The small, portable, and fairly inexpensive touch screen iPod allows for the entire classroom to use them at the same time.
I have mixed feelings about this idea. As a tech person, I get really excited by technology that is used well in teaching. In my classroom I have used digital cameras, online games, and a classroom blog for learning. I have always felt that my students were getting a lot out of the technology because I was there to guide, present, and qualify the experiences they were having. I have also seen computer games and interactive toys used to pacify children, especially boys who won't behave. When computers first entered pre-k classrooms in the 1990's, they were much more of a plug-and-play tool. Turn on a game, plug the kids into it with the head phone jack, and let them click away. Since Web 2.0 has come around that has changed. Technology − even for young kids − is more about interaction. There are entire worlds designed around children interacting with each other online.
Recently, my five year old my son went to a friend's house. While he was there, he played a Wii for the first time. When the boy's mom first asked my son if he wanted to play, he asked her, in all seriousness, "Is that one of those games that keeps you from going outside?" A little embarrassing for me, but at least I know he has understood what we have taught him: playing outside is fun, and usually better than a video game. He still likes to use my iPhone, but I am not sure I would want him using one in school. What do you think? Does learning on a computer and new interactive technology qualify as hands on learning? What should be the focus of pre-k classrooms?