I agree 100% that technology is only as effective as the people using it. In context of education, the instructor’s ability to make any technology a more immersive, interactive experience is beneficial.
Are we using technology in a child-centered way? Yes, I believe so. A few examples: we have a product called Osmo that uses an ipad camera to visually recognize physical shapes, movements of the payer, letter cards, and more – thereby bridging the gap between one-dimensional technology and the three-dimensional world. Another example is an interactive projector we have. The projector can track motion and execute commands simultaneously as it projects images and videos. One of the kid’s favorite apps is one called Kaleido, where 2 players can actively manipulate a canvas to create gorgeous, mirrored images – much like a kaleidoscope would.
We are certainly guilty of letting our kids just play on ipads though. We save that time for “free time” and try to limit their app choices to minecraft, brain-teasers, spanish language, and puzzle apps.
I really like the idea of using the blocks to cast a shadow on the projector screen and some of the other ideas presented here. I certainly could do a better job of making student interactions with technology more divergent.
One of the last themes that we implemented at our school focused on recycling. In hindsight, we could have incorporated shadow activities for a fun, interactive way to engage them. For example, if we projected an image of a clean, green-friendly urban environment and asked the children to trace the buildings and add additional images to their drawing, we could expect a much different picture from the children tracing and elaborating on a traced image of an environmentally troubled urban area.
I think it would be good for the kids, but it would also be a great opportunity for the teachers to see how kids of different ages and developmental levels think about their environment and how that differentiates from their perception of polluted areas.
I will also try to incorporate cameras much more frequently. We already use them on a daily basis, but finding new, innovative ways to create a learning experience is a great idea that I hope to employ. Printing off good pictures and giving them to parents is a very meaningful token for both students and parents alike.