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I am trying to come to grips as to how to utilize web 2.0 in an early childhood education (ECE) program .  New tools such as blogs, wikis and social networking should be  ideal instruments to help young children express themselves and make connections with others across the globe. With these new web tools there seems to be a bull in the china shop, privacy and protecting our little ones, that we must deal with before moving forward.

I’ll start with a fairly safe web 2.0 tool, wikis. Over at Always Learning I discovered of an interesting little wiki where children are using voice thread to share drawings and comments with children around the world, KinderKidsDraw. Wiki’s can be a safe place for children to store work and have a selected audience. I  see a lot of possibilities with parent communication using wikis and I would love to find some examples. Though wikis seem good for closed community activities I still like the idea of blogging for opening an ECE classroom to the world.

When I think about what blogs have to offer my current group of students, 5-6 year olds, my mind begins to race with all the possibilities. Over at ICTECE I am  inspired by a wonderful post about the possibilities of blogging in children’s education. I would love for my students to show the world who they are and what they can do using the tool of blogs. Blogging allows for the creator and the viewer to have a conversation, something that should happen more in all of education. Unfortunately having an open blog puts  images and names of children together on the web for all to see, traditionaly a taboo in education. There is a part of me that thinks walling off (password or invite only protection) a child’s blogs  keeps children from experiencing  a large part of what blogging has to offer. It seems web 2.0 in an ECE program still has to deal with some age old questions…When does protecting our children interfere with their learning? Or…When does learning interfere with protecting our children?

If you would like to read more on blogging safely with children you can visit HERE.

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At the moment I am pretty excited about the potential of IT in my classroom. One of my biggest reservations I had in the past, the antisocial pull computers can have on young learners, is beginning to fall by the wayside with web 2.0. Computers have gone from being a place where students play games in an early childhood classroom to being a tool students use to better learn about their world. Now with social networking, user generated content and computers in all of my student’s homes I see many more opportunities than I did years ago.

In the classroom I have started to move the students away from using computers as a mere game console. We have been using MS Word to make signs & posters and we just started a podcast channel where we share some of our songs and poems with our school and home communities.

Blogs and wikis seem like a great way to make home/school connections. I just read a blog from a school in New Zealand, Manaia Kindergarten, where they make blogs with student content. I really like the idea of having a stuffed animal from school visit the student’s home and then making a video blog showing the visit. Now it is time for me to learn how to do some video editing.

Making connections with other early childhood education professionals around the globe is one of my main goals for this blog. Being new to the blog scene is exciting and there seems to be many more doors for me to open in the web 2.0 world. Over the years I have had mixed feelings about using computers and IT in an early childhood setting, but I see those doubts slipping away more every day.

Let’s get this blog started,

Steve

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