 2000; NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media, 2011). Pre-school teachers therefore play a critical role in determining how well their children can learn using IT. The question therefore is whether pre-school teachers have the requisite knowledge and skills (Ng, 2003). The key purpose of this proposed study is to identify the key IT competencies that are expected of pre-school teachers in order to integrate technology appropriately in their lessons. In this study, appropriate technology integration is viewed as the use of IT tools and software to extend children learning and development, rather than merely replace existing activities such as physical activity, outdoor experiences, and social interactions with adults and with other children. This study involves two main tasks. The first task is to investigate various pre-school teacher educations and professional developments in other countries all around the world (not sure we want to claim all around the world) with regard to IT integration in early childhood programs. The purpose of the investigation is to identify some key IT competencies that pre-school teachers need to know and be able to do in order to extend children's learning and development. The second task is to use the results of the investigation in the first task as input for the design of relevant instruments such as interview questions and questionnaires to solicit feedback from relevant stakeholders in Singapore regarding the key IT competencies expected of teachers. The stakeholders include principals of pre-schools, pre-school teachers, parents, and IT experts in pre-school education such as officers from the Ministry of Education (preschool unit/ IT Training Branch). The identification of key IT competencies expected of teachers would be useful for policy makers to formulate a possible IT education curriculum to teach pre-school educators. This would ensure that pre-school teachers have the necessary IT knowledge and skills in order to extend their children's learning needs.

Funding Source
NIE

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