Introducing Young Children to Computers

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"Introducing Young Children to Computers"
C. Odman

Presented at: Global Hands-On Universe
Lisbon, Portugal
July 2008

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Introducing Young Children to Computers

  1. 1. Introducing young children to computers Dr. C.J.Ödman, Universe Awareness contact: carolina.odman@unawe.orgGHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ Why introduce computers at an early age?• Computers are everywhere – The more they are understood, the more they are invisible• Potential for a divide – Can / can-nots more than have / have-nots• Advantage of an early introduction – Eagerness of children – Pre-emption of preconceptionsGHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ 1
  2. 2. How to introduce computers & at what age?• Before 3 unnecessary – computers don’t help learning of crawling, talking, walking and making friends.• Ages 3 - 4 – Ready to explore the computer – Need time – Do together (kids together or with adults) – Positive influence on the child’s development: Cause-effect, dexterity, abstractionGHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ How to introduce computers & at what age?• Ages 5 - 7 – Ready to explore with the computer – Free choices – Independence in learning pace – Interface (soft- and hardware) important: can hinder learning – Peer learning most efficient but only small groups possibleGHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ 2
  3. 3. Requirements and recommendations• Teacher preparation – Know the potential & desirable learning outcomes• !! Don’t use a new technology to teach in traditional ways !! – Not good: Drill and practice, Instructional activities, don’t replace thinking by searching! – Good: Creative activities, Concrete experiences, kids’ control of learning, learning together, teach powerful ideasGHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ Summary• Below the age of 3, computers cannot really be considered educational• Kids may take on new technology easily but it does not mean they have an easy time learning• Integrate computer-based learning in a wider learning context• Don’t let the computer do the thinking• When the computer is as invisible as the glass of a window, it can be used to enhance the learning experience greatly.GHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ 3
  4. 4. Conclusion• A healthy introduction to computers at ages 4 - 7 is: – Very useful to demystify computers and pre-empt a skills divide among children – Probably necessary in today’s world – Not the solution• If it has not occurred at a young age, it can be caught up fairly easilyGHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ What is UNAWE?• Expose very young (4 - 10 years), underprivileged children to inspirational aspects of astronomy• Broaden young formative minds• Awaken curiosity in science• Stimulate world citizenshipGHOU meeting, Lisbon, July 18, 2008 http://www.unawe.org/ 4

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