As the first phase of their Kidsmart programme in the UK, IBM donated a total of 27 of their Young Explorer Early Learning Centres, complete with Edmark educational software to 14 nurseries in 1999. These Early Learning Centres were initially developed by Little Tykes to serve the needs of 3 to 7 year olds and the Kidsmart aim has been to support early childhood educators in their efforts to apply this new technology to stimulate the development of children's social and cognitive skills. The UK initiative has also involved the British Association for Early Childhood Education (Early Education), who have worked in partnership with IBM to initially identify appropriate settings and in providing suitable training for them, to promote the initiative, and to commission this evaluation. The evaluation has therefore been carried out in association with the British Association for Early Childhood Education (Early Education), and is funded jointly by IBM and indirectly by the European Union as a part of the Developmentally Appropriate Technology in Early Childhood (DATEC) research project. The study has been conducted in the 14 pre-school settings (4 in Scotland and 10 in England) initially identify as appropriate Kidsmart recipient in the UK. They each offer a diversity of early childhood services in mainly disadvantaged areas. The settings included playgroups, nurseries, early excellence centres, family centres, and nursery classrooms. The study seeks to investigate whether the IBM initiative has improved the information and communications technology (ICT) provision offered to the three and four-year old children in the centres, and how the provision may be improved in the next phase of the project. The approach adopted in the study has been informed strongly by the work carried out by the principal investigators in contributing to the European Union funded project: Developmentally Appropriate Technology in Early Childhood (DATEC), and by the position statement by NAEYC (the USA National Association for the Education of Young Children) for developmentally appropriate practices for children from birth through age eight. Both of these initiatives accept as a basic principle that all high quality early childhood programmes should; "provide a safe and nurturing environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of young children while responding to the needs of families" (Bredekamp and Copple (1997). The study has also been informed by the previous evaluations of the Kidsmart programme that were carried out in the USA by Nancy Nager (1999 and 2000).
Siraj-Blatchford, J. & Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2001). Kidsmart: The Phase 1 UK Evaluation 2000-2001. London, United Kingdom: IBM.