Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pre-school Kids and Technology

A few weeks back I presented at TeachMeet Google held at Google's very funky Sydney headquarters. Three days before the event my wife informed me that she had parent-teacher night that evening i.e. I had the kids! This posed a minor problem, how was was I going to deliver my incredibly witty presentation 'Giggle - the funny side of Edtech' with Mr4 and Mr2 in tow? As a testament to the character of @leannecameron (or her sense of anarchy) she agreed to let me bring both boys along. Due to the tight security at Google's headquarters I needed to provide all of their details. In so doing each of them had their own Google TeachMeet name tag which was quite cute. Given that I had two pre-schoolers with me, in a moment of idealism (or stupidity) I decided to change my presentation to include them, plumbing for 'Giggle (and Hoot) - the funny pre-school side of Edtech' (in reference to the Aussie kids show Giggle and Hoot).

All I had to do was keep them occupied and quiet for 50 minutes until our slot. At first this seemed too easy with Mr2 asleep and Mr4 preoccupied with the charms of a very helpful and selfless +annajones. However, Mr2 awoke almost immediately... 

As his sonic furore started to gear up I panicked. Instead of grabbing an emergency chuppa chups I grabbed the iPad and played Peppa Pig on YouTube, moving us to just outside the door. The good thing was he quietened down and before my very eyes taught himself how to find and launch YouTube (previous he would only press on apps, then the home button, then another app, and so on). On the bad side he became addicted to the iPad.

It was about this time that our turn came. I grabbed the iPad from the grasp of Mr2 and marched him and Mr4 to the stage. Cue massive tantrums to get the iPad back with screams of "PEPPA! PEPPA!". Just after I set up my iPad on the lectern and had begun introducing ourselves Mr 2, still screaming "PEPPA!", tried to to jump up to the lectern, grabbing whatever wires he could almost wrecking Google's AV equipment!!! And so began our very quick presentation of 6 slides (see below). 

#1 - Title (including Hoot the Owl) 

#2 - In describing Mr4's experience of technology I asked him how he spoke to Granny and Grandad every weekend on the other side of the world. His very cute answer was "On the 'puter"

#3 - I then asked him what his favourite game was ("Zombies"); what the sun were for and why he had to collect them. His sequence of answers was a great example of GBL problem solving.

#4 - Getting a bit more conventional in the educational use of technology I asked Mr4 to explain the Planets app and how we can see it is daytime in England when it is nighttime in Australia.

#5 - Rounding off Mr4's experience of technology I showed a talking animals video from the BBC (one of his favourites). The funny thing was the audio didn't work at first so Mr4 literally impersonated the marmots saying "Alan! Alan! Alan! No, Steve! Steve! Steve". Then the audio kicked in, much to his  appreciation. In time, I want to use films like this to get him to improvise. As it was, he essentially did just that on the night.

#6 - All the while I'd been indulging in Mr4, Mr2 was roaming around looking for Peppa. It was only fair therefore to include him. Until the overindulgence earlier with Peppa Pig his main experience of technology had been listening and dancing to songs such as Rockabye Bear by The Wiggles. Consequently I played this and he was over the moon, particularly being able to view it on the big screen. He treated everyone to a little dance and the whole audience joined in with the clapping and and actions.

By sheer luck it worked out well in the end and was quite funny to boot. Many, many thanks go out to Leanne for her organisation and understanding, Anna for her caring charm and +Sally-Ann Williams and +Marie Efstathiou for allowing us to use such an excellent venue


  1. It is always awesome seeing you in flight Simon! This one was definitely no exception! Resourceful and entertaining as always while also bringing up a number of key points for us to be reminded of how we have to adapt as our students have different perspectives and expectations. Well done again!
    PS I am impressed with anyone that manages to get the BBC talking animals video into a presentation and get the crowd singing along and dancing with the Wiggles!

  2. Thanks Rolfe! The only downside was being prevented from sticking around and networking thanks to the ankle biters. Good to catch up at Edutech though :-)