02 Feb 20 Top Tech Tips for Teachers
What kind of future thinking technology solution innovators would the team at Academia be if we were not able to supply our customers and teacher friends with the best tech tips for 2019?
The team, along with some advice from able-minded school teachers in the know, have compiled a top 20 list of the best Tech advice for teachers for the year ahead. Enjoy and remember, Tech is not taxing if you talk to the team from Academia.
- Shift Your Mindset
Your mindset is the biggest battle to overcoming technology fears in the classroom. We hear this phrase all the time: “I’m just not good with technology?” The classroom is full of obstacles; technology is no different. Maybe you aren’t as quick to learn with technology as your peers, but never let that become an excuse. If your mind is holding you back, you have some internal work to do. The Academia team offer many training courses to help with Technophobes who feel they can never adjust to modern technology updates – talk to us today!
- Take calculated risks
The magic happens outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to step out and try new things in the classroom. Let your students know when you fail or make a mistake so that they understand that is okay, it is after all natural for us all to make errors. Find ways to push students out of their comfort zones, give them new ideas, perspectives, and ways to approach a problem that can help them see the value in failing forward. Implementing new Technology is, of course, a risk if you not know it well – make sure you are educated before you become the educator on all things tech.
- Start with the Why
When you are planning a digital learning experience, be goal oriented. Begin with your learning outcomes, not the technology. This idea is perhaps the most important tip of all; everything teachers do should always come down student learning and doing what’s best for the students. Just because you are using technology doesn’t ensure you are meeting any objectives or learning outcomes. If you cannot explain how the digital tool enhances or improves the learning experience, you are just using technology for technology’s sake. If this is the case, let’s start over.
- Get Tech in Student’s Hands
Modelling is great, especially when it comes to technology use, but it is more important to get technology into the hands of learners. Often and with good reason, teachers can become overprotective of the technology in their classroom. Sticky fingers and clumsy hands can make you resistant, especially if it something you purchased with your own money. But if you want to see an impact, technology needs to be in your learner’s’ hands. Give them guidelines, show them proper use, and then trust them. We see this a lot in situations like one iPad in a classroom, especially with our regular Apple workshops. Get technology in the hands of learners, even at the cost of giving up control. Think that may cost too much? Consider the Device as a Service proposition from Academia.
- Shop for Tools like You Are on Amazon
There are so many devices, digital tools, learning ideas and gadgets to choose from in the twenty-first century that it can be overwhelming. Too many choices is a good problem to have though. When it comes to the digital tools that you have discretion over, shop for your learners like you are on Amazon! But the Academia solution is simple – the unlimited tools you should be using are all provided by the top vendor partners like Adobe who we work with on a day to day basis. It is a just a case of picking the right ones – so let your team from Academia choose for you!
- Don’t Get Swept Away By New Tools
Of course, it’s easy to get swept away by new digital tools. If you are always trying to integrate something new, you run the risk of focusing too much on the tool and not enough on the learning. Give new tools time to grow and evolve. Often you will find that new tools that start as free, could suddenly require a fee the day you decide to integrate into your classroom. New tools and ideas are part of what makes the 21st century so exciting, but we must be cautious when jumping into something new that hasn’t been proven or tested.
- Try to be Consistent
When technology changes so fast, and new digital tools become available every minute, it can be tempting to try something new in your classroom every day, but learners need consistency. We all know how frustrating it can be to try something new that requires additional set-up time and then doesn’t really do everything you had hoped. Risk-taking with new tools is great, but not every day, that would risk too much instructional time. Stick with your tried and true tools, that your learners already know how to use. Be consistent so that your students have an opportunity to learn in-depth, focus on the learning goals, and become savvy with the best digital tools.
- Don’t Integrate Too Many Tools At Once
Along with being consistent, resist the urge to integrate too many digital tools all at once. App-smashing is fun if guided by purpose, but if you try to do too much at once, you risk shifting the focus to the tool and just using technology for technology’s sake. If you love tech as we do, it can be easy to keep adding more ideas and tools to your lesson. But you should gradually build your student’s digital toolbox. It doesn’t have to happen in one day!
- Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Students Teach You
Today’s students have a lot of knowledge and skills, especially when it comes to technology. Long gone are the days of the teacher being the gatekeepers of knowledge. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer when it comes to the technology, and students will love the chance to help teach you! As you are designing your learning experience, and you wonder about how a digital tool works or if there an app for that, ask a student. Even if they do not know the answer, they will be willing to help you figure it out. Believe us, this is true!
- Utilise Student Tech Experts
It’s a myth to assume that every student is comfortable with technology. We still have a huge digital divide. But there are experts among us in our classrooms that can help bridge that gap. So not only should you leverage students to help you learn new digital skills, but you should also use them as go-to experts for other students in your classroom. This kind of leadership can be a very empowering experience for students, and it can also help those with inclinations toward technology to explore their passions and interests, and it can definitely help get more girls and young women interested in technology as well.
- Ask Three before Me
In the classroom, many teachers deliver small group instruction while the rest of the class work on other assignments, stations or learning menus. This can become difficult to manage questions while a teacher was working with a certain small group. Some learners naturally go to the teacher with every little problem, and often, these questions are easily answered by other learners in the classroom or found online. By implementing the, “ask three before me,” strategy many learners helped each other problem solve and complete their tasks and assignments, while a teacher can focus on a small group. This, of course, works well when digital tools are involved.
- Use Digital Tools for Learning
When technology integration began to enter our classrooms, and a dedicated computer lab was all the rage, most used it as a time to type a paper, do some research, or to create some type of end product like a PowerPoint or Brochure. But with so much technology at our disposal, and hopefully the end of trips to the shared computer lab, teachers should be integrating technology and digital tools throughout the learning cycle. Academia looks to help maximise these tools to engage students from beginning to end and beyond, not just summative products.
- Use New Tools to Do New Things
Think beyond using digital tools to complete only traditional assignments such as papers and reports. Use digital tools to do new things that will help motivate and excite the students. Just going paperless or digital isn’t enough, use some of these new tools to go further, go deeper and extend your students’ learning. Reach beyond what you think a digital tool can do and should be used for, and challenge your students to demonstrate their learning in a new way.
- Give Students Voice & Choice
Giving students a voice and choice is a vital component to creating student ownership of learning. There are many ways to do this. This may be as simple as giving them a choice in the digital tool they use to demonstrate their learning, or it could involve more student voice and choice. Learning menus help find easy ways to give students more choice in their assignments and provide a more flexible learning path. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome and the depth of understanding when you give students a little extra room to make their own decisions in their learning.
- Get Organised
One of the best things you can do as a facilitator of digital learning is to organise the information, directions, objectives, and resources online for your learners. Giving learners one central location or website will make your life so much easier and will allow learners to focus on the learning tasks—and to help you keep this learning experience as paperless as possible. Talk to your Academia account manager today to discuss the best platform to use to support this.
- Package Your Online Assignments
Don’t miss out on one of the BEST things about managing assignments online! When you create an assignment online using your preferred tool, be that Google Classroom, Canvas, Edmodo, Blackboard, Google Docs, Google Sites, etc… give learners all of the information online. Give them detailed directions, the rubric, the due date, detail collaborative expectations, where and how to turn it in, what to do if they finish early, everything you can think of! This will save you so much time answering questions. It is also convenient for absent work and demanding parents. This can also serve as documentation, a record of your lesson plans. You can fine-tune it and revise as you see fit throughout the assignment.
- Content is King
Technology can bring some excitement and engagement to student products and projects. But when it comes to assessing student work, always remember to go back to those learning goals. What was the original purpose of the lesson? Was it to include three animations in a PowerPoint? The fun little extras, the bells, and whistles can give something special to a project, but that is most likely not your end goal. Steer clear of rules that rely strictly on numbers, like the number of slides, the number of pictures, etc. Instead, focus on the content and skills that the lesson was designed to teach.
- Publish for a Global Audience
Every student should have the opportunity to publish for a global audience on a regular basis. Find ways to flatten the walls of your classroom and allow learners to publish their work, their writing, their videos, their projects, their creations, or even a full e-portfolio online. This will change the quality of their work and help them build a positive online presence.
- Invest in the latest Gadgets
There are a multitude of teacher-friendly gadgets that are now leading the classroom learning revolution. Academia is launching a new ‘Teacher Gadget Review’ service this year to help understand that gives excellent advice on the technology support devices that can help your classroom management. Want to know more about wireless projectors? Virtual keyboards? Portable Coffee Makers? Sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org to join our new Tech Review Club in 2019
- Share Your Voice
Academia are firm believers in sharing your story, your reflections, and your journey, and this is something we can also cultivate in students. This is a different type of sharing than sharing for collaboration and feedback. This is about sharing something more personal: the story of your learning. Reflection is an important part of the learning process, and when you are bold enough to share an honest reflection about your fears, what went well, or where you failed, it helps students cultivate a growth mindset. They begin to understand that the process, the good, the bad, and the ugly were all part of the learning journey. Help students to document their learning, reflect, and share with the world continuously.
Contributions from Brad Chuck, Charlotte Mills, Leanne Chuck, Kasey Bell & Iulia Berlo-Peterson