The ROBOT project partners Free University of Bolzano (Italy) and Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania), represented by Prof. Ulrike Stadler-Altmann and prof. Lina Kaminskienė took part in the annual international conference on early childhood education ECEER (European Early Childhood Education Research Association) in Glasgow, Scotland.
Together with Prof. Helen Knauf (FH Bielefeld, Germany), the researchers organised a symposium entitled Playing and Working with AI in ECE. Attitudes and Concerns of Pedagogical Professionals. The aim of the symposium was to present the results of the study conducted in the framework of the EU project "I'm not a robot" and to show the attitudes of educators towards the use of digital tools in kindergarten pedagogy. Following within-case, country-specific and cross-case, cross-national analyses, different emphases on the value of technology were found in the sample, leading to different goals for practice. At the same time, a European comparison of ECE in the use of digital media in the three countries involved was possible. This revealed surprising similarities, but also culturally determined differences in Italy, Germany, Lithuania and Denmark.
The research results revealed how digital media are integrated into teachers' pedagogical practice in the classroom in different countries. The main conclusions of the study show that for a successful diffusion of digitalisation in the kindergarten sector, the provision of digital media should take place in parallel with teacher training and some support from specialists, consultants, equipment providers and others is needed. Starting the use of digital media early in the educational process contributes positively to the frequency and diversity of children's use of digital media in education. This case is particularly clear from the research findings from Denmark. The knowledge and skills deficit of teachers in robotics, programming and related areas should be addressed through in-service training and collaboration with colleagues. The knowledge and skills of using digital media and responding to learners' additional needs should be improved. Teachers' awareness and positive attitudes towards digital media and AI in early education need to be strengthened.
All these challenges are addressed by a newly developed teaching and learning material, a toolbox, for early childhood institutions. The ROBOT partners have identified and developed twelve modules aimed at learning the basics of AI through creativity, problem solving and research-based learning approaches.
More information about the ECEER: 2022.eeceraconference.org
Written by Lina Kaminskienė & Ulrike Stadler-Altmann