Contemporary ICT Practices: Conforming or Transforming?

           The purpose of Lynch and Redpath (2012) discussion was to reveal how touch screen devices, specifically iPads, are being integrated into early years classrooms to support literacy. The findings of this qualitative study provides insight into students’ attitudes towards and proficiency with the devices, the practices of the teacher involved in the study and the teacher’s vision and philosophy with regards to technology integration (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 7). Through observations and interviews, it is revealed that the iPads were initially used in a closed ended manner where gamified literacy and numeracy apps were accessed to support the acquisition of traditional print-based literacy skills (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 12). Moving towards more of a reforming approach, the teacher in the study also used the iPads in a multimodal manner to move her traditional listening center towards a more interactive experience where students could turn the pages and follow along with the animations (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 12). During interviews, the teacher in the study revealed her vision was to support her students in becoming producers of their own knowledge rather than just consumers (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 15). Having students make their own choices about which medium to use for learning activities, such as drawing a picture, using the iPad to draw or taking a screenshot with the iPad, was also a priority (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 15). “Instead of their learning being contained in a content-specific app, which presents them with opportunities to practice staged print-based skills, the students move fluidly between apps and their self-created digital content to create a multimodal text that is them share with their community…” (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 20). The main source of tension experienced by teachers is the priority of policy, accountability and assessment over innovation. “ Historically, it has been those technologies that are a good fit with existing practices that are most easily implemented into classrooms, while those that afford different types of roles and relations are adapted to institutionalized ways of doing teaching and learning” (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 23).

Personal Reflections:

            Throughout Lynch and Redpath’s discussion, I made several connections to my teaching practices and philosophy as well as the disconnect between the two. I often feel as though my ICT practices get stuck in more closed ended activities or games. This article helped me to place my practices on a continuum from conforming to transforming. The discussion of how closed ended apps reinforce and support traditional skill based literacy learning helped me to understand where I need to move my practices, and some practical applications, to be more transforming. I appreciate the tensions the teacher in the study was struggling with as to where her practices are and what her vision is. I too find this a struggle in my classroom and often feel accountability, assessment and policies detracts from the potential of living multimodality. The mastery of print-based skills is still very much privileged in our education system and far too often, technology tools are being reduced to interactive versions of a worksheets or books.

References:

Lynch, J. & Redpath, T. (2012). ‘Smart’ technologies in early years literacy education: A meta-narrative of paradigmatic tensions in iPad use in an Australian preparatory classroom. Journal of early childhood literacy, 1(0), 1-28. Doi: 10.1177/1468798412453150

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