*Innovations around the nations in educational technology*


Why I prefer no gadgets for educating children?


I have experienced educating toddlers through two different mediums. First, as a mother of two. Second, as a curriculum planner and teacher for a toddlers’ class in school. What gave me the thrill about teaching toddlers was the fact that we turned everyday use objects into learning tools. So plates and spoons were not only used to teach table manners, but also as musical instruments! Apples were not only for munching, but a primary and easy vocabulary building asset for the letter ‘Aa’, phonetically pronounced with a longer stay. Woolly clothes helped learn the soft texture, while building blocks were a source of multiple learning: numbers, motor skills, shapes, area, creativity and even social interaction.


I remember the sheer joy of kids when soaking their tiny hands in paint and clay and reproducing wonders for themselves and their parents. And we all marvelled at their dexterity when using sponges, knob holders and split open vegetables and fruits to enter a realm of learning through arts and crafts. These every day utensils and objects, along with purpose made teaching tools were a treasure for the chubby, wide eyed toddlers as well as their teachers. And their classrooms were as exciting as Aladdin’s cave, with new riches to explore and ideas to learn every day.


Now enters the age of technology. The tools remain, but a more flashy attraction in the form of electronic gadgets have hit the market. Jazzy tunes, vibrant colours, catchy rhymes and friendly characters impart basic concepts in exciting videos. Tiny fingers absorb an array of ideas when tapping the cool screens or chunky buttons and get the thrill one feels when riding a highly automated vehicle for the first time.


But with these gadgets, learning is more limited to visual and hearing. The hands-on experience which toddlers have when tracing alphabets in sands or printing capsicum slices can be seen and not felt when watching a video or simply pushing buttons. The transition may sure ease life for the instructor, for it reduces immensely the effort and time one puts in for preparation of manual crafts and activities. But the reduction also comes in development of motor skills, memory enhancement through physical activity and more importantly, one to one coordination between the teacher and the student.


Call it old fashioned or rather old school of thought, but I would still prefer the colourful and vibrant world of arts and crafts and verbal repetition of sounds and rhymes rather than a cold, technological gadget, wrapping all experiences in one. An inclusion of the advancement would surely be recommended, since technology is the order of the world today. But total dependence may not be a great idea. After all, preschool is all about sensory experiencesand play and learn. For the tiny minds, building with blocks is like building a castle with their own hands. To create one by pressing a tab can be fascinating, but like building a castle in the air!