ERIC Identifier: ED291515
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Author: Hoot, James L. - Kimler, Michele
Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL.
Early Childhood Classrooms and Computers: Programs with
During the 1980s, computers achieved widespread use in classrooms for
young children. As we approach the 1990s, teachers are coming to realize that
the mere presence of these devices does not assure student learning. Unsupported
claims of early computer zealots are now giving way to a developing body of
research which can assist early childhood educators in making more justifiable
use of these technological tools in early childhood curricula. The digest which
follows discusses two uses of computers which, based upon recent research,
appear especially productive as learning tools in classrooms -- word processing
and Logo programming.
Those who work with very young children are aware that children are generally
quite effective in making themselves understood. Their language is very much
alive, fresh, creative, and often unpredictable. While children's verbal
language possesses tremendous potential for communicative competence, because of
their lack of motor facility they have less potential for achieving equal
competence in written communication.
Over the past five years, word processors specifically designed for children
just breaking into print have been developed. Experts are finding that these
programs can support beginning writers in many ways; for example, word
--Provides visual, motor, and sometimes auditory, supports for
unsophisticated learners. --Often encourages learners to write more since the
mechanical drudgery traditionally associated with writing is minimized.
--Encourages writers to focus on the content of what is said rather than the
form or technical aspects of writing. --Increases the likelihood that children
will revise text-- a key process in effective writing. --Provides products that
are printed with a letter-quality appearance that encourages children to share
written communication (e.g., stories for the library, signs, banners, books).
--Involves writing on a computer screen which is visible to passersby. This
public nature of word processing encourages social interaction in writing.
--Makes writing especially appealing to limited English proficient and special
needs children. --Encourages positive attitudes toward learning in many
RECENT AND NEAR-FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
Over the past couple of years, word processors which actually "speak" text
created by children have become available. Initial research suggests these
devices are highly motivational and promote improved understanding of the
relationships of letter and sound, and of word and sentence. In addition to
"talking" word processors, programs are under development and will soon be
available which create written text directly from spoken words. Thus, the
richness of children's language may be captured without the necessity of typing
LOGO AND THE CLASSROOM
Logo is a highly sophisticated graphics-oriented programming language
developed specifically for children. Logo, which was introduced into classrooms
about seven years ago, is specially designed to enable children to become active
participants in learning. To date, researchers believe that:
--Logo programming develops problem-solving abilities. More specifically,
such programming develops procedural problem-solving skills in which larger
problems are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
--Logo facilitates assimilation of basic geometric and mathematicalconcepts.
Some researchers have even indicated success in using Logo to introduce concepts
often considered too difficult for primary children.
--Children collaborate more when working on computer problems than when
working on other classroom tasks.
--Learning how to plan well is not intrinsically guaranteed by the Logo
programming environment, and such learning must be supported by teachers who
know how to foster the development of planning skills.
--Logo may enhance social development of children. The Logo environment may
encourage children to learn to cooperate, listen, and be critical in a
constructive fashion, and to appreciate the work of others.
--Children who are working with Logo engage in more self-directed
explorations, exhibit more pleasure at discovery, use verbal and other types of
problem solving strategies more often, and make greater improvement in attitudes
to learning than do children who do not use Logo.
--Logo provides an environment which encourages divergent thinking and
--Students using Logo tend to improve in overall cognitive, social, and
--Logo promotes development of the ability to describe directions (spatial
--Logo is especially effective in motivating children with special needs.
WORD PROCESSING, LOGO, AND CLASSROOM TEACHERS
Current literature tends to demonstrate consistency concerning the importance
of the classroom teacher. The teacher has been found to be the single most
influential determinant of success in creating problem-solvers through the use
of Logo or improving the written communicative competence of children with word
processing. Effective teachers have an understanding of both the power and
limitations of these programs for children. Moreover, these teachers are
well-grounded in knowledge of the cognitive processes being developed and of
In the next decade, the use of computers as a learning tool will become even
more prevalent. It will be necessary, therefore, for educators to become
increasingly aware of what computers can and cannot do for the educational
development of children. In this digest we have summarized developing research,
which, though it is far from definitive, is beginning to confirm the merits of
using word processing and Logo in the early childhood curriculum.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Campbell, P. and G. Fein (eds.). YOUNG CHILDREN AND MICROCOMPUTERS. Englewood
Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1986.
Clements, D. "Computers and Young Children: A Review of Research." YOUNG
CHILDREN 43 (1987): 34-44.
Clements, D. COMPUTERS IN EARLY AND PRIMARY EDUCATION. Englewood Cliffs:
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1986.
Hawkings, J., M. Homolsky, and P. Heidi. "Paired Problem-Solving in a
Computer Context." Bank Street College of Education, NY: Center for Children and
Technology, Technical Report No. 33, l984.
Hoot, J. (ed.). COMPUTERS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: ISSUES AND PRACTICES.
Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1986.
Hoot, J. and S. Silvern (eds.). WRITING WITH COMPUTERS IN THE EARLY GRADES.
New York: Teachers College Press, 1988.
Pea, R. D. and D. M. Kurland. "Programming and the Development of Planning
Skills." Bank Street College of Education, NY: Center for Children and
Technology, Technical Report No. 16, l984.
Phenix, J. and E. Hannan. "Word Processing in the Grade One Classroom."
LANGUAGE ARTS 61 (1984): 804-812.
Uri, L. "Logo Today: Vision and Reality." THE COMPUTING TEACHER 12 (1985):
Watson, J., S. Chadwick, and V. Brinkley. "Special Education Technologies for
Young Children: Present and Future Learning Scenarios with Related Research
Literature." JOURNAL OF THE DIVISION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD 10 (1986): 197-208.
Weir, S. CULTIVATING MINDS: A LOGO CASEBOOK. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.