Some pre-kindergarteners in Rome are adding tablet computers to their books, finger paints, pencils and blocks in the classroom.
The young students at the Rebecca Blaylock Child Development Center have started learning letters, colors and other early skills on the Nook e-reader. Teachers started using the tablets a couple of weeks ago. They direct the lessons while students work in small groups with the touchscreen devices.
The center's executive director, Janice Merritt, said she has to make use of every possible tool to educate her students.
“I think it’s also a disservice not to introduce them to the future that they’re going to eventually be responsible for. So if I can give them that one leg before leaving here, going into kindergarten, I think we should do that for them,” Merritt said.
She said the Nooks are simply another way to help students learn. She hopes to eventually use them for individualized lessons so students can move at their own pace. She also envisions one day using them to teach the four-year-olds basic Spanish words.
There are advantages to using such devices with such young children, said University of Georgia professor T.J. Kopcha, who studies integrating technology into the classroom. But he said we don’t know yet how effective tools like the Nook or other tablet computers are.
“One thing that we do know is that there are key student-teacher interactions that really help support student learning, and I think it’s when we focus on how technology can help continue doing those student-teacher interactions -- or even improve on those interactions -- that you’re most likely to capitalize on the potential of this device,” Kopcha said.
He said it’s becoming increasingly common to see Nooks or other tablets like the iPad used in classrooms because they’re easy for kids to use and can supplement other learning tools.