TECHNOLOGY IN EARLY YEARS EDUCATION – AN INDEPTH LOOK AT THE GEN ALPHAS

My five-year-old son understands game designs and can navigate through a new game consul on his own without help! He actually figured out my phone unlock code at age 3!

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My five year old son understands game designs and can navigate through a new game consul on his own without help! He actually figured out my phone unlock code at age 3! Smart. Isn’t he? Not really. He is just a digital native born into the world of artificial intelligence and digitized learning environment. With all his strengths in navigating tech tools, my son’s reading skill isn’t at par.

I do not feel surprised anymore when I meet 3 year olds talking about abstract concepts like the solar system and quantum physics using their favourite cartoon characters. They seem not to be interested in lullabies and bedtime stories as much as we were interested then. They only love bedtime stories that discuss how something new was created from nothing rather than romantic fairytales. They love Science and Math more than ever especially hands-on activities. So what’s so special about this set of humans who seem to be more interested in technology from birth than just building sandcastles? What do educators need to learn from them to inspire more learning in them?

Perhaps the time has come to truly understand the emerging generation: Generation Alpha. A generation of children who have been born into a world of technology, introduced to the iPad or computer at a very early age – children who know not a world without internet. Understanding this group of children will enable the early years educator discover new ways of teaching and making learning fun in the learning space.

  

How are the Gen Alphas different? What kind of tools excite them?

PLAY FOR GENERATION ALPHAS

Play time for the Gen Alphas involves the use of digital tools such as tablets, game consuls, phones and the almighty TELEVISION. They love exploring through online games, music and seem more comfortable being the digital space. This doesn’t mean that they do not love outdoors as well. However, this set of children easily get bored with plain outdoor activities that does not infuse a bit of technology. For instance, a gen alpha child will play on a slide for some time but will get excited when they see a game play station after a while. The virtual world excites them.

Gen Z and Gen Alpha Infographic Update - McCrindle

LEARNING TIME

Generation Alphas are more practical learners and are more inquisitive than all the previous generations. Their major method of learning is experiential learning and they feel more motivated when there is a tech tool or process in their learning. Imagine learning to trace a letter using an online drawing tool or learning sounds through audio repeats games. A generation Alpha child would rather explore a virtual reality before drawing or painting. Imagine a classroom where the young learners explore a virtual environment before trying out physical tasks. That class would be so exciting and filled with motivated learners.

So should we discard the traditional methods of early years education? Certainly not! Children at that age range still require experiential learning for brain development. They need to use their five senses to explore their physical environment and 

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