The Value of Technology in Educating Young Children

Are young children well suited to the use of technology? Modern technologies are very powerful because they rely on one of the most powerful genetic biases we do have – the preference for visually presented information. The human brain has a tremendous bias for visually presented information. Television, movies, videos, and most computer programs are very visually oriented and therefore attract and maintain the attention of young children. When young children sit in front of television for hours, they fail to develop other perceptions. But the technologies that benefit young children the greatest are those that are interactive and allow the child to develop their curiosity, problem solving and independent thinking skills.

Technology plays a key role in all aspects of American life which will only increase in the future. As technology has become more easy to use, the usage of it by children has simultaneously increased. Early childhood educators have a responsibility to critically examine the impact of technology on children and be prepared to use technology to benefit children. Children educators must be more responsible in bringing a change in the lives of children and their families.

There are several issues related to the use of technology by young children:

• the essential role of teacher in evaluating in evaluating appropriate use of technology.
• the amalgamation of technology in early childhood programs
• stereotyping and violence in software
• equitable access to technology
• implication of technology for professional development
• role of teachers and parents as advocates

A teacher’s role is critical in making good decisions regarding the use of technology in order to achieve potential benefits. Choosing the correct software is quite similar to choosing the perfect set of books for a classroom. Teachers should take the advantage of computers to introduce new teaching and development strategies. Computers are intrinsically compelling for young children. The sound and graphics attract a child’s attention. An appropriate software engages children in creative play, mastery learning, problem solving, and conversation. Children control the pacing and the action. They can repeat a process or activity as often as they like and experiment with variations. They can collaborate in making decisions and share their discoveries and creations. Well-designed early childhood software grows in dimension with the child, enabling her to find new challenges as she becomes more proficient. Appropriate visual and verbal prompts designed in the software expand play themes and opportunities while leaving the child in control. Vast collections of images, sounds, and information of all kinds are placed at the child’s disposal. Software can be made age appropriate even for children as young as three or four. This shows that technology can enhance a child’s cognitive and social abilities. It provides a window to a child’s thinking.

Every classroom has its own guiding philosophies, values, themes and activities. Early childhood educators should promote equitable access to technology for all children and their families. Modern technologies are very powerful as they rely on one of the most powerful biases we have. The problem with this is that many of the modern technologies are very passive. Because of this they do not provide children with the quality and quantity of crucial emotional, social, cognitive, or physical experiences they require when they are young.

Unfortunately, technology is often used to replace social situations but it should be used to enhance human interactions. During the current decade, research has moved beyond simple questions about technology. Very young children are showing comfort and confidence in handling computers. They can turn them on, follow pictorial directions, and use situational and visual cues to understand and reason about their activity. Typing on the keyboard does not seem to cause them any trouble; in fact, it seems to be a source of pride. Thanks to recent technological developments, even children with physical and emotional disabilities can use the computer with ease. Besides enhancing their mobility and sense of control, computers can help improve self-esteem.

Thus the exclusive value of technology is no more in question. Research shows that what is solid for children is not merely what is physical but what is meaningful. Computer representations are often more manageable, flexible, and extensible. To add more there are a number of specialized programs that allow children with certain information-processing problems to get a multimedia presentation of content so that they can better understand and process the material. Even now there are a number of good software programs with a primary educational focus on mathematics or reading. These programs, which are very engaging, motivate children to read better and learn how to solve math problems. When information is presented in a fun and way, it is a lot easier than looking at a single page that has a bunch of columns of numbers you’re supposed to add up.

We are always in search for the magic wand that vanish and solve all our programs. And today the magic wand in our life is technology. It not only increases academic skill, reduce dropout rates but also diminishes the racial divide in academic performance. The danger, however, is that computers will be used only to reinforce the national trend toward earlier and more academic skill acquisition, and that other important developmental needs will be ignored. Moreover the fear will remain that developmental needs not met through technology will be ignored or radically compromised: physical play, outdoor exploration of the community and of nature; art, music and dance; learning specific social skills and moral values, and experiencing diversity in a myriad of ways.

In most of the early childhood programs and schools, technology will be part of the learning landscape of the future. To make sure this new technology is used effectively, we must assure that teachers are fully trained and supported, and that the programs and internet sites used are developmentally appropriate, non racist, non-biased against people with disabilities, and respect religious differences.

From Fiction To Reality The Evolution Of Beacon Technology

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, gradually turning every science fiction into reality. Beacon technology is one of those technological advancements, which was once a figment of the imagination of many researchers. Let’s have a look at how beacon technology is evolving and changing our business world.

What is a Beacon?

A Beacon is a tiny, battery-powered, wireless, low-cost sensor with a built-in Bluetooth chip device that works on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It allows Bluetooth enabled devices to receive data within short distances.

Beacon device is designed in such a way that it is easy to fix anywhere and can be efficiently used by everyone. It continuously broadcasts a radio signal, and when a device receives this signal it reads the beacon’s ID and triggers the action in the smartphone app based on the proximity of the beacon. What makes a beacon technology different is its ability to “wake up” an app, which is not open but has been downloaded on the Smartphone.

Deep Dive into Beacon Technology

Most beacons use BLE technology / Bluetooth Smart Technology as it requires low energy consumption and low implementation cost. The technology only allows for small amounts of data transmission, and it is the reason most beacons only transmit their IDs.

Beacon IDs consists of three values:

Universally unique identifier (UUID)
Major value
Minor value

The purpose of transmitting the ID is to distinguish a beacon from all other beacons in a network. Major and Minor values are the integer values assigned to the beacon, for greater accuracy in identification. Beacon also carries information about its signal power to determine the proximity of the source.

iBeacon

iBeacon is a brand name created by Apple Inc., which was first presented at the World Wide Developer’s Conference in 2014 as part of Apple’s iOS 7. It is a technology innovation of Apple that has been implemented in the location framework in iOS 7 and newer operating systems. As described above, iBeacon uses BLE technology to sense proximity and transmit a UUID, which triggers an action in a compatible app or operating system.

Eddystone – A Game Changer

In response to iBeacons, Google came up with its beacon project called Eddystone on July 14, 2015, with more open and flexible approach. Eddystone is Google’s open-source, cross-platform BLE beacon format. While Apple’s iBeacon only works with iOS devices, Eddystone works with both Android and iOS devices. Unlike iBeacons, they broadcast not only their UUID but also pre-programmed web page URLs and thus don’t require the installation of specific apps. The URL could be a regular web page providing relevant information, for e.g. a beacon next to a restaurant can broadcast a link to a YouTube clip or their specialty menu. Certainly, Eddystone will bring in new IoT use cases.

Beacons Empowered

With this drastic rise in beacon technology, companies are investing in this technology to generate greater revenues. Here I have given a brief detail about how retail industry is utilizing and availing benefits of beacon technology.

Smart Retail

The rapidly growing e-Commerce industry has resulted in the decrease of footfall and in-store sales for both the small-time retailers and big brands. In-stores have understood that they have to mimic e-commerce in the areas of personalized offers and shopping experiences.

Thus, Retail is a critical area where beacons are expected to bring huge impact – from proximity marketing to contactless payments to in-store analytics. 85% of the retail industry is expected to leverage beacon technology by the end of the year 2016. Beacons may seem like hype today, but let’s have a glance at few of its revolutionary aspects.

Beacons send location awareness alerts, updates on merchandise/products, and promotional notifications to tempt a passerby to enter the store. It can also be used to analyse customers who walk past the store and their visit duration. This analysis will help in making strategic decisions on product display.

Beacons use in-store navigation and provide real-world analytics like:

The areas and items a customer likes to explore
Where a customer spent most of her/his time
What and when s/he makes a purchase
Most in-store rushed locations
In-store deserted locations
Busiest days of the store
Number of people who walk into their store per day

These data provides insight into customer behavior and store performance. This analysis will help the retailers to organize their products, prices and place their products in strategic locations on strategic days and time. By knowing the repeated visitors to the store, retailers can reward those customers with loyalty benefits for their purchase.

Beacon makes a customer’s in-store journey personalized and unique. It fetches data from the wish list of a customer and notifies him when he comes across that particular product. It also recommends products based on price, quality, and offers to provide better in-store experience.

The customers who have already set up their payment information through their smartphone can use a connected beacon and complete their purchase by processing their payment (a.k.a contactless payment) without waiting in long queues. When a payment is done, the stock will be automatically updated.

Understanding iBeacon Technology

iBeacon or Beacon as its sometimes known as, is a technology that allows mobile App users to listen for signals from beacons in the physical world. The iBeacon technology allows mobile Apps to deliver hyper-contextual content to users based on a location. This technology makes use of Bluetooth low energy.

Bluetooth Low Technology

This is technology that is used for transmitting data over short distances. From its name, this technology consumes very low energy. According to the creators of the App, the Bluetooth low technology can last up to 3 years on a single coin cell battery.

When it comes to cost, the technology is 60-80% cheaper than traditional Bluetooth.

Bluetooth low energy is ideal for simple applications that require small periodic transfers of data. Classic Bluetooth is the most preferred type of Bluetooth.

How iBeacon Works

As mentioned, the beacons installed in your phone listen to transmitted signals and respond accordingly when the phone comes into range. For example, if you pass a beacon in a shop, the retailer’s shop will display a special offer alert for you. If you visit a museum, the museum’s app will provide you with special information about the closest display.

iBeacon is a big deal as it allows brands, apps, and retailers to understand where the customers are in the brick and mortar environment. Since the involved parties know where the customers are, they are able to send valuable messages and advertisements in the customer’s phone.

How The Technology Differs From Other Technologies

There are a number of ways in which iBeacon differs from other location-based technologies. One of the differences is that iBeacon is a one way transmitter to the receiving device. You also must have installed the iBeacons app in your device for you to interact with the beacons.

Points To Note

Although, the iBeacon technology is designed to pass advertisements, the adverts won’t be a bother to you as the technology doesn’t send useless messages. Also, the technology won’t deliver notifications until a given threshold is attained.

If you are receiving a lot of notifications, you can stop them by changing the permissions. You can also stop the notifications by switching off Bluetooth or by uninstalling the iBeacon app.

Conclusion

This is what you need to know about iBeacon. Although, the technology was started with the aim of sending adverts and letting consumers know about available offers, it’s now being used for other functions such as money transfer.