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Applying Technology to Inquiry-Based Learning in Early Childhood Education

Abstract

Children naturally explore and learn about their environments through inquiry, and computer technologies offer an accessible vehicle for extending the domain and range of this inquiry. Over the past decade, a growing number of interactive games and educational software packages have been implemented in early childhood education and addressed a variety of subjects, including mathematics, science, reading, language, and social studies. However, most software packages have yet to integrate technology into inquiry-based learning for early childhood contexts. Based on existing theoretical frameworks, we suggest that instructional technologies should be used in early childhood inquiry education to (a) enrich and provide structure for problem contexts, (b) facilitate resource utilization, and (c) support cognitive and metacognitive processes. Examples of existing and hypothetical early childhood applications are provided as we elaborate on each role. Challenges and future research directions are also identified and discussed.

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Acknowledgments

The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A07068 to the University of Virginia. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the U.S. Department of Education.

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Correspondence to Feng Wang.

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Wang, F., Kinzie, M.B., McGuire, P. et al. Applying Technology to Inquiry-Based Learning in Early Childhood Education. Early Childhood Educ J 37, 381–389 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-009-0364-6

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Keywords

  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Problem solving
  • Early childhood
  • Technology
  • Computers