EdTech is a popular buzzword, and I’m a big fan. But I’m not sure EdTech means what many people think it means.
EdTech often conjures up a limiting and inaccurate vision: computers, SmartBoards, and little kids with huge VR goggles on their melons. This causes many teachers to believe they don’t have time to learn “EdTech”. Which is a big, sad, stinky pile of misconception… Because it’s easier than they think.
If you’re reading this, you probably already consider yourself an EdTech geek of sorts. How can you help less tech-savvy teaching buddies dive in without drowning? Here are two thoughts inspired by my experiences at the EdTechTeam CA Summit in Mt. View in Aug, 2017.
Give Witness That Art > Science
We should always talk about the art of teaching first! What teaching challenge can an EdTech tool help with?
For example, teaching in an inclusive classroom that contains a big variety of learning styles and speeds is a daunting challenge. How can a teacher deliver material to standards and still find 1-on-1 time to help the students who need a little more? Well, that teacher would need high level student engagement, a lot of self-directed student inquiry, some smart groupings, student choice in activities and showing understanding, and flexibility to strategically place themselves where most needed at any moment. That’s a mouthful! And a LOT of planning!
Here’s an EdTech tool that can make this happen simply and with a manageable amount of planning. And it’s easier than they think!
Apply Google Docs through the art of teachers like Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis and you get Hyperdocs. Simply put, Hyperdocs leverage all the scientific awesomeness of Google Docs (“versioning”, collaboration, simultaneity, simplicity) through a teaching technique (art) that gives students choice and voice! They’re engaging and flexible. Hyperdocs demonstrate an artful lesson design philosophy that uses the science-based canvas, brushes and paints provided by Google Docs. (You can also use Slides, Sites, and other applications. Play around!)
Problem meets solution. Time management and differentiation meets artful design using Google Docs.
Go Deep First!
EdTech newbies should NOT try everything at once! They will surely get swamped by the mass and unrelenting speed of new EdTech apps.
Teachers should pick one or two helpful ideas and get really good at them. They should team up with a fellow brave soul willing to try something that can help, then dive in! Ideally, they should not come up for air until they feel as though they can teach others how to use this tool. Why go that far? Physician, heal thyself with some DOK4!
Like our students, teachers that develop DOK 4 thinking habits about one tool will find it easier and easier to add other new tricks and tips into their clue bags. If a teacher can “connect” and “create” and “critique” and “design” using a tool, then the next tool is sooo much easier to learn and adopt.
Great Starting Points
Teachers breaking into EdTech with a sense of dread should start with simple tools that make THEIR OWN lives easier. Buy in is the key to any future experimentation with tools. Here are some great topics for teachers to dive into. You can YouTube any of this.
- Learn Email Inbox Management Tools and Tricks
- Learn Web Browser Tips and Tricks (Extensions and Applications)
- Calendar – Email Integration Tips and Tricks
- Google Drawing Integration into Google Slides
- Google Forms for Formative Quizzes (add Flubaroo extension)
The list goes on and on, and these are just five random choices of things I think any teacher would love to know more about.
Jeff Macloud teaches computer applications, robotics and science topics on special assignment at three K-5 schools in Napa Valley Unified School District. He’s Google for Education Level 2 certified.