Children at Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley are switched on when it comes to technology.
Working in collaboration with Playing IT Safe and the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, the early learning service has come up with a variety of ways for children to explore technology, discover its benefits, and learn to use it safely.
GVBV Educational Leader Hannah Fruin says many children think technology is simply iPads and phones. “There are some frightening figures out there on how many children have access to these,” Hannah says. “So, we look at broadening this understanding by introducing things like walkie-talkies and polaroid cameras to the service. We also had a photobooth set up in the centre for a while, which families were invited to use.”
The program includes the use of a GPS to track the children’s adventures during On Country sessions, introducing children to the concept that GPS and navigational technology are types of networked technology and can involve messages sent to a satellite, or between phones and computers.
Children also use cameras during their On Country visits and explore the concepts of consent and permission when taking or sharing photos.
Educator Stephen Williams says discussions in the classroom focus on the positive use of iPads for research. “We also talked a lot about why we use passwords and why it’s important not to give these details out to people,” he says.
In one activity, a personal photo of an educator making a silly face is locked in a money box with a pin code, to help children understand the value of passwords and why they are used in relation to privacy and safety. Children discuss the concept of applying a password to something important to them, and only sharing it with a trusted adult.
“It’s about being aware of technology and knowing how to use it safely,” Stephen says.
Towards the end of the latest program, the early learning service worked with Kids’ Own Publishing to create a book, with funding from the Gandel Foundation and extra support from the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.
“One of Kids’ Own Publishing’s artists came for a series of workshops to capture children’s thoughts and ideas around technology,” Stephen says. “It soon became clear that the children were very interested in robots, so our book was titled Robot Bebop. We put eyes on clocks and phones to highlight the technology that was around us.”
Children’s artwork and voices were captured in the book Robot Bebop and launched at GVBV.
For more information, see www.playingitsafe.org.au and www.alannahandmadeline.org.au.