An OES Boston event

On August 3, the Oxford Education Society and the Oxford Cambridge Society of New England hosted a panel and reception at the British Consulate in Boston, Massachusetts.

Invited panellists included our very own Natalia Kucirkova, Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at the Open University, Professor Paul Harris, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Professor Barry Zuckerman, Professor and Chair Emeritus of Pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine / Boston Medical Center, and Maggie Van Camp (Pre-K) and Sandra Marquez (Kindergarten), Sheltered English Immersion Teachers for the Boston Public Schools.

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Approximately 65 people attended this event organized by Natalia and Elizabeth Guckenheimer, OES Country Champion.  An exchange of research and ideas occurred among researchers, teachers, professors, parents, developers, and policy makers.  Some of the questions asked included:  How does co-viewing differ from book sharing?  Does the emotional connection between parent and child differ?  What are the cognitive, linguistic, emotional, and social benefits of technology in early childhood?   How does technology in the home influence delivery of instruction in the classroom?  Does at-home screen time hinder classroom instruction, which uses a modest amount of technology?  What are the implications of using the expression, ‘parents as teachers’ for differing ethnicities?  How or where do we teach digital citizenry?  Should policymakers encourage ‘technology guidelines’ similar to ‘food guidelines’ offered?   How effective is classroom tablet use in developing countries with extremely limited classroom resources?  Are tablets advantageous surrogates in contexts where adults are unavailable to help children in their educational trajectory?

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Two prevailing themes emerged from the discussion:  the need for more research on the relationship between new technologies and children’s early development and the need for better quality apps with more didactic content that incites the imagination and moves beyond just skill and drill.

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The panel was followed by a lovely reception filled with food, fellowship, and follow-up discussions.  An expression of appreciation goes out to organizers, panelists, the British Consulate, and attendees for contributing to a successful gathering on a germane topic and inevitable reality –the increase of technology use among the very young!

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