I am a Senior Early Years Educator in a nursery class in Dundee. I have previously worked as an ICT staff tutor and have a love of using digital technologies in all aspects of my life. Within the settings I have worked, I have seen the benefits of using digital technologies to support learning. I have worked with staff on building their confidence with technologies and I have seen the benefits of how this has helped engage children in their learning.
The digital learning and teaching strategy for Scotland – Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through The Use of Digital Technology – encourages educators to share innovative and effective practice. To do this we must support staff to build confidence in using technologies, not by learning how to use specific programmes but by developing skills that are transferable. Also, we want to show practitioners how, by using digital technologies we will engage pupils in learning in a meaningful way. The strategy is not about just learning how to use one specific piece of software or hardware, it’s about inspiring practitioners to understand that we can use digital technologies to engage learners, changing their attitudes to how we learn. We need to ensure that practitioners have a range of technologies to choose from to best suit the needs of the learning.
Within early years there may be many barriers to delivering learning supported by digital technologies. Practitioners often find they are stretched for time. We need to see the strong benefits of investing in time to learn how something new works. Early years priorities have recently moved towards a pedagogical approach and this is very much about taking the child’s interests forward and the practitioner supporting that learning in the best possible way. When we think about taking children’s interests forward and recording those interests we should be thinking about how we can do this digitally, as long as that is the best way to do it. It is a practitioners responsibility to build digital skills in our young people, so we all have a responsibility to keep up to date with technologies to enable them to do so. There is a large focus in early years education towards outdoor learning. This should not mean we cannot engage with technologies in the outdoor environment, we just need to embrace it in a different way. Using social media to share our learning, using cameras and video to capture learning to share and discuss later. I feel it is important to ensure the best possible resources for my own setting and this means tracking down who you need to support you and not being afraid to ask for the hardware and software you feel you need to support your children in their learning.
Using ‘Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through Digital Technology’ and starting with your own self-evaluation gives stepping stones for improvement. Embedding these next steps in your improvement plans and action plans will support a vision for digital technologies engagement. Part of these plans must involve the investment in building confidence of staff in the use of technologies and an understanding of how digital technologies can support learning.
The digital learning and teaching strategy is important to those working in education because it provides the guidance and vision for digital learning in Scotland. Through the strategy I intend to share my practice with digital technologies, both practice that works and practice that doesn’t, as we need to reflect and learn from each other. I would hope that other practitioners within the early years can join the digital community, share and learn with me as we move on this journey together.