2001 Conference Proceedings

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Computer Play: Infants and Toddlers Learning Through Computers

Linda J. Burkhart
6201 Candle Ct.
Eldersburg, MD 21784
410 795-4561

Put child in control

- child directed software
- moves at child's pace

Provide opportunities for choice making

- holds attention
- increases opportunity for control
- further expands awareness of consequences
- error-free learning environment

Facilitate communicative interaction

- serve as an augmentative communication device

Provide multi-sensory feedback with consistency and repetition of language and cognitive concepts

- virtually manipulate objects to develop cognitive skills
- immediate feedback to child
- child can control repetition as desired
- emerging literacy skills

Ensure cognitive simplicity

- present concepts in small steps
- immediate success helps child stay active and alert and stay out of a random "guessing mode" or "trying to please mode" which could lead to inaccurate or confusing consequences (This may help the child build correct foundational pathways in the brain and may help the child focus on learning concepts as opposed to coping strategies.) Equalize opportunity to interact with peers and siblings - opportunity to be included

*Doesn't replace interaction with others - often the young child does better playing with someone than independently using the computer

*Doesn't replace the need for manipulatives - research is showing that children learn most effectively from computers when used in conjunction with manipulatives.

Computer Inputs for Young Children

Touch Windows

- types: add on or integrated into the screen
- advantages
cognitive simplicity
- considerations for use
single vs. multiple finger
distance from monitor surface (angle of view)
settings: standard best - but may need a slight tap to activate accidentally going out of active window (kid feature on some software to restrict cursor)
button cover
window cover
motor control required to reach to a vertical plane


- types of interfaces
switch interface
adapted mouse
IntelliKeys switch jacks
mouse house
- considerations
single switch limited to cause and effect unless you introduce scanning (which is a fairly difficult concept)
two switches can be used through Intellikeys with IntelliPics and Clickit - position and placement of switches
within vision
auditory feedback (click)
tactile feedback and boundary bumpers
mounted on monitor
slant board (cover wires with Velcro)
pictures on switches related to software program - software needs to give clear, immediate feedback - scanning (beginning level)
two switch step scanning
visual and auditory scanning

IntelliKeys or alternative keyboards

- advantages: more control and more choices
- begin with switches to establish clear concept of pressing picture
- raised surface on Intellikeys with hot glue dots
- tactile symbols on carpet square
- consider position and angle of keyboard to monitor
- consider delay in respond of software due to software, conflicts or hardware
- use of Intellikeys with IntelliPics


- toy or ping pong ball on key with sitck-tac
- stickers or fake earrings
- flap switches

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