There is an increasingly, worrying trend happening in education technology in the Early Childhood area at the moment. This became even more evident for me today. You see one of my favourite resources I use with younger students is the Application Adobe Ideas. Recently Adobe Ideas has gone web (cloud) based. Great you say, the cloud is the future. I agree with you! But let's for a minute take a look at education and schools. Let's examine their network capabilities! Let's acknowledge that our little learners use such Applications. And most importantly let's take a look at who may not have access to the cloud.
Adobe Ideas is, sorry was, an incredibly simple and effective tool for my little learners. We had students using from ages 6-10. We could capture photos and create digital replicas by tracing over images. The tool itself was a great way of teaching little learners about layers and transparency. From a curriculum perspective, we used Adobe ideas in literacy for illustrations in e-books as well as creating digital works in Science and Geography. But best of all it allowed us to create and save work whilst developing some skills along the way. The focus was always on the learning. We started with a blank canvas, allowing students to create a make thinking more visible.
It has been rebranded and renamed by Adobe. This isn't an issue. However, being faced with a login, an account creation was an issue. I understand the push towards the cloud, I really do! But what companies need to realise is that the cloud is not for everyone. Students in schools with little or no wifi connectively have little or no option to find an alternative. These alternatives are difficult to find.
There is an increasing push by large companies to get younger students into Apps that offer no skill or product development. Where students simply react, recall and imitate.
A quick search on the App store for the most popular Apps in education shows this. These Apps address a niche in the market. These Apps are often game based that involve little or no adult instruction. This, in some cases is what parents want. But with this often comes little skill development or saving capabilities. With the global push for creative thinking in schools, this trend is a worry.
The greater worry is the decisions being made by large edtech companies are having significant impact on schools and student learning.
As someone who firmly believes our use of tech in the younger years should:
foster communication and collaboration
allow thinking to become more visible
I am concerned our younger learners (and to some extent our Early Childhood teachers) are being forced to use tech in ways that don't match our pedagogical thinking. Some will say let's just let our kids use applications that are web based. I don't agree with this. I believe technology should always place learning at the forefront of the task. Very young students entering usernames and relying on the school network does not make for this 'focus on learning'.
Time for a rethink ADOBE and others. Teachers and students have stopped using your products in the younger years because the cloud is not everything. Learning is! Great things can also happen outside the cloud.
Our Early Childhood teachers and younger students need resources that push and challenge thinking, develop skills and enhance rich, authentic learning experiences. Our Early Childhood teachers and younger students deserve better.