On April 21st, the U.S. Department of Education came together with the White House and numerous public and private partners to announce our shared commitment to improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in early learning (Preschool – 3rd Grade). Early engagement in STEM is critical for our youngest learners because opportunity gaps in STEM can begin prior to preschool—and they can continue grow as students progress through school. There are a host of ways that the public and private sectors can partner to better address this STEM opportunity gap in early learning, such as integrating STEM with the arts and literacy, and using education technologies including screen media (e.g., television, computers, videogames, tablets). We believe that the use of technology can be an important tool for closing these gaps when used intentionally and appropriately in conjunction with other forms of pedagogy.
The U.S. Department of Education would like to initiate a discussion with the early learning and STEM communities on how best to engage and support parents, caregivers, educators, researchers and developers on how to eliminate opportunity gaps in early childhood STEM education, especially by leveraging education technologies. This conversation will inform federal policy decisions in the coming months.
Call to Action:
We ask early childhood educators and researchers, in particular, to help address these fundamental questions:
- Recommendations for screen media use in early childhood vary. It is difficult for educators, parents and caregivers to make informed decisions about which content is effective and how and when to use it. For example, how can educators, parents and caregivers best determine what content is age-appropriate?
- How can we make it easier for educators, parents and caregivers to select applications that are high quality and proven effective? What research gaps do we need to address to inform these types of decisions?
- How do we effectively support professional development (PD) for educators to facilitate the effective use of education technologies to close STEM opportunity gaps in early learning settings? How can education technologies help provide effective PD?
- How can we help media developers address the needs of diverse students and those with special needs to increase student engagement, and to promote social emotional learning?
- How can we bridge the opportunity gaps between STEM education, literacy, and the arts? What, if any, is the role of technology and screen media in these efforts?
Please submit your comments and questions in this open forum by 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, May 13, 2016. We seek open and robust discussion of these issues so that we can improve education outcomes for all young children and provide effective guidance for parents, caregivers, and educators.
Recommended Reading (in chronological order):
Media Use By Children Younger Than 2 Years
American Academy of Pediatrics (2011)
Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8
Fred Rogers Center and NAEYC (2012)
Envisioning a Digital Age Architecture for Early Education
New America Foundation (2014)
Tech in the Early Years: What Do We Know and Why Does It Matter?
Fred Rogers Center (2014)
Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight
Zero to Three (2014)
Getting a Read on the App Stores : A Market Scan and Analysis of Children’s Literacy Apps
Joan Ganz Cooney Center (2015)
Beyond Turn it off: How to Advise Families on Media Use
American Academy of Pediatrics (2015)
Apps en familia: Guía para usar apps con tus hijos
Joan Ganz Cooney Center (2015)
Use of Technology to Support Early Childhood Practice: Full Report
Health and Human Services Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (2015)
Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Lower-Income Families
Joan Ganz Cooney Center (2016)
Note: These resource materials are provided for the user’s convenience. The inclusion of these materials is not intended to reflect its importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered. These materials may contain the views and recommendations of various subject matter experts as well as hypertext links, contact addresses and websites to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. The opinions expressed in any of these materials do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any outside information included in these materials.
Thank you for your comments. The comment period is now closed. Please join our list serv at www.ed.gov/early-learning for updates and progress on the joint statement.