iPods, iPads, desktops, laptops, cameras and video cameras; today’s generation is electronic. From the house, to work, to the classroom, technology surrounds people. Pacific’s College of Education is giving children a head start into today’s electronic world.
The College of Education’s Early Learning Community in the bottom of Berglund Hall knows how to keep up to date with new electronics. The preschool and kindergarten classes, also known by the ELC staff as the dolphins and sharks, have some current technology lining their walls.
There are two desktop computers, a laptop, an iPad, three digital cameras and a video camera in each of the three rooms for different class activities. They have digital microscopes in their science and exploration area to be used when designated as appropriate. There is also a SMART Board, a projector touch screen that can be manipulated like an iPad or computer tablet, in the kindergarten class. These children are not the 18 to 20-something college students working in the science and computer labs, but they have just as advanced technology as the rest of the undergraduate campus.
The ELC, which was developed by Mark Bailey, received a $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation for its creation and advancement. This three-classroom area of Berglund is designed to maintain 60 young students a day. The ELC is a play-based learning facility that has three lead teachers with master’s degrees in teaching with two assistant teachers in every room. It is a place not only meant to help the learning and understanding of the children, but to be a training ground for the education students at Pacific.
The ELC program is working on an experimental “best practices” way of learning, which focuses on active engagement. It is a demonstration school, constantly developing to make itself better based off of the current methods and studies in the COE and other institutions. Incorporating today’s technology into their everyday lives is a way to prepare the children for the world around them.
The children use the technology when it is best suited to their current lessons or methods of learning. Bailey described an example of how if a child felt like he had made the “most awesome-est castle ever” out of blocks, which are put away every day, the boy would be allowed to grab one of the cameras to take a picture. The teachers could then encourage said child to write a story about what was happening in that awesome castle, turning playtime into an educational exercise.
Some classes can end up using different items everyday in a week and other times some kids won’t touch anything electronic for several days. The ELC uses electronics to support and enhance the educational material they are teaching, following the idea that Bailey points out, “technology, when appropriate, can be powerful.”