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Kita digital: how tablets and smartphones can enrich education

Digital media are on the agenda in the Winterstraße kindergarten in Hamburg. This morning, in the hallway, three girls are playing puzzles on tablets in a seating area. The research room next door is dark. A video projector launches a digital picture book about animals on the wall. Together with a dozen children, an educator talks about the parrots. And in the space of the installation, the educator Martin Imiolczyk and his group are currently producing a stop-motion film on the construction of a Duplo pyramid. An extra tablet creates every second photo of the yard.

Who now has an image of the continuous medial sound of the eyes, is wrong. Furthermore, the nursery movement room is well filled. And the three girls lost interest after a puzzle game and went ahead. The tablets remain unused for the next few hours. A trip planned in the city park far outweighs the technology in terms of attractiveness.

While in the meantime a social consensus has emerged on the meaning of digital education and with the digital pact billions of dollars are finally invested in technical infrastructures and pedagogical concepts, digital digital asylum is still in its infancy. An important reason for this: many educators and parents still consider asylum as a sort of analogical refuge. Too often, the horror is served by children parked in front of the tablet, by children who have lost their natural interest in nature, friends and exercise.

Digital devices are fascinating for children, although adults often see the nursery as a shelter without tablets and smartphones

Emma Innocenti / Getty Images

Digital devices are fascinating for children, although adults often see the nursery as a shelter without tablets and smartphones

Benjamin Wockenfuß directs the Digikids prevention project, which supports parents and media education professionals. He believes that a generalized refusal is counterproductive, because it prevents a differentiated dispute. "Don't blind the eye to the fact that digital media are part of today's childhood, so it's even more important to teach children digital skills and a self-determined media deal in the beginning," he says.

"A tablet is neither good nor bad"

Digital education in the day center does not consist of putting girls and boys in front of the tablet and drinking coffee while relaxing, which happens quite often at home. What is needed is a creative and creative approach to tablets and Co., which meets the interests and needs of children. "A tablet alone is neither good nor bad, it is more about creating added value for children, which requires pedagogical concepts and good support from professionals," says Wockenfuß.

As such an added value can appear in the life of the asylum can be seen in a couple of examples of projects of the Winterstraße in Hamburg. Then the stop-motion film on the pyramid becomes part of an interactive illustrated book. In it the children see a real pyramid from Egypt. In addition, Martin Imiolczyk spoke in the morning of a child-friendly explanation of the ancient buildings.

The tablets are also taken regularly during nature walks. Together with an endoscope, for example, the children examined and photographed the tree cavities in the city park. On another journey, they recorded the sounds of the life of the Hanseatic birds. Later, the little explorers can share their findings with their peers.

But so far such projects in German kindergartens are the exception rather than the rule. Franziska Cohen of the Department of Early Childhood Education at the Freie Universität in Berlin states: "We are still relatively at the beginning of digital education in the day center, and there are no viable concepts, networks, technical infrastructures and training opportunities".

Even in the search for accompaniment there is still room for improvement – for example, so far little is known about how day care center processes and structures are changed by digital media. The infant pedagogue itself is involved in a new research project that aims to analyze the attitude of pedagogical professionals towards digitization. In the end, practical guidelines and seminars on digital education will be developed.

"In principle, we are on an equal footing with all our school discoveries and debates ten years ago," Franziska Cohen self-criticizes. In the professional world, there are still controversial discussions about the meaning and absurdity of digital education in kindergarten. At the same time, the first porters take their own journey of discovery.

Try it yourself

One of these is the Fröbel Education and Training gGmbH in Berlin. Even the winter road of the Hamburg kindergarten belongs to this carrier. Almost two years ago, the company launched a "Media Multipliers" program, with internal training on data protection, child safety, parenting and technology – and a regular exchange of experiences between institutions.

The starting signal for the digital program was given by a weekend of experimentation in Berlin. 3D printers, tablets, cameras, videoprojectors: all this has been tested for fitness for the daily care of children. Martin Imiolczyk was there from the beginning, he has already written his educational thesis for educators in 2016 on the use of media in children. "We are still in the middle of the identification phase and at the moment we are always trying new possibilities, rejecting a lot and improving what is going well," says the 28-year-old. At the moment, the trial and error is also the "only option" because good textbooks, suitable seminars or just advice on apps for the life of a nursery are still scarce.

More recently, the day care center bought a Nintendo Labo in Winter Street. This extension of the switch console connects the analog and digital worlds and is designed to bring technology closer to children, with cardboard. This allows you to build pianos and gas pedals as well as virtual reality glasses.

Upcoming parents of the target group

Before the console was tested with the children, the educator, together with their colleagues, had had an idea of ​​the possibilities. Imiolczyk tests apps for recording animal sounds or shooting at home. In the near future, the educator wants to share even more his experiences – not only with colleagues and other institutions, but also with his parents.

"On the one hand, I want to reduce concerns and concerns on the part of parents, from the other, I also want to give advice for digital family life," says Martin Imiolczyk, "many ideas like a stop-motion film or the Recording of animal sounds can also implement well in leisure time. "

That one can spend his time on the smartphone not only with Netflix and Instagram, but also in a creative and productive way, should be a very exciting vision for many parents.