“Mr McGee and Me – Arthur, doesn’t that sound like a great name for a book?”

When literacy marries technology in an early childhood setting, a child’s early exposure to digital technologies and traditional pedagogies is braided together. Not one or the other, but an intertwining of pedagogies to support children’s emerging language and literacy.

Arthur, aged 3, knows the Mr McGee stories by Pamela Allen. He has read them many times. With the help of technology, he reimagined the stories and created his own. He made Mr McGee dance across the page and walk down the street holding his hand. He played with rhyme and rhythm as he narrated the story, he re-told it, and confidently became the creator of media, not simply the consumer.

Digital literacy and using digital technologies to support language and literacy are two different things. Digital literacy is about the operational, cultural, and critical aspects of using digital technologies. It is important to know how to keep children safe online. To know what online means and to know what happens when something is shared digitally. These concepts form part of digital literacy. The video about technology from KU's 2024 Talking About Literature, Literacy and Language Online Symposium concentrates on using digital technologies to support children’s emerging language and literacy, an important, yet different set of skills.

The guiding principle to using technology to support literacy and language develop is reflective practice. As the schools of Reggio Emilia say, “Neither opposed nor enthusiastic, the position we have always adopted on digital is reflective.” (Bonilauri & Tedeschi (2019) Bordercrossings, p. 14​). This considered mindset of reflection is foundational to using technologies with young children. Before any app is opened or technology tool employed, traditional language and literature pedagogies should be a part of the culture of the environment.

When braiding digital and traditional technologies, time is an essential resource. Too often educators rush to an end point, with an idea in mind, or a technology to use. The process of thinking is stolen from children in the pursuit of creating something. Arthur’s re-imagining of Mr McGee took time. It is an example of slow pedagogy, where thinking takes priority over the product or the tool. His story is what happens when you sit and dwell in the unknown, when you listen for the ‘magic moment’ and sit doing ‘nothing really’.

To hear more about this topic, register for our online symposium:

Talking About Literacy, Literature and Language Online Symposium
Monday 27 May – Monday 17 June 2024

Early childhood is a crucial time for the development of language and literacy skills. This popular online symposium explores language and literacy in depth and includes access to a series of 8 pre-recorded videos which will be available to view at any time over a 3-week period.