How Am I Doing? A Checklist for Identifying Exemplary Uses of Technology for Early Learning

Do technology tools and interactive media like iPads, cameras, or e-readers, belong in the early childhood classroom? If so, how should early childhood educators be using them? What are the best ways and when are the best times to use technology with very young kids in a classroom setting?

The NAEYC-Fred Rogers Center position statement is meant to help educators answer some of these questions. We believe that technology and interactive media can be effective tools for learning and development when early childhood educators use them intentionally and in developmentally appropriate ways. But how can educators know if they’re using technology well? What does that look like?

Enter the Pennsylvania Digital Media Literacy Project, an initiative that supports standards-aligned practices and high-quality programs that extend and enrich opportunities for learning and development through digital media literacy.

How can educators know if they’re using technology well? What does that look like?

One goal of this initiative, which includes representatives from the Fred Rogers Center, the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning, and Carlow University, has been identifying ways to help adapt our position statement to the field of early childhood education. The statement provides guidance, and provides examples of age-appropriate use. It also includes suggestions from researchers, educators, and advocates, who can help educators navigate this continuously evolving environment. The quantity of information can be overwhelming, and a question we often hear from educators is, “What do I do now?”

To help, we are pleased to introduce a checklist that brings together recommendations from all of these experts. This checklist is meant to help educators identify exemplary uses of technology and interactive media for early learning.

We hope this document will serve as a planning and reflection tool. It’s grouped around four major digital media literacy skills: selection, analysis, use, and evaluation. Each section identifies general goals for educators, provides examples of how those goals may be realized, and suggests paths to reach them. Using the checklist can support best practices and help educators put the position statement into action.

We tried to identify the many overlapping themes and recommendations from trustworthy, research-based sources, and classify them according to essential digital media literacy skills. This checklist is focused primarily on integration, and can be used alongside other guides to selecting developmentally appropriate media for classrooms, like the ones from HATCH, Learning in Hand, and Chicago Public Schools, among others.

It isn’t scored. Instead, it provides spaces for educators to comment on what they are doing. Educators don’t have to check off every box for technology use to be successful. Many of the checklist items apply to specific instances of technology and interactive media use in early childhood education. Others are more general.

In an environment where there is so much available technology, it is our hope that this checklist can serve as a useful guide to support educators and improve program quality. For more read, Ten Questions Educators Should Ask When Using Technology With Young Children.

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