COI Roskill South Kindergarten: Strengthening Learning and Teaching using ICT

Publication Details

A number of outcomes from the Roskill South Kindergarten Centre of Innovation action research project are set out in this Report. The project asked questions about the integration of ICT into everyday learning and teaching in a kindergarten sited in a multicultural and multilingual community. What were the outcomes for children and families? What were some of the key features of such an integration and what difference did it make for teachers?

Author(s): Karen Ramsey, Jane Breen, Jacqui Sturm, Wendy Lee and Margaret Carr, Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, The University of Waikato.

Date Published: June 2006

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Executive Summary

A number of outcomes from the Roskill South Kindergarten Centre of Innovation action research project are set out in this Report. The project asked questions about the integration of ICT into everyday learning and teaching in a kindergarten sited in a multicultural and multilingual community. What were the outcomes for children and families? What were some of the key features of such an integration and what difference did it make for teachers?

ICT added another (predominantly visual) mode of communication and representation for children who have not yet learned to read and write. It enabled them to `read' and revisit their learning, strengthening their identities as confident and competent learners. It also enabled them to develop their story-telling abilities and dispositions by telling visual stories (often about their own or about other children's learning) with spoken or dictated commentary. Children added ICT to their communication repertoire, and it enhanced their dispositions to use other modes: to speak, write and draw. ICT provided a `way in' to communicate in a range of modes, in a new place, and a motivation to participate. ICT added excitement and interest to the learning in many areas and topics. It also added ways in which children could take responsibility in the learning and teaching process, and children took up these opportunities with enthusiasm.

In a community where many families have little or no English, or where English is an additional language, ICT provided a common language for families and children to communicate with each other and with teachers. It provided a transitional or bridging language, as well as an additional (life-long) language. Innovative use of ICT in this project widened the participating community to include families and whānau in a mutual learning and teaching endeavour with the teachers and the children. Children and families became teachers as well.

The integration at Roskill South Kindergarten of ICT and Te Whāriki with Learning Stories has been a powerful combination for enhancing learning within all five strands of Te Whāriki. The combination developed a culture in which each of the children was recognised as a competent child by the teachers, by the children themselves, and by the families. Children could use the digital camera to prepare their own Learning Stories, and they could explain their learning to others in slide shows and powerpoints. Te Whāriki's vision, principles, and strands provided the framework for the aims of the learning and teaching. Te Whāriki was foregrounded, with ICT as a mediating tool. At the same time, children families and teachers were developing considerable ICT knowledge and skill, inside meaningful enterprises.

The project revealed the inestimable value of teachers having time for reflection and discussion about the children's learning and their own teaching. The project did not fund extra everyday time, but the project demands for the teachers to present their views locally (at visitors' days), nationally and internationally (at conferences and workshops) - in almost 100 presentations and publications over the three years - provided the impetus for managing their time and technology in order to reflect on their practice. The project also provided opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice with outside researchers, or `critical friends'. Both of these opportunities for discussion (the everyday spaces found by managing their time differently, and the special spaces provided by the project), in the view of the research team, meant that they became better teachers: noticing recognising and responding to the children's learning in more thoughtful, educational, intuitive, and often innovative ways. The teachers also reported that they became more expert at educational discussion and at responding to questions and provocations about their practice.

One of the key findings of this project is that adding more technology - cameras and laptops in particular - on its own made this work possible but not probable. The early childhood centre began to be seen as a network or system in which teaching and learning are distributed across: a range of artefacts (including a curriculum and assessment formats), routines, the location of power or expertise (including the image of the child and the image of a teacher), and family participation. The key aim of the project, the strengthening of children's learning using ICT, became probable only when all these `mediating devices' were `in synch' or working together with the same principles and vision in mind. Hence, this final report describes the work using a systems framework.

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