Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Creating an ICT area

ICT doesn't just mean to make ICT work for you in a child care environment

It is a common misconception by practitioners that having a computer in your setting means you have covered ICT! There is so much more to ICT than meets the eye, as I found out when studying for a report for my Foundation degree, 2 years ago.

The Rose review in 2009, underlined the importance of the use of ICT to allow children to become confident in their use of technology by the time they reach the end of primary school. In the current economic climate, many child care settings may be finding it hard to fund the required provision for ICT. Many schools are lucky enough to gain access to funds for ICT equipment, a luxury which many privately owned Pre schools and nurseries do not have.

Having a range of programmable toys and computers may seem as an unreachable target by some settings, and they could find it hard to prioritise this sort of equipment when there are so many other pieces of equipment needed within a setting.

ICT equipment can be provided in a range of areas within a setting, as well as within a computer area. For example: A CD player in the music area, calculators for problem solving, Reasoning and Numeracy or electronic typewriters in the mark making area. It can all become part of a settings continuous provision, enhancing children's learning throughout rather than within one area. I have worked in a setting where the ICT provision was just an ICT box. By understanding that ICT can be used in all areas, we removed the box and had our equipment in all areas instead.

So, what are the "Solutions" to finding ICT equipment at a reasonable price?

1 Borrowing : Some settings have a lending scheme where ICT equipment can be swapped on a regular basis. This is a great idea, as each setting could have a few items which can be borrowed and swapped around for children to be able to explore a wide range of equipment.

2. Parent donations : Parents can be asked whether or not they have any old mobile phones, laptops, remote control cars and the like to donate to the setting for children to explore.

3. Car boot sales : Can be a treasure chest for practitioners to find a range of battery operated toys and equipment such as keyboards, torches, calculators and other technology related items, for a fraction of the price that they would be in catalogues! It is important to ensure that the equipment bought at car boot sales are working correctly and are clean before being made available to the children.

4. Internet sites : Some bargains can be found on online market place websites. Again, it is important to ensure the equipment is safe before giving to children.

5. Funding from local businesses: Find out if there are local computer businesses which could either provide ICT equipment at discounted prices, or help to fund your ICT program. They may even donate equipment to your setting. Businesses from time to time update their equipment and so may sell or offer free use of the old equipment.

6. ICT Walks : Even if you cannot afford a wide range of ICT equipment, An ICT walk around your local area can provide a range of talking points for children. A simple trip to the shops unveils scanners, closed circuit TV and digital weighing machines! Not to mention the pedestrian crossings!!

ICT is not more important than other areas of provision, but should be seen as just as vital as what is provided throughout a setting for children's learning and development.

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