Software in Child Care Settings

Living within the digital age, people need to acquire various skills and knowledge for daily events.  In early childhood settings, pupils need to be taught about technology.  Many educators do not realize the importance that having technology within the learning environment and how it can develop the child.  Therefore, when choosing the appropriate software for children may be challenging.  After completed a report on educational software it was notice that many things need to be considered in order to promote appropriate software that can be implemented within the learning environment.  There was difficulty when searching for the software that would be best to promote to others, after searching for about a week the one chosen was created by…….

Laugh and Learn, titled “Learning about Opposites.” 

This was chosen because it is developmentally appropriate for toddlers (1 – 2 ½ years).  It is a simple game that involves repetition (Allen & Marotz, 2007, p 116) that would enhance the child’s memorization as well as listening skills, since it is fully supported through audio feedback.  The child would use their entire arm to move the mouse around, just like when scribbling on paper, which would also help to build on full arm movements (Allen & Martoz, 2007, p 106).

The software is cartoon-based, single-framed and centralized on the screen.  The audio and visual is simple.  The directions are simplistic as it says, “in front, behind, which one is behind?”  As the narrator talks there is an animal that goes in front of a couch or behind a couch (demonstrates opposites) and then asks the user to chose one.  If the answer chosen is incorrect, then the screen gets shaded in blue and says try-again.  The user is left with one other option, once clicked it says great-job, adds cheery music and sparkles to the screen.  It motivates the child to continue instead of discouraging them from wanting to interact with the software.  This is probably the best quality of the software since it helps to not only motivate or discourage the child, as mentioned above but builds the child’s self-esteem.  The software has about 8 different rounds that teach different types of opposites before the game is finished and does not have a time limit. 

There are limitations to the software as well, that would need to be considered. As the user develops the skills and masters the game they may be disengaged in the activity and create boredom.  It does not offer opportunities for various levels of difficulty to increase the challenge, and to further their development (Goyne, 2000).  This being said, since the software is simplistic it does not challenge the user to develop their skills further, instead it just creates a barrier to further their development.  The software is also considered to be transmissive since it is user-computer based instead of user-user.  It supports individual engagement and limits for social interaction with multi-users.  However, the educator or child can create a social atmosphere by allowing more than one child to be playing the software and others can offer ideas and suggestions to choose the correct answer.

Just a few recommendations for educators if interested in using the software are to provide earphones if the atmosphere is noisy and the child want to be engaged in the software alone.  Or create a social setting by encouraging the children to create a game.  They can do a tally with hands on who thinks which one is the correct answer and the educator could ask open-ended questions to build on the learning experience.  Provide opportunities for the children to learn about opposites within the learning environment as well through activities within the program.   Most importantly, remember the software is fully supported through audio feedback, so make sure the speakers are on and the volumn is up!

Hope this information will be essential to educators when choosing and appropriate software for the child care setting.  After having difficulties to create and upload a Screen Cast, below is a demonstration of the software.   I hope that it provides more insight on how the game operates.  Enjoy!

Cristina Basile RECE 

References

Allen, E, & Morotz, L. (2007). Developmental Profiles: Pre-birth    through Twelve 5th Edition.

Goyne, J, & McDonough, K, & Padgett, D. (2000). Practical Guidelines for Evaluating Educational Software. Retrieved from Sheridan College SLATE

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Website’s “Less is more” Strategy Proves Effective

 

Website’s “Less is more” Strategy Proves Effective

Marketing techniques are essential for organizations to promote to others who they are, what they do and why they are better then their competitors.  While reviewing a child care website it has been noted that, thought went in when developing the website to include all the necessary information that is needed when looking for quality care.  Also, it was noticed when using the wayback website machine, the centre has updated their website twice before and for them it looks like the third time was a charm. You want to keep the content updated, whether it is updated every day, few weeks or even months (Tuck, 2003). The site was noticed to be current and adds information of what is occurring for the organization at that period of time.  The website that was chosen for this review was, Family Day Child Care Services

When first arriving to the site, it is noticed that the homepage is simple with a white background.  The logo is presented in the left hand corner, the colours (blue, green, and yellow) are representing the organization and photos of children are displayed across the top of the page. Mike Tuck, the author of the article Fundamentals of Web Design states, trademarks, logos, colour schemes and other elements that will need to be included in your design scheme.  This is what has been completed on this website.  The organization also has a quote that goes into what their beliefs are and the font is child-like. It also involves a menu with links that is located down the left side of the display with all the information that is needed which is user-friendly. 

The website is easy to navigate through, “A traditional method is to use a simple table of links that march down the left side of the page” (Tuck, 2003). With following the links on the side the desired questions are easily answered. The usability is simple and could be used by those who are not familiar with computers, as tested with an individual named Nick.  He was able to locate the contact information which provided opportunities for users to send an e-mail right on the page, as well as numbers to the administrative offices within the Peel and Toronto Regions.  The homepage shows the three municipal areas that the centre caters to: Peel, York and Toronto, which once clicked on brings you to the area, a general map and all the centres that provide care.  If clicked into one of the centres then it brings the user to a detailed page that provides more information regarding the centre, the supervisors contact as well as a more specific map to where the centre is located.  One of the best qualities that would be recognized on the centre’s website would be the fact that it is user-friendly, and easily accessible for a family that is looking for care within any of the three regions.  The site also provides the opportunity for families to access information that is needed to apply for financial assistance.  

Although, there are good qualities, some areas could be improved or added to enhance the quality of the website and to promote the child care centres.  Since it is a big and established organization, then it could be considered to add more multi-media to the site.  There are only photos and a few hyperlinks to the partnerships with the organization, however there are no embedded videos that could provide opportunities to see the interactions within the centres or to promote the centres. However, if doing this, it is advised to keep it simple and let the users know that this function is coming up, and let them decide if they want to activate it or not. (Tuck, 2003)   Also, providing the user an example of what the daily schedule would look like could be an asset. The website could provide opportunities so the users could take a virtual tour of the centre of interest, which could be an asset to the families who have hectic schedules and need the flexibility within their lives.  This provides them to tour the centre at their convenience instead of actually finding the time to visit the centre.

Just like Mike Tuck would say “less is more”, (2003) which Family Day’s website follows through in the most elegant way possible.  The design is simple, well-chosen colors and graphical design that doesn’t hurt the eyes, yet it invites the visitor to relax and enjoy the content.  (Tuck, 2003)

 By: Cristina Basile

 References:

Tuck, Mike. (2003) Practical Web Design – Fundamentals of Web Design Retrieved from

http://http://articles.sitepoint.com/print/fundamentals-web-design

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The Journey to Collaborative Writing

The Journey to Collaborative Writing

At some point in our lives we have taken time to sit with others and share ideas that then get jotted on paper to complete certain tasks.  A time that we think this is easy to do, one person writes while the others present their ideas.  Have you ever tried to complete a collaborative writing task that involves the use of technology that can be completed by individuals in various areas but at the same time?  Recently, I have done this and it is an interesting task to complete especially if there is limited training prior to.

To do the collaborative writing piece there are various Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that the group could use for example,  Wikispaces, PBWORKS, or a .  The one that the members decided to use for our collaborative writing piece was the Google Document.  The beginning tasks are simple, start by creating a Google Document account and then learning to add others so that the task could be underway.  Once the writing piece has a title then the other members would need to open the link that is sent via e-mail in order to begin.  Once everything was set up then everyone was able to begin the writing piece.  It could get frustrating especially at the beginning if not all members are signed in and on at the allocated time specially if there is a time frame that needs to be followed.  Everyone that is involved in the document is able to insert, remove, and correct information that is being inputted into the document at any given time.  It is user friendly and makes communication more assessable for having a chat function which is similar to various instant messengers, like msn, skype, etc .    The chat however, only works when all members are willing to communicate on it as well, otherwise it causes frustration. A quote from Edward R. Murrow, states that, “Communication is the process of exchanging information and ideas. An active process, it involves encoding, transmitting, and decoding intended messages. There are many means of communicating and many different language systems.”  Which is the process that was completed through this collaborative writing.  However, if everyone does not exchange information and ideas then the writing document would become fragmented.  As learned in Leadership in a Technological World, fragmented is when pieces need to be put together instead of having it all over the place.  As the document is in process everyone is adding ideas and thoughts that is all over the place and would need to be organized efficiently.  Once the members contribute to the chat the writing piece became clear and had a better flow to establishing the final product.

When using this form of technology, it became apparent as to how it would be beneficial to use within the field of Early Childhood.  When policy’s need to be created then the members can collaborate their ideas on the document at once instead of having to write it all down, meet and debate about the information.  Having the accessibility to technology would provide convenience for others.  Centers could also create a calendar that parents and staff could access by using the Google calendar.  Information could be on as to, meetings, fundraisers, field trips, children’s birthdays, holidays and any other information that would be relevant to the center.

When first exposed to a Wiki to complete a test, there was lots of frustration and anger that built up when learning to navigate around.  It was not a easy tool to use, unlike the document that was chosen for this writing piece.  Patience and practice is what it takes to accomplish the task which are two traits needed when in the field of Early Childhood, especially when learning new teaching techniques.

When it comes down to building a learning community where everyone is able to build and learn from others knowledge, using a technology that promotes collaborative work is essential.  Take the time to navigate the tool chosen in order to enhance the learning as much as possible.  Once using the document, I found that it was easier to navigate around compared to the wiki that was used in class prior to for assessment purposes.

Cristina Basile RECE

References

Murrow, E.  Best Quotes Retrieved from  http://www.best-quotes-poems.com/communication-quotes.html

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Technology in Child Care Settings

The reading, “Explosive Growth of Mobile Media Raises Questions for Young Children” by Susan Gunnewig, a blog that presents information about a report called “Learning: Is there an app for that?” which explains the use of mobile media with young children.  Parents are incorporating a “Pass-back effect” which is when they pass the mobile device such as smart phones or iPhones for the children to use for entertainment.  90 children that were observed that played games for two weeks have had improvements with letter-identification, vocabulary comprehension and rhyming.  Other children that were observed in the study were able to master complications on the device even after having frustration.  Could it be that since we are in the digital age and that children have been brought up with the use of technology that their learning increases when they are experimenting with devices?  It could be more entertaining than reading a book or engaging in play with others.  This is something that they are able to find a sense of pride in being able to operate the device which has them follow instructions and helps to increase their knowledge, reading and comprehension.

Working in the field of Early Childhood Education and with technology on the rise, it could be beneficial for children’s learning to incorporate devices within the curriculum.  For instances during work time the children can engage together with tools like a laptop, iPad, or Leap Frog products instead of mobile devices.   Not only would this increase the children learning, cognitively, but it could help to promote cooperation and teamwork.  Children would want to work with others since it is a shared interest.  The children will build on each other’s learning and add that knowledge to their existing knowledge.  For some children, they will begin to develop hand-eye cordination or build on existing abilities, for they will be needed to move the cursor around on the computer and maybe some click and drag with their fingers on the iPad.  The leapfrog has a pen like tool that the children learn to grasp it which is also incorporated in a daily routine that is associated with grasping materials to write with.  The only downfall that I would see with this is that too much time spent on the devices.  Children may become focused on the devices and not want to participate in the real world activities and build themselves in a virtual world.  Another issue is for those that may not have access to such technologies within the home enviornment and may feel left out.  However, I have recently come across an article about children and nutrition and it states that, “educational institutions have what no other setting, with the exception of home enviornment, have, that is continuous contact with children for the first two decades of their lives.” (Shor, R, et al. 2009)  This applies to children in many ways, as for technology it is essential to look at it in the ways. Yes, children do spend amples amounts of time at educational enviornments and that is why their should be access to such technologies, to give them the experience they need for the digital age that may not be experienced within the home enviornment.  Therefore, within the curriculum there could be designated times to incorporate technological devices.

I believe that children learn through play and their daily interactions.  They learn from what they experience within their community and within the environment.   It could be beneficial for the children to have devices within the learning environment but to a certain extent.  As discussed in class, we are in the digital age and I would need to adapt to that within the field, then the devices would be useful to teach and build on the children’s knowledge.  However, I do feel that the ways from the past would still need to be incorporated in order to gain maximum learning.  Having the devices within their environment may enhance their learning but as stated before to a certain extent.  It would help with the learning process because of the children’s own interest.  Cooperation skills need to be incorporated not only with the devices but without as well.  Children should still be engaged with play and stories in order to enhance their reading for when it comes to such devices.  Everyone builds on each other’s knowledge, so why not have children gain their knowledge that can be taken with them as they continue their learning journey.  After all, one needs to learn to walk before they learn to run.

By: Cristina Basile

References

Shor, R., & Friedman, A. (2009). Integration of Nutrition-Related Components by Early Childhood Education Professionals into Their Individual Work with Children at Risk. Early Child Development and Care, 179(4), 477-486. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
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