Currently the Chief Engagement Officer of Engagement Strategies, LLC, her own national marketing, educational technology and publishing consulting company, Fran Simon has been a professional Early Childhood educator and a passionate technologist since 1981. After 15 years as a multi-site child care administrator where she was responsible for all technology integration, she followed her passion to a new career in marketing and Internet development. In her subsequent positions at Teaching Strategies, and The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, she developed web sites and online systems for use in early childhood programs and national organizations. For more than 25 years in the field, technology and social media have always been at the heart of her work in early childhood education.
Fran is a contributing author on technology and social media for Child Care information Exchange, and frequently presents on technology and social media at national conferences and with corporations. She is the founder and producer of Early Childhood Investigations, a free webinar series for early childhood administrators. Fran has a BA and a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. She served as a Board Member and Vice President of the Technology and Young Children Interest Forum of NAEYC. She lives in metropolitan Washington, DC.
Praise for Digital Decisions:
"Fran and Karen have compiled a treasure trove of great advice and practical suggestions for integrating technology into an engaging and developmentally appropriate early childhood curriculum. From video cameras and iPads to interactive white boards and smartpens, they share the pros and cons of different devices and applications. Even if you are already tech savvy, Digital Decisions will open your eyes and expand your awareness of how technology fits into a purposefully planned child-centered classroom."
—Paula Jorde Bloom
"For a long time I have been longing for a book for early childhood educators on digital technology. Now, here’s the book I have been waiting for—a treasure trove of practical information, soundly based on the best child development and educational research for young children. Simon and Nemeth anticipate and address your every question with how-to information. Most importantly, they transform the debate between technology as good or bad, rather showing us how to use technology actively and interactively within good active and interactive early childhood programs."
—Ellen Galinsky, author, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
"Digital Decisions opens up new ways of thinking about technology and young children by offering sound and concrete advice rooted in the everyday realities of early childhood classrooms. It is refreshing to see examples of technology use with young children that feature open-ended play and exploration. Don't miss the book's creative ideas for Skyping with remote family members to promote cross-cultural discussions, harnessing the power of mobile voice apps to foster language development and employing graphing software to help children understand math concepts."
—Lisa Guernsey, director, Early Education Initiative
"Integrating technology can seem quite daunting to even the most experienced early childhood educator. It is for this reason that I value how Karen and Fran have approached this complex and somewhat controversial topic by keeping the needs of young children and how they learn best at the forefront of every decision made when it comes to integrating technology in the early childhood classroom. This book isn't something you read once and then toss aside. Instead, teachers will be able to use this book as a go-to source many times over while developing their own common-sense approach to technological-best-practices in the early childhood classroom."
—Deborah J. Stewart, Teach Preschool
"Digital Decisions is a valuable resource and practical guide for early childhood educators, no matter your comfort level with technology. Fran Simon and Karen Nemeth draw on their experiences as early childhood educators and technological expertise to anticipate potential questions and concerns that teachers and administrators may have. This book maps out a way to better understand the options and address the issues early childhood educators may be facing. Simon and Nemeth’s curriculum ideas are exciting and demonstrate the possibilities of enriching children’s learning experiences. Their concrete examples illustrating ways technology can be used in developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom, enhancing partnerships with parents, and creating professional development opportunities for teachers make a strong case for integrating these practices into our programs."
—Joanne Hurt, executive director of Wonders Child Care
"Simon and Nemeth have come out with a timely resource on technology that is a must-have for today’s early childhood teachers and administrators. Coinciding with the release of the joint position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media on Technology in Early Childhood Programs, this no nonsense, jargon-free guide helps teachers wade through the wide inventory of technology in all of its forms and select those platforms and devices which will best support the curriculum in developmentally appropriate ways. The authors provide an array of interactive activities that show teachers how to maximize technology as a true learning tool. In addition, each chapter provides supporting guidance for administrators and for those working with children who are dual language learners or may have special needs in making technology most effective. This volume is brimming with charts, resources, and clear judgments that will make a subject that is overwhelming to many, easy for all to understand and apply. This is a reference every early childhood program will want to have."
—Laura J. Colker, Ed.D.; president, L.J. Colker & Associates; coauthor, The Creative Curriculum for Preschool; contributing editor, Teaching Young Children (TYC), NAEYC
"A much needed book in the rapidly evolving world of technology and young children. The text is excellent. It is packed with vignettes so vivid that the reader can actually see children and teachers and how they are utilizing technology. Quick examples dramatically illustrate appropriate and inappropriate uses of technology. Children use digital technology from a tool box of resources including recorders, cameras, white boards, web sites, software etc. all in developmentally appropriate ways. The authors address the needs of teachers who are reluctant to use technology, to those who have limited skills in technology to those who have used technology for years and are looking for ways to integrate new tools. A clear strength of the text is the checklists which are used to access the readers comfort zone with technology, their skills in technology, how they want to use technology with young children. These checklists provide a central core to tailor professional development to meet the needs and interests of teachers. Guidelines for evaluating all technology resources including software and web sites provide critical guidance to teachers."
"Digital Decisions, authored by Fran Simon and Karen Nemeth, is a must have for teachers, directors and other administrators of early childhood programs! The authors provide guidelines and successful strategies for administrators and teachers on how to integrate 21 century technology into early childhood programs in a developmentally appropriate and meaningful manner. This book provides an abundance of relevant resources for creative and innovative ideas for successful integration and implementation of technology in the early childhood classroom. They demonstrate through very real scenarios how to use existing technology to enrich early childhood programs and provide a thorough understanding of how technology can create a more in depth and “real” experience not only for children but for the adults in the classrooms as well.
Simon and Nemeth take on the ever surging debate over using technology in early childhood programs head on and make a formidable case most successfully for the positive use and outcomes of integrating technology into these programs. They present both sides of the debate and through various scenarios presented one is encouraged to “relax and breathe” through the discussion. They provide strategies and hands on activities to support teachers, directors and other administrators to successfully include various devices and applications. Not only is there theory, discussion and rationale for technology use in the early childhood classroom but there is also a wealth of information on how these devices and applications can be used to enrich the lives and life -long learning of young children!"
—Christina Giovinazzo, early childhood program and management consultant
"Karen Nemeth and Fran Simon, experienced educators, authors and national presenters identify and address questions and concerns related to the use of technology with young children. They recognize that early childhood education professionals need to be digitally literate and comfortable with the basics to help children learn how to use and manage technology in today’s digital world. In their book, Nemeth and Simon offer tips and strategies in an easy to read format that includes scenarios and charts. The Intentional Early Childhood Educator's Common Sense Guide to Technology offers resources to help early childhood educators, teachers and administrators consider and discuss these important questions. How can technology be used to enhance play, alongside traditional educational materials? When should technology be used with young children, to make a learning experience more meaningful or provide new access to learning for diverse learners? As the book suggests, the time for careful consideration of these issues, and planning to ensure technology is used appropriately with young children, is now."
—Bonnie Blagojevic, Morningtown Consulting; adjunct faculty, University of Maine, Orono; Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2007
"Technology can be such a powerful tool in preschool education but it can also be overwhelming and intimidating for the non-techie educator. Well, not any more! This book is a game changer. Nemeth and Simon’s comprehensive and novice-friendly tech book covers key topics such as the controversy surrounding the use of technology in early childhood, discussion of hardware and software options, planning and budget issues, special considerations for children with IEP’s and dual-language-learners, and even many fun activities that exemplify meaningful applications of technology in the context of math, science or other early childhood explorations. I consider myself relatively well-versed in technology and I still learned quite a lot. This is a fantastic book for everyone in early childhood education, and I particularly recommend it to fellow world language educators."