The TEC Center at Erikson Institute: Celebrating 5 Years of Impact and Influence at the Intersection of Child Development, Early Learning and Technology

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HITN Higher Ed Symposium
June 2013

This past year I have been reflecting on all that has been accomplished since the TEC Center was founded at Erikson Institute in 2012 with the support of the Boeing Company. The TEC Center was launched just as the NAEYC and Fred Rogers Center joint position statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 was released. Since 2009, I had co-chaired the working group, with Roberta Schomburg of Carlow University, that updated the 1996 NAEYC position statement and offered principles and guidelines to inform practice in the new age of smartphones, tablets with touchscreens, digital cameras and mobile devices.

Technology and media should not replace activities such as creative play, real-life exploration, physical activity, outdoor experiences, conversation, and social interactions that are important for children’s development. Technology and media should be used to support learning, not an isolated activity, and to expand young children’s access to new content. (NAEYC and Fred Rogers Center, 2012, p. 5)

As our foundational document, the joint position statement has informed our activities, deepened our impact and broadened our influence and provided principles and guidelines that have shaper the leadership role we have played in advancing the conversation and improving practice.

Chip Donohue and Amanda Armstrong with Fred Rogers statue

When used wisely, technology and media can support learning and relationships. Enjoyable and engaging shared experiences that optimize the potential for children’s learning and development can support children’s relationships both with adults and their peers. NAEYC & Fred Rogers Center (2012), p. 1


Our strategic mission

Erikson Institute’s work is driven by a three-year (2016–2018) Strategic Plan, Impact and Influence, that leverages proven strengths while directing energy and resources toward 4 grand challenges. Grand Challenge 2 focuses on work the TEC Center is uniquely and powerfully qualified to address – informing the mindful integration of technology and digital media to improve the well-being of young children, families, and their communities.

The TEC Center story began with identifying and sharing appropriate and intentional uses of technology in the early years – offering early childhood educators guidelines for selecting, using, integrating and evaluating technology tools for learning. From the start, our work has been situated at the intersection of child development theory, early learning principles, pedagogy, research, and innovative approaches to technology integration grounded in the principles of developmentally appropriate practice. Being of Erikson Institute means that we are child development specialists interested in technology, not technologists curious about children. Being connected to the Fred Rogers Center or Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College as a Senior Fellow and Advisor means that I have been deeply influenced by the approach Fred Rogers took to the using the technology of his day, broadcast TV, as a tool to support whole child development children’s interactions with others. Our motto has always been, “It’s not about the technology. It’s about the relationships.”

NAEYC Book Session Authors
November 2014

Nothing will ever take the place of one person actually being with another person. There can be lots of fancy things like TV and radio and telephones and the Internet, but nothing can take the place of people interacting face to face. (Fred Rogers, quoted in Davis, 2000, p. 29).


It takes a village: Our collaborating partners

Relationships are at the heart of what we believe and how we work. In the past five years we’ve been fortunate to have wonderful partnerships and collaborations that have informed and enriched our work with educators, parents and families, researchers and media developers. Thought leaders and colleagues from a long list of organizations have encouraged us, nudged us and been our “media mentors”, including: Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College; American Library Association (ALA); Association of Children’s Museums (ACM); Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC); Catherine Cook School; Center for Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital; Center for Media and Human Development at Northwestern University; Chicago Children’s Museum; Chicago Public Library; Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative; Children’s Technology Review; Columbia College Chicago; CPB/PBS Ready to Learn; Early Childhood Australia Digital Policy Group and Live Wires; Early Childhood Futures, Learning Sciences Institute Australia, Australian Catholic University; Early Childhood Investigations; Early Childhood STEM Working Group; HITN Early Learning Collaborative; Illinois Computing Educators (ICE); Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT); Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop; Kohl Children’s Museum; Language Castle; Little eLit; National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE); New America; New Zealand Tertiary College; Technology and Young Children Interest Forum of NAEYC; and Waterford Institute, Early Education and Technology for Children (EETC)

I also acknowledge the contributing authors of Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning (2015) and Family Engagement in the Digital Age: Early Childhood Educators as Media Mentors (2017). A special thanks to my closest collaborators and fellow travelers, the team at the Fred Rogers Center (2009-2017) including Rick Fernandes, Rita Catalano, Bill Eisler, Max King, Jun-lei Le, Karen Struble Myers, Theresa Noel, Mike Robb, Cindy Scarpo, Roberta Schomburg, Hedda Sharapan, Tanya Smith, Emily Uhrin and Dana Winters.

On behalf of the TEC Center team, I also want to acknowledge the early childhood educators, librarians, museum staff and child life specialists who have inspired us and shown us what it looks like to integrate technology in appropriate and intentional ways and to empower young children with tools for learning.


ETS Panel

Impact and influence: By the numbers

In three key areas of impact and influence – presentations, publications and media coverage – we have seen our impact deepen and our influence rise steadily over the past five years. We’ve grown from 38 presentations in 2012 to 112 this year, and carried the message of the TEC Center at Erikson Institute to 11 countries and 34 states since 2012.

Our publications have risen from 8 in 2012 to 21 articles and reports and 11 blog posts in 2017. Since 2012, TEC Center authors have published two books, four policy reports, and articles in Young Children, Zero to Three, the SAGE Encyclopedia of Contemporary Early Childhood Education, Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Exchange Magazine, Early Childhood Australia’s Every Child and Live Wires magazines, Children’s Technology Review, and more.

Early Childhood STEM Work Group
The White House

The media has taken a lot of interest in our work right from the start. The number of interviews, quotes and references was 94 in 2012 and in 2017 reached 115. The TEC Center has been mentioned in the media at least 556 times between 2012-2017. Our website and social media presence has also increased dramatically over the years, with 79,609 website page views, 1,110 Facebook page likes, and 5,113 Twitter followers at the end of 2017. This year alone, through our keynote speeches, invited presentations, conference sessions, workshops and professional development programs we estimate that we have reached over 15,000 educators and parents.


Timeline highlights: Celebrating 5 Years of Impact and Influence

There are so many examples of thought leadership over the past five years, and we are compiling a more complete timeline that we will share soon. Until then, here are a few highlights from each year to demonstrate how we have impacted and influenced the field since 2012.


  • Chip Donohue received the Bammy Award and Educators Voice Award as Innovator of the Year from the Academy of Education Arts & Sciences in Washington, DC
  • TEC Center co-hosted the Tech in the Early Years conference with Columbia College Chicago and Catherine Cook School


  • TEC Center co-hosted A to Zoo for Apps/Librarian Approved meeting with ALA, ALSC, Little eLit, Digital Storytime and Children’s Technology Review and the Fred Rogers Center
  • TEC Center and the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network/Early Learning Collaborative co-hosted a Higher Education Symposium funded by the US Department of Education Ready to Learn Grant


Chip Donohue with Kate Highfield

  • We welcomed Dr. Kate Highfield, Lecturer, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia as a TEC Center Visiting Scholar
  • Chip Donohue edited Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning (2015), co-published by Routledge and NAEYC


  • Katie Paciga of Columbia College Chicago is named the first early career research fellow of the Fred Rogers Center and TEC Center
  • Chip Donohue joins Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age for A Conversation About Powerful Childhoods in a Digital Age at an Erikson Institute’s President’s Council event


  • The TEC Center was invited to a White House convening, Advancing Active STEM Education for Our Youngest Learners, and was recognized for Advancing STEM in Early Learning by initiatives
  • Tamara Kaldor leads the curation and creation of the TEC Center Technology Tools Collection in the Edward Neisser Library at Erikson Institute
  • Tamara Kaldor launches the innovative, hands-on TEC Mentor professional development program

    Archdiocese of Chicago Educators Playground April 2017 Erikson Institute

  • Chip Donohue is the keynote speaker at early childhood and tech events in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia


  • Chip Donohue edits Family Engagement in the Digital Age: Early Childhood Educators as Media Mentors (2017), co-published by Routledge and NAEYC
  • The TEC Center co-hosts Media Literacy in Early Childhood: A Critical Conversation event with NAMLE

    Media Literacy in Early Childhood: A Critical Conversation
    TEC Center/NAMLE
    June 26, 2017
    Erikson Institute

  • TEC Center hosts a STEM Lab programming series event, Learning from the Outside In: The Power of place-Based Science Education with Dr. Milton Chen
  • Chip Donohue and Tamara Kaldor travel to New Zealand, Italy, Russia, China, Canada and Jamaica to attend conferences and deliver presentations



It takes a village: The TEC Team 2012-2017

For more than 5 years I have ended my technology presentations with this simple quote and powerful reminder from Fred Rogers:

…Let’s not get so fascinated by what the technology can do that we forget what it can’t do…It’s through relationships that we grow best and learn best.

Cited by Hedda Sharapan in the Fred Rogers Company Professional Development Newsletter, May, 2012

Archdiocese of Chicago Educators Panel
April 2017
Erikson Insitute

At the TEC Center, we agree with Fred Rogers that we have grown best and learned best through relationships and I want to end by recognizing the TEC Center team who have established themselves and the TEC Center as thought leaders in the areas of tech integration, family engagement, media mentors, the “T” in STEM, tangible technology, and technology for inclusion. The TEC Center is known for: curating and amplifying research and best practices; excellence in hands-on, deep-dive professional development; bringing together formal and informal educators and settings; our innovative STEM Lab and digital tools collection and other strategies for supporting academic programs at Erikson Institute; and policy convenings.

Dr. Katie Paciga


This collective impact and influence comes from our team and our relationships with others. The TEC Center team includes:

  • Chip Donohue, PhD, Founder and Director (2012-2017)
  • Tamara Kaldor, MS, Associate Director (2015-2017)
  • Jenna Herdzina, MS, Program Manager (2017)
  • Jessica Kubacki, MS, Program Manager (2017)
  • Amanda Armstrong, MS, Program Coordinator (2012-2015)
  • Erikson Interns – Meghan Farrell (2017-2018), Jenna Herdzina (2016-2017), Jessica Kubacki (2016-2017) and Iara Funemayor (2013-2014)
  • Early Career Research Fellow, Fred Rogers Center and TEC Center at Erikson Institute, Dr. Katie Paciga, PhD,

Media Literacy in Early Childhood: A Critical Conversation
June 26, 2017
Erikson Institute


Davis, J. (2000, October). Face time: Class acts. Grok, 26–36.

NAEYC & the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. 2012. Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Joint position statement. Washington, DC: NAEYC; Latrobe, PA: Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College.

Sharapan, H. (2012, May). Professional Development Newsletter. Pittsburgh, PA: Fred Rogers Company.


Learn more…

2017 marks the 5-year anniversary of the NAEYC and Fred Rogers Center joint position statement and the founding of the TEC Center at Erikson Institute. We been commemorating 5 years of guidance from the NAEYC & Fred Rogers Center Joint Position Statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs

Interview with Chip Donohue
Erikson Institute

Celebrating 5 years on impact and influence from the TEC Center at Erikson Institute by putting the spotlight back on the joint position statement through a series of activities, blog posts, articles and more.






TEC Center at Erikson Institute

Fred Rogers Center


Updated resource page

Position Statement

Key Messages

December 14, 2017
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10 resources for families, educators, and service providers working with young children to support understanding of net neutrality and how it impacts young children. Read more →
November 15, 2017
Celebrating two five-year-olds who are growing up before our eyes
TEC Center Director, Chip Donohue, PhD reflects on the first five years of the Technology in Early Childhood Center and the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center Joint Position Statement. Read more →