ERG SES C 01, ICT and Education
In today’s education approach, learning is defined as a process in which students construct their own sense of the world and develop critical thinking skills rather than memorizing the facts out of context (Donaldson & Knupfer, 2002). This change makes new generation’s needs, interests and experiences different (Calvert & Jordan, 2001; Prensky, 2001). In this change, technology has become a considerable role in providing rich environments for education (Marina, 2001). This is the same for early care and childhood education, too (Clements, 1994; NAEYC, 2012). The hot debates and concerns on technology use in early childhood education during the 1980s have evolved and new concerns have occurred to be resolved (Haugland, 2000; Yelland, 1999). For example, recently, STEM, the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, has been widely heard (Sanders, 2009) and Robotics, a distinguishable tool for STEM education, (Barker et al., 2012) has been benefited for the learning and development of young children (e.g. Bers, 2008; 2010; Keren & Fridin, 2014; Sullivan, Bers & Mihm, 2017). The educational robotics used in research is categorized into three groups namely, social robots, robotics kits, and toy robots (Virnes, 2014). It is believed that educational robotics approach comes from Papert’s programmable robot turtle ‘Logo’ and contributes to the high order skills (Komis & Misirli, 2016). For example, research findings inform that educational robotics improve problem-solving skills and logical thinking abilities (Kazakoff, Sullivan & Bers, 2013), abstract thinking and programming (Misirli & Komis, 2014), computational thinking (Bers, 2010) and mathematical thinking skills (Rogers & Portsmore, 2004). As it is seen from the research studies, the use of educational robotics is considered as a new and important step in education even in early childhood education (Panayiotou & Eteokleous-Grigoriou, 2017). Since rapid changes in many areas are making existing knowledge and skills old-fashioned, new knowledge and new discoveries present new paths (Molnar, 1997). This change has transformed the way of play tools, too. For example, while children can play with many traditional toys (Moore, 2010), they can also play with digital toys which shows a growing potential for new forms of play (Marsh, 2010). Research reports indicated that play is not just a behavior (Sheridan, Howard, & Alderson, 2011) rather it is a dynamic and challenging process (Wood, 2013). The importance of play has been emphasized by many pioneer scholars (Wood & Attfield, 2005) and research studies reported some benefits of the play such as improving self-regulation and meta-cognition levels (Whitebread, 2010), engagement and motivation (McInnes et al., 2009), and promoting cognitive, physical, social, and emotional involvement (Wood, 2013). Therefore, the play is considered a powerful way of enhancing children’s learning and development (Anning, 1991; Moyles, 1989, Glassy & Romano, 2003). With the advent of new toys, the primary caregivers of young children are getting confused. According to Bredekamp (2011), parents are considered as the first teachers in a child’s life. Therefore, caregivers, especially the parents have a responsibility to arrange the technology use for children’s benefits in learning environments (NAEYC, 2012).
In brief then, considering parent’s crucial role and the availability of educational robotics in children’s lives, it is important to explore the parent’s thoughts about the educational robotics which is designed to improve the young children’s learning and development. For this purpose, there are four research questions as presented below:
- What are the parents’ toy purchasing habits, in general?
- What do parents think about the use of the educational robotics in early childhood education?
- Do mothers and fathers think differently regarding the educational robotics as a toy in early childhood education?
- What characteristics do parents consider important in the educational robotics?
This project was designed considering Design-Based Research (DBR) methodology. According to Barab and Squire (2004), design-based research is “a series of approaches, with the intent of producing new theories, artifacts, and practices that account for and potentially impact learning and teaching in naturalistic settings” (p.2). For this purpose, this methodology is systematic, however; a flexible methodology that aims educational improvements as taking account the collaboration between the researchers and practitioners or users (Wang & Hannafin, 2005). Compared to the traditional methodologies, different approaches and methods from multiple sources can be utilized based on the needs and aims of the research (Wang & Hannafin, 2005; Reinking & Bradley, 2008). Therefore, in this study, we (the researchers) collaborated with the parents using semi-structured interviews including follow-up questions and a questionnaire using Likert type ranging from 1 to 3 (i.e. 1=don't mind, 2=nice to have, and 3=must have). The instruments were prepared by the researchers reviewing the literature and piloted to check for the possible revisions. The collected data were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. For quantitative data, descriptive and inferential (chi-square) statistics (Pallant, 2007) were conducted while for qualitative data, codes and themes were created on the basis of participant’s responses and the related literature (Creswell, 2005). Design Procedure: Anticipated design procedure of this project consists of three phases namely, “Preparation or Preliminary Research”, “Design, Prototyping or Development”, and “Evaluation”. In this study, we focus on the first phase of the project and report the related findings. This preliminary research phase is seen as a crucial phase because it provides a relevant and valid design decision to make notable progress (Nieveen & Folmer, 2013). Sampling and Ethical Issues: Convenience and purposive non-random sampling methods were used to select the participants (N=22). Before implementing the research, consent for participation in the research was taken, verbally. Moreover, all participants were informed about volunteer participation, the aim of the research, and the confidentiality of the answers.
To begin with the results of demographic information, in this study, there were 22 parents including 17 mothers and 5 fathers whose children aged between 3 to 8, which represents early childhood education children (NAEYC, 2012). In terms of the education level, all of the parents were graduated from university and working. Lastly, the parents’ age was between 30-40. To continue with the toy purchasing habits, parents, as well as close relatives, buy the toys from toy-stores/shopping malls for children. They generally consider the children’s interest while purchasing a toy. Both mothers and fathers wanted to purchase educational robotics as a toy for their children. The proportion of the fathers (80%) was higher than the mothers’ (52.9%). However, a further analysis was conducted using the chi-square test (with Yates Continuity Correction) and it showed no significant difference between the fathers and mothers regarding purchasing educational robotics X2(1, n=22)=.32, p=.57, phi=.23. Almost all of the parents thought that the toy must be durable and had health standards (86%), and must be enjoyable (82%). Moreover, the majority of the parents stated that it must enable children to improve problem-solving skills (64%) and cognitive development (64%) while more than half thought that it must enable children to build cause-effect relationships (55%). Interestingly, while none of them preferred the individual play with the toy, less than half of the parents (27%) thought that it must promote social play. They also added some characteristics such as enabling creativity (N=7), customization (N=6), motor development (N=2), and decreasing screen time (N=8). In brief then, considering the inevitable advent of new educational technologies in children’s lives, the results of this research can be helpful not only for parents, the primary educators of the children, but also for the researchers and other stakeholders such as policymakers and industries.
Bers, M.U. (2008). Blocks to Robots: Learning with Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom; Teachers College Press: New York Bers, M.U. (2010). The TangibleK Robotics Program: Applied Computational Thinking for Young Children. Early Child. Res. Pract., 12, EJ910910. Bredekamp, S. (2011). Effective practices in early childhood education: Building a foundation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Donaldson, A., Knupfer, N. (2002). Education, Learning and Technology. In Rogers, P.(Eds.),Designing Instruction for Technology-Enhanced Learning (pp.19-54). Hershey, PA: Idea Group, Inc. Haugland, S.(2000).Computers and young children. (ERIC Documentation Service ED438926). Keren, G. & Fridin, M. (2014). Kindergarten Social Assistive Robot (KindSAR) for children’s geometric thinking and metacognitive development in preschool education: A pilot study. Comput. Hum. Behav, 35, 400–412. Marsh, J. (2010). Young children’s play in online virtual worlds. Journal of early childhood research, 8(1), 23-39. Misirli, A., & Komis, V. (2014). Robotics and programming concepts in Early Childhood Education: a conceptual framework for designing educational scenarios. In C. Karagiannidis, P. Politis & I. Karasavvidis (Eds), Research on e-Learning and ICT in Education (pp. 99–118). New York: Springer. Moyles, J. (1989) Just Playing?: Role and Status of Play in Early Childhood Education. Buckingham: Open University Press. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)&Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. (2012). “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8.” Joint position statement. Washington, DC: NAEYC Nieveen, N., & Folmer, E. (2013). Formative Evaluation in Educational Design Research In T.Plomp & N., Nieveen (Eds.), An introduction to educational design research. Enschede,The Netherlands: SLO. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon (MCB University Press), 9(5). Rogers, C., & Portsmore, M. (2004). Bringing engineering to elementary school. Journal of STEM Education, 5, 17-28. Sheridan, M. D., Howard, J., & Alderson, D. (2011). Play in Early Childhood: From birth to six. Taylor & Francis. Sullivan, A.A., Bers, U.M. & Mihm, C. (2017). Imagining, Playing, and Coding with KIBO: Using Robotics to Foster Computational Thinking in Young Children; Siu-cheung KONG The Education University of Hong Kong:ISBN 9789887703440. Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Educational technology research and development, 53(4), 5-23. Whitebread, D. (2010) Play, metacognition and self-regulation. In P. Broadhead, J. Howard and E. Wood (eds) Play and Learning in the Early Years. London: Sage. Wood, E. (2013). Play, learning and the early childhood curriculum. Sage.
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