I am always appreciative when a course, workshop, or program recognizes the need for space and time to reflect, and think with. For me, that time for reflection allows me to make deep connections to my practice and think about next steps or questions to be asked. To question how does this challenge or change my practice ?
EDCI 567: Interactive and Multimedia Learning Theories I was introduced to some new ways of knowing, thinking, and reflecting. I was also introduced to some new tools such as bluejeans, Hypothesis, Zotero, and Trello, that I feel will help me be better organized, productive, and efficient as I work to complete my Masters.
I started my inquiry with a lot of questions (see: Personal learning goals) which seemed to stem from the question of whether technology use was “appropriate” in my context and with the age group (3-5) I primarily work with. As I began to dive deeper into what was “appropriate” (See: For what purpose do we educate?) I was very quickly steered down a path that was both “unsettling” though also felt “right”. I have used phrases such as “best practice” though I have always questioned and sought to disrupt many of the ideologies that seem to inform “developmentally appropriate practice” and “best practices.” Who defines what is “appropriate” and “best,” how does this take into account context ? Culture ? History? Power dynamics?
Working in a forest school, I quite literally work outside of mainstream early childhood education (at least in Newfoundland). However, many of the children (as well as families, and ECES) have come to forest school seeking an alternative to a system that they felt they did not “fit” into.
Interestingly, as I posed the question “where does technology fit in the Forest School context?” to colleagues, families, and those in similar programs online, it felt like my question was met with a lot of resistance. I wanted to explore this more. How could children’s technology use “fit” with Forest School Principles? Why was there such resistance to bringing nature and technology together? While, I feel I concluded my inquiry with more questions than “answers,” I felt I had also gained new perspectives and tools for deepening my reflective practice.
Through my inquiry research and conversations with others in my pod, I was introduced to posthumanist and new materialism theories. These provided me with different perspectives to think with altering the way in which I position myself in relation to children, as well as technology (See: in-between spaces, as it the two cannot come together and what is lost ..). Instead of privileging one over the other such as child over educator (child-centered) or technology over nature in subjective hierarchies, I have started to pay more attention to the relationships, tensions, and reflect on the intra-actions, assemblages, as they connect and re-connect with other matters. I have become more curious and aware of those spaces between, and the meaning making being made.
In my own practice, time is put aside each day to reflect with my colleagues. As a student, this is not always the case, based on other online classes I have participated in, at least not in a meaningful way. This was a component of this course, that I greatly valued.
Each week my “pod” and I met using buejeans (video conferencing platform), to discuss our self-directed inquiries, the course, and each others blog posts. Their perspective brought new insights and critical reflection to my practice. Some questions I have thought with based on my pods learing journey have been
- What messages are being sent to children (infants) as they observe adults usage of digital devices? How are they being socialized to think about digital technology and themselves in relation to technology? How does this impact relationship building between infants/children and their caregivers? How does educator use of digital technologies (ex. Using our phones to document children’s
- How can digital technology use be ethical and sustainable ? Also how am I honoring the special moments that take place at drop-off/pick-up time (looking forward to seeing how this project develops )?
- In terms of documentation (photography use) How can we shift our anthropocentric gaze (thinking about the photos educators take, and the photos children take)? How can we shift our practice from thinking about, to thinking with assemblages, and co-shaping agents (human, materials, place, discourses)?
From here …
As I was putting together my final presentation and rereading my paper, I began to reflect on the inquiry “process” and how “unfinished” mine felt.
While I focused on technology use in inquiry and place-based learning, I think my topic led me to a greater overarching question which is, What assumptions and perspectives are shaping our practice?/Forest School practice?
I am looking forward to diving deeper into posthumanism, new materialism, and the commonworlds framework. I would like to think deeper, with my forest school colleagues, families, and children, using these theories/frameworks, about “best practices” and FS principles such as “stewardship,” “sustainability,” “inquiry,” and “experiential learning.”
Further, I would like to reflect more on the inquiries of those in my pod and in this cohort.
As an early childhood educator in Newfoundland, I am appreciative of the new perspectives I have gained on digital technology use in the early years, and in particular from different contexts (infant, preschool, elementary, primary, and various provinces) than my own.
Stay tuned … as I continue to document this journey (towards gaining my Masters of Education) …