Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shooting for the Stars...Technology can Help!

The Keystone STARS report recently identified technology as an important factor in the quality of care at early childhood education facilities.

Keystone STARS, an initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Education (OCDEL) to improve the continuous quality improvement efforts of Pennsylvania’s early learning and school-age programs, recently released a best practices for financial award spending report and came up with some interesting findings.

Technology & Early Childhood Education
Particularly, their findings on technology and computer access are crucial to the success of both childcare businesses, parent satisfaction and childrens' futures. The quality of early childhood education is more than just the classroom and parent involvement, but also the technology that staff has access to. At the very least, early childhood education centers should have one functional computer with internet access and printing capabilities, but there’s so much more that better technology could offer.

Best Practices
Better practice would have multiple computer stations for educators to use, and better yet, the computers would be networked to keep track of family information. In addition, email usage is critical, as email is becoming the preferred method of contact, especially for busy parents on the go.

According to the report, “The use of a childcare management software solution can greatly enhance a program’s ability to manage data, meet reporting requirements and monitor fiscal status.” However, some childcare management software can be very pricey. Even with a financial award, there is only so much money to delegate to technology in order to cover other needs.

Software vs. The Cloud
Rather than buying expensive software and having to install it on multiple computers on a network, web-based applications such as the Tadpoles Pro app, are offered for little to no cost. In addition to providing an easy-to-use daycare management system, the app offers functionality to send parents updates in the forms of pictures, videos and reports throughout the day. Some early childhood education facilities may send parents an e-newsletter every once in awhile, but this process can be time consuming and cumbersome. Rather than sending a generic e-mail, each parent can receive child-specific information, which takes much less time for childcare providers than traditional e-newsletters.

Does Technology Improve Early Childhood Education?
Do you think the use of technology in early childhood education centers can make for a better child, parent and teacher experience? Let us know what you think by commenting here or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

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