Early childhood professor wins national technology award

“Teachers can use smart phones and tablets every day to take photos, record video and audio, and make notes, then integrate them into daily blogs and online portfolios that parents can access.” —Will Parnell, 2012

“Teachers can use smart phones and tablets every day to take photos, record video and audio, and make notes, then integrate them into daily blogs and online portfolios that parents can access.” —Will Parnell, 2012

The National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) has bestowed upon Professor Will Parnell the 2012 Technology Leadership in Early Childhood Education award for community engagement, teaching, and research. His 2012 publication with co-author Jackie Bartlett, iDocument: How smart phones and tablets are changing documentation in preschool and primary classrooms, in the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) journal Young Children serves as the catalyst for this award.

The president of NAECTE, Sara Davis, said, “Will’s ability to help students construct a bridge between technology and documenting to make learning visible is amazing! Adults are not always comfortable with technology, but Will’s expertise makes them realize that technology is their friend and not an obstacle to overcome.”

Dr. Parnell and Ms. Bartlett’s article demonstrates many “smart” ways that teachers can use technology in the classroom to document, record, and observe learning and development in the youngest students. Smart phones and tablets have made it much easier to instantly preserve lessons and student work for later retrieval. They emphasize recording the learning process rather than the product.

“The work Will has done with teachers, children, and technology has not gone unrecognized,” said Ms. Davis. “The iDocument article clearly describes exactly what it is like to use technology in a classroom; both the pragmatic aspects and the theoretical reasons. For some people, one of the arguments against focusing on technology might be that people are jumping on a bandwagon of simply supplying classrooms with the latest technology. However, Will’s work with teachers proves that there are excellent reasons for classrooms to be supplied with technology. In fact, this article has been so well received that NAEYC has republished it in one of their spotlight publications. It is now featured in Spotlight on Technology in Early Childhood Education in June 2012. The article is an example of how Will’s ability as a teacher educator extends into the everyday life of the classroom and how his ability to write about this collaboration with others makes him the best candidate for the Technology award.”

Associate Professor Will Parnell is the program coordinator for the Curriculum and Instruction Early Childhood Education Specialization and co-coordinator of the Graduate Teacher Education Program.

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