Texas Library Association Annual Conference

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Toddlers, Touch Technology, and Family Learning

Presented by the staff at El Paso Community College at Northwest

Slideshow Presentation

This community college library works closely with the public library. They are the only academic library to issue library cards to the general public. They saw a need in their community for a technology-based storytime and a need to change the idea that children should have no part to play in technology. Children are natives to technology now, and are acclimating faster than ever.

With funds from a grant, iPads,SMART Tables, Hot Dots, and Early Learning Stations from AWE. The program also uses DVDs of picture books, on-line stories, and hard copies of books.

Every program begins with reading a book to the group. The room is set up into stations, and after the book is over, the children are invited to choose where they would like to go. Each technology has its own station.

IPads are by far the favorite station to visit, but only one child at a time may use one. Use is only allowed at a table. The graphics are exceptional, and children can easily learn how to operate it with little help from adults. Each device is $499, and are fragile. The devices are time-consuming to set up and update the software. Extra money will need to be spent on cases and downloaded apps.

The SMART Tables can be used by up to eight children at a time, but it is recommended to keep participation to four. The tables are very sturdy and sustain almost no damage. They come with pre-programmed software, but the software can be customized. Original software can be written and installed. Unfortunately, the graphics already appear outdated and it is extremely hard to find software packs with every app that is needed. The tables cost $6,000 each, and because there must be a trained facilitator at each table, using the tables will cost additional staff hours.

After implementing the program, the library staff saw a dramatic increase in circulation, visits to the library, and at-home reading.

Recommendations:

1. The technology is not recommended for use with children under two years.

2. Any technology used must be developmentally appropriate.

3. Remember to factor in the cost of extraneous materials such as cases, apps, etc.