By Margaret A Powers and Fran Simon

Could you choose a more exciting time to be working in the field of early childhood education (ECE)? These days, it doesn’t look like it! There is so much important and exciting work occurring right now in ECE, particularly around the topic of technology use in the classroom. With the release of the new NAEYC and Fred Rogers Center technology position statement: Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age there is now even clearer guidance for teachers who are interested in integrating technology into their classrooms in developmentally appropriate ways. To support this integration, a number of new resources have also been released by the Fred Rogers Center (The Early Learning Environment “Ele”), the Erikson Institute (The Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center), and our sister site,

With all of these free, accessible, and interactive community resources, the hope is that teachers, families, and administrators will begin to explore new and innovative ways to use technology as a tool for increased classroom engagement, individualized learning, and global collaboration. Of course, there are still many things that need to be clarified about the use of technology with young children. For example, some teachers may have concerns about “screen time” and the cognitive benefits of these tools. In order to alleviate these concerns, the key point that needs to be communicated and understood by everyone working with young children is that it is about the experience, not the tool! Every activity a child engages in, whether it is cooking in the dramatic play area; exploring another community on Google Earth; constructing a city in the block center; or creating a digital story using an iPad app, should be centered around the learning goals that are important for that specific child in relation to her or his developmental continuum. The question is not whether there are cognitive benefits to cooking utensils, Google Earth, blocks, or iPad apps, the question is whether there can there cognitive benefits to using those tools in scaffolded learning experiences. I would argue that the answer is yes for each one of those tools, as long as they are used in developmentally appropriate practice to engage children in open-ended, creative learning experiences.

In order to help clarify these types of questions and to gather more information about how technology is currently being used by administrators and teachers in early learning environments, the Early Childhood Technology Collaborative (ECTC), a new group of three early childhood technologists, is conducting the Early Childhood Technology Today Survey, 2012. As they state, “The objective of the Collaborative is to design and analyze the results of a series of brief surveys and develop and disseminate reports and whitepapers to inform our work and the field [of early childhood education] as a whole.” Their first survey is an overview of the technology tools teachers or administrators have or do not have in their programs, including questions about how these technologies are being use with children ages 2 through primary grades. If you would like to contribute to this research, you can access the survey here: Early Childhood Technology Today Survey, 2012