Digital Media Literacy for Early Childhood Educators

How do we support early childhood teacher preparation so it keeps pace with technology? At the 2014 Fred Forward Conference, representatives from the TEC Center at Erikson Institute, Mozilla Foundation, Common Sense Media, and the Council for Professional Recognition will discuss how to enhance digital media literacy for educators.

It’s challenging to be an analog-age educator welcoming digital-age children into your classroom each day. Making appropriate and intentional choices about the use of technology tools and digital media can be difficult, even overwhelming, for early childhood educators.

In a screen-saturated world, educators need to know how best to manage how much children watch, what they watch, and what they do while using screens. These decisions require a new literacy for educators, including the disposition, knowledge, experiences and competencies that lead to fluency with digital devices and media for young children.

Achieving fluency with digital media for early childhood educators requires innovative and hands-on approaches to pre-service teacher education and new pathways to professional development to assure that educators can appropriately and intentionally select, use, integrate and evaluate technology tools that support healthy child development and enhance early learning for young children.

Several resources, including this blog, can help educators. Recommended reading includes:

In addition, new mobile technology tools for social learning and being a connected educator offer ever-expanding opportunities to learn with and from other educators. Yet despite these and other resources, a troublesome gap persists when it comes to digital media literacy among early childhood educators. Early childhood teacher preparation is not keeping pace with the affordances of touch screens, interactive media, and opportunities for joint engagement that digital devices and mobile learning offer.

These and other issues are on the agenda at the June 1-3 Fred Forward Conference.

I will be moderating a panel June 3, Professional Development: Early Childhood-Media Partnerships, and we’ve assembled a diverse group of panelists to discuss new advances in professional development. An-Me Chung, chief of partnerships and policy at the Mozilla Foundation, will discuss how Open Badges, a new way to verify learning, can support professional development and enhance classroom practices. Rebecca Randall, vice president of education programs at Common Sense Media, will discuss the growing teacher community on Graphite, and how communities of interest and connected educators play a role in professional development. Valora Washington, CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition, will update the audience on the process of moving the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential program online and the Council’s interest in Open Badges as a tool for professional development.

The panel represents the kind of collaborations in professional development needed to enhance digital media literacy for early childhood educators. Technology and digital media offer new opportunities to support healthy child development, early learning, and early literacy—if we develop effective strategies for providing the professional development and hands-on experiences educators need to be mindful media managers, mediators, and mentors for young children, parents, and families.

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