The Digication Blog

In an era of remarkable transformation, innovative technology is rewriting early childhood education and how our young learners engage with the world around them. Certain cutting-edge tools and digital platforms are not just revolutionizing the classroom but also maximizing the learning potential of our future educators and leaders.

In our Digication Scholars Conversations podcast with Vail Shoultz-McCole,  Technical Instructor of Early Childhood Education at Colorado Mesa University and Buell Leadership Fellow, we explored a world where students are not just passive learners but active participants in their educational journey.

Vail’s extensive experience in the field and her passion for using technology to enhance teaching have paved the way for a fascinating discussion on "childhood education innovations" and "ePortfolios." These are not just buzzwords but integral tools in shaping the future of early childhood education.

Exploring The Heart Of Early Childhood Education


It is not a mean feat, starting a career in banking, which takes a detour into running a childcare facility, and eventually leads to becoming an inspiring Technical Instructor of Early Childhood Education. Our guest’s journey evoked the setting of this conversation. Early childhood education, as emphasized by Vail, plays a pivotal role in a child’s development. It is a period where children form foundational skills, attitudes, and social behaviors that will shape their future.

Vail’s perspective highlights the importance of fostering strong relationships between educators, parents, and the community. These connections serve as a vital support system for children and their families, offering guidance, comfort, and valuable insights into a child’s growth. As we conversed, Vail shared her remarkable journey and insights into the world of early education, and some of the key highlights include:

Building Strong Connections

During the conversation, Vail emphasized the significance of building strong connections. She highlights the pivotal role that early educators play in a child’s life and the lifeline they can provide to both children and parents. The warmth, support, and advice offered by these educators help foster a nurturing environment for young learners. Vail’s own experiences, along with her kids, exemplify the profound impact of these connections.

Creating Relationships with Parents

One of the intriguing aspects we explored was the importance of early childhood educators in creating meaningful relationships with parents. Vail shared how her program emphasizes the value of these relationships, recognizing that when educators and parents collaborate effectively, children thrive. In a specific course, students learn about working with families and the community, ensuring they understand the diverse perspectives and backgrounds that shape children’s lives.

The Shared Experience of Early Childhood

Unlike some educational fields that may not offer such immediate personal connections, students often have their childhood memories intertwined with their coursework. This shared experience fosters a deep sense of empathy and understanding for the children they will one day teach.

Joyful Reflections and Unique Learning Experiences

Vail also shared her enthusiasm for reading her students’ ePortfolios. These digital portfolios showcase their growth and reflections on various course objectives. What stands out is the genuine joy she finds in her students’ stories and their unique learning experiences.

Peer Review

Peer review is a powerful educational tool, and Vail’s program understands its potential. Through peer review processes, students can gain valuable feedback from their peers, helping them refine their teaching methods and approaches. Vail highlighted the significance of this reflective practice, emphasizing how it encourages students to evaluate their work and consider alternative perspectives critically. This fosters personal growth and ensures that future educators are better equipped to adapt to diverse learning environments.

Preparing for Diverse Needs

In our conversation, we learned that the program Vail is part of recognizes the importance of preparing educators for diverse needs. Special education, in particular, is addressed with depth and sensitivity. The program encourages students to identify their strengths and recognize when additional support is needed while maintaining a strength-based approach.

The Role of Nature and Balance

Vail’s passion for connecting children with nature and fostering a balance between technology and the outdoors is palpable. She discussed the need to help children understand the cycles of growth and the value of nature, not only for environmental reasons but also for their mental and physical well-being. Her insights into “tree bathing” and prescriptions for spending time in nature are both thought-provoking and actionable.

Innovative Technology In Education

Innovative approaches to teaching and learning are continuously evolving in education. ePortfolios is one such innovation that has gained prominence, showcasing student achievements, skills, and experiences. ePortfolios serve as a reflection of an individual’s growth and a powerful tool for educators to track and assess their students’ progress.

The integration of innovative digital tools in education is not a new concept. Over the years, educators have leveraged technology to enhance the learning experience. However, this requires a balance; it should augment traditional teaching methods without detracting from the essential human element of care and empathy that defines this field.

Vail’s commitment to enhancing the education experience didn’t stop at traditional classroom settings. She recognized the need for more accessible and organized documentation for students pursuing careers in early childhood education. This realization led her to pursue a second master’s degree in instructional design.

Her motivation was clear: to create a better online classroom experience that could easily adapt to different states’ requirements for teacher licensure. Vail wanted her students to have quick access to their coursework and documentation, especially when dealing with state licensing authorities. Her goal was to simplify the process of validating their education and credentials.

The Role Of ePortfolios In Early Childhood Education

Vail Shoultz-McCole – “ePortfolios are like living documents that grow with you as you move from one stage to another.”

Vail’s dedication to her career goes beyond her journey. She is deeply involved in shaping educators’ futures through her work at Colorado Mesa University. One notable aspect of the program is the use of ePortfolios, which play a vital role in documenting students’ growth and accomplishments.

According to Vail, the ePortfolios at Colorado Mesa University are carefully structured to help students track their progress and achievements throughout their academic journey. The process begins with the first class, where students create their initial teaching philosophy statement about early childhood education. They continuously expand and refine their ePortfolios as they progress through the program.

These ePortfolios serve as living documents that students can carry throughout their careers. They include key assessments, course syllabi, and end-of-course reflections. The ePortfolios are also designed to facilitate resource sharing among students. They can store and share valuable activities, children’s books, teacher resources, and websites they come across during their studies.

One of the unique aspects of these ePortfolios is that students have the freedom to add additional materials beyond the required documents. While they are only obligated to upload specific assignments for grading, many students take the initiative to include extra resources and reflections that are meaningful to them. This autonomy allows them to create a more personalized and valuable portfolio.

Moreover, these ePortfolios have a professional application beyond academia. Students use them to build resumes and showcase their qualifications when applying for teaching positions or transferring to other schools or states. It becomes a powerful tool for demonstrating their expertise and commitment.

Finally, our conversation with Vail provided a holistic view of this topic, emphasizing the importance of nurturing connections, collaborating with parents, and recognizing the shared experiences that underlie the field.

In the ever-evolving world of education, one thing remains constant: the profound impact that dedicated educators have on the lives of their students. Vail’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of education and the endless possibilities it offers to those passionate about making a difference. Her story inspires educators and learners alike, reinforcing the belief that anyone can make a meaningful impact in early childhood education with dedication and determination.

It’s heartening to know that educators like Vail guide the next generation with care, empathy, and a deep understanding of what it truly means to teach and inspire young minds.

To hear more from Vail Shoultz-McCole, Maximizing Learning Potential: How Innovative Technology Is Changing Reflection in Early Childhood Education, see the interesting episode.

Don’t miss any episode of the Digication Scholars Conversations podcast - click here!