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New Media Journalism Toddlers and Tablets

Digital Learning to Improve Early Education

Love T. Nolan Elementary School is located in South Fulton County (College Park, GA). Majority of the students come from low-income families and have not had the same advantage to technology (pre-entering school) that other children may have had. Hatch Technology Services in their background research showed that “Compared to their middle-income peers, young low-income children display poorer language/literacy and mathematics skills, putting them at high risk for school failure.” So by putting programs that scaffold learning into these schools one can possibly help them to beat the odds.

students at LTN MARCH 2013
Infographic created by: Amanda Golden

Love T. Nolan has approximately 300 students in grade PK-2ND grade according to the March 2013 FTE numbers. Fulton County Schools Tech Specialist, Carl Golden, “feel[s] that introducing students to technology at an early age is very beneficial to their educational growth and development.”

In the school there are 42 classrooms, continues Golden, “including art, music, and P.E. use digital technology during instruction.” Of these 42 there are 6 that we will focus on. There are 6 teachers who are utilizing the Hatch Technology Tablets in their classroom at Love T. Nolan all in the Pre- Kindergarten arena. Golden stated that of these teachers “One class has 4 students; 1 class has 10 students; the remaining classes have at least 15 students but all students are exposed to the Hatch Tablet for learning.”  These tablets are said to have significant success in improving the readiness for the student to go to the next grade level according to Hatch: The Early Learning Experts.

Infographic Created by: Amanda Golden
Infographic Created by: Amanda Golden

Nolan Elementary School Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Alicia Prather uses the Hatch tablet in her classroom for literacy.  Prather says, “Letter recognition and phonic recognition are the types of activities that are used most often” in her classroom. The students seem to enjoy the tablet use and she has seen “some growth” in many of her students though she cannot be “to positive that the growth is contributed to the use of the tablet or other techniques used in class.” This is true of many teachers using the product. Hatch: The Early Learning Experts founder, Ginny Norton explained that the tablets are “not talking about having technology replace the teacher” they (teachers) are to “consistently incorporate them into the daily routine to impact school readiness.” So it is together with the techniques used already in the classroom that technology is “appropriately used” to enhance school readiness in students.

Pre-K Student using tablet at Nolan Elementary School. Photo credit: Amanda Golden
Pre-K Student using tablet at Nolan Elementary School. Photo credit: Amanda Golden

As written in the School Systems Strategic Plan 2017  their community has “clearly demonstrated their demand and desire for more integration of technology through the renewal of  [their] sales tax for capital improvements, which will be heavily invested in technology.” These projections have been made true to reflect the Fulton County School System FY2014 Budget , there will be $100,000.00 in the budget to fund “computers and iPad’s for new staff for all Learning and Teaching Offices. There will be an additional $250,000.00 in the Instructional Media Technology Category of the budget to “To provide district level electronic books, available for use by all students, teachers and parents (K-12). These Electronic books will support Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS).”

As a result of an increased budget for Integrating Technology into their school system they are ensuring that their teacher, parents and students will have “the tools and information necessary to accelerate learning.”

However, there are other programs that are not as lucky. In an article published by the Harvard International Review (B. PELHAM, 2009) “the assumption that wealthy countries tend to have better education systems than poorer countries is correct.” Not everyone has access to computers and tablet devices unless a sponsoring program steps in. The article shows “evidence indicates that the level of computer propagation in a country is strongly associated with its students’ scores” on standardized test a lot like the ones in the states.  There is a program called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) that helped students in Abuja, Nigeria to advance educationally.  They also help other countries that are in lower wealth states to advance. Advocates of the OLPC Program suggest, “computers are powerf[ul] learning tools, bringing information to students’ fingertips and allowing them to interact with it and synthesize it in ways that would be impossible otherwise.”

According to Hatch: The Early Learning Experts Study on the iStartSmart Learning System, “Preliminary results of a scientific research study on the iStartSmart software showed children had significant gains on standardized tests in comparison to control group children who had not used iStartSmart software.”

 

Bibliography

B. PELHAM, S. C. (2009, July 01). Technology and Education: The Power of the Personal Computer. Harvard International Review , 74-76.

 

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