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Childrens Services Central [http://www.cscentral.org.au ] is an organisation providing professional development training and inclusion support for early childhood educators in New South Wales. It is an initiative funded by the Australian Government under the Inclusion and Professional Support Program. The goal of this organisation is to increase the skills and knowledge base of the early childhood educators in order promote, and to maintain high quality early childhood services for the children. They work in partnership with other leading organisations to provide quality training, resources and support for those who require. This site also provides valuable information on National Quality Framework, Early years learning Frame work, Changes in Early Childhood Education and Care, and links to forums where early childhood professionals are able to participate and contribute.
Both sites demonstrate trustworthiness, authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency and coverage. The information on both sites managed by Government agencies and early childhood professionals.
The information online could be authored by and viewed by any individual. Various sites are created having different purpose in mind. The websites are not subjected to any regulatory boundaries and therefore there is no monitoring of the contents or does not require approval to be published. Therefore, contents from any sites need to be treated with caution and evaluated against its accuracy and credibility. When working with Information and Communication Technologies, educators need to be aware that there are multiple ways of presenting and communicating information, and different skills are needed for reading and interpreting data online. One needs to question whether the contents believable? Whose opinion is presented? Can the information be trusted? A "resource that is credible is one which shows evidence of authenticity, reliability and believability" [URL] (An Educators' Guide to Credibility and Web Evaluation, 1999).
A possible area for improvement on both sites would be to suggest a site evaluation section where readers can comment, suggest or rate the information on the site. Such inputs would assist in identifying user expectations, and to cater effectively for the intended audience. Both sites provide access to important and valuable information and links to a range of sites at their finger tips.
Using online resources to enhance leadership: An organisaion's workability ultimately depends on it responsiveness to technology and the environment within which it operates. Majority of the early childhood services are operating within a community of technologically advanced environment, and which requires the service providers to integrate information and communication technology for effective and dynamic teaching and administration. It is suggested that the "use of technology, used appropriately, is able to "enhance the quality of the service provision" (Ebbeck & Wanniganayake 2003, p.51).
Leadership and pedagogy inclusive of appropriate Integration of Information and communication technology, in the learning environments, are able to involve and engage the children and the parents in a manner which was not possible in the past. Technology connects people, enhance and expedite processes, create new possibilities, "extend interaction with local and global communities" (MCEETYA. 2005)
Children of today's generation are born into a world full of technological environment. They are able to navigate technological tools with ease and confident compared previous generations. Social networks such as, face book, YouTube allows them to connect and communicate with the world around them. Xbox and play stations are the play tools of many preschool age children. Families too are using technology for "learning, recreation, management and communication. Technologies are cheaper, more mobile and able to be used by learners of all ages" (MCEETYA. 2005).
Within the early childhood services, "Early Years Learning Framework", "The National Quality Framework", "constructivism" stresses the importance of the relationships between the family, the context and the community. Communication enabled by the use of ICT facilitates and enhance this relationship. It provides new opportunities for parents and families to engage with the educators, learning programs and their children's progress [URL: Learning as a personal event].
Pedagogical leadership in an early childhood setting requires attention to fine details from various impact statements guiding early childhood education and care. Outcome four in the National Early Years Framework (2009) indicates that Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials and this is evident when the services allows children to engage in learning experiences to 'experiment with different technologies' and 'use information and communication technologies (ICT) to investigate and problem solve'.
Educational environments inclusive of appropriate information and communication technologies not only make management processes easier and faster, it also fosters, encourages and influences interactions, knowledge and language development in children (Presnky 2008, education Hot topICT 2009). Siemens (2004) proposes a "learning theory for the digital age" which clearly identifies the need for the learners to be able to engage with, identify, and locate information through the use of Information and Communication Technology.
Early childhood leaders need to be critical of their practices and keep up to date with the evolving debates on the pros and cons of integrating ICT in educational settings. Siemens (2004) states :
"Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know todayâ€¦ When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. ..As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn".
Rodd suggest that the internet within and beyond the organisations is a useful tool for learning and professional development, and accessing and sharing information. Early childhood services needs to connect the people, the processes and the technological tools as closely as possible in order to be effective in a constantly changing environment. As educators, it is expected that the children are exposed to valuable learning environment where they are cherished, nourished and protected in so that they can flourish in their development and growth.