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Tagged With: edtech

What parents should ask teachers about technology

parent-teacher

‘Technology in education’ has become the buzz phrase for cutting edge classes that are plugged into the latest education trends. Not surprisingly, it takes a lot more than a room full of computers, iPads, and apps to turn “tech ed” from marketing to mainstream.

For parents, where schools fall on that continuum — mostly marketing hype or taking the necessary steps to integrate tech — is critical. When you start at a new school (or classroom, or teacher), it’s important to understand the part technology will take to improve educational experiences for your child. Here are fourteen question you can expect stakeholders to answer — in depth:

Who teaches students to use class digital tools?

Many teachers (too many) think students arrive at school as digital natives, with all necessary digital knowledge downloaded into their brains. This myth exploded when students taking the year-end online tests didn’t know basic tech skills like copy-paste, keyboarding, using dialogue boxes, and more. So it’s a legitimate question: Who teaches students how to use the school’s digital devices and what training do they get to support that responsibility? Is it a one-off PD day or ongoing? Is there a tech ed curriculum to ensure topic coverage and that teaching is done “the right way” or is it up to the teacher? How does the school handle an unexpected tech need — say, programming for December’s Hour of Code?

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Categories: Parents | Tags: | Leave a comment

10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2016

top-ten-2016Since I started this blog five years ago, I’ve had over 4.8 million visitors to the 1,454 articles I’ve written on integrating technology into the classroom. This includes how to use wikis or blogs in the classroom and what I’ve learned from my students as we got through another tech week. I have regular features like:

If you’ve just arrived at Ask a Tech Teacher, start here.

It always surprises me what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post I put heart and soul into, sure I was sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

Before you look at what statistics say are the most popular posts, tell me what your most popular categories are by voting in this poll:

[polldaddy poll=8383517]

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Categories: Blogging, Teacher resources | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2015

top ten 2015Since I started this blog five years ago, I’ve had over 4.8 million visitors to the 1,454 articles I’ve written on integrating technology into the classroom. They may be about how to use wikis or blogs in the classroom or what I’ve learned from my students as we got through another tech week. I have regular features like:

I post a lot of lesson plans that have worked for me and share my thoughts on other ideas that affect teachers trying to tech-ify their classrooms. If you’ve just arrived at Ask a Tech Teacher, start here.

It always surprises me what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post I put heart and soul into, sure I was sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

Before you look at what statistics say are the most popular posts, tell me what your most popular categories are by voting in this poll:

[polldaddy poll=8383517]

(more…)

Categories: Blogging, Teacher resources | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

10 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

7858475 Young couple with tabletsLife is hard, but help is all around us. The trick is to take your learning where you find it. In my case, as a technology teacher, it‘s from computers. A while ago I posted four lessons I learned from computers:

  1. Know when your RAM is full
  2. You Can‘t Go Faster Than Your Processor Speed
  3. Take Shortcuts When You Can
  4. Be Patient When You‘re Hourglassing

I got a flood of advice from readers about the geeky lessons they got from computers. See which you relate to:

8033305 Girl with tablet#5: Go offline for a while

We are all getting used to–even addicted to–that online hive mind where other voices with thoughts and opinions are only a click away. Who among us hasn’t wasted hours on Facebook, Twitter, blogs–chatting with strangers or virtual friends ready to commiserate and offer advice. It’s like having a best friend who’s always available.

But while your back is turned, the real world is changing. Once in a while, disconnect from your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–even your blogmates. Re-acquaint yourself with the joys of facial expressions, body language, and that tone of voice that makes  the comment, “Yes, I’d be happy to help” sincere or snarky. Engage your brain in a more intimate and viscerally satisfying world.

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Categories: Computer Wisdom, Critical thinking, Humor | Tags: | 4 Comments

Everything I Need to Know Came From a Computer

Life is hard, but help is all around us. The trick is to take your learning where you can find it. In my case, as a technology teacher, it‘s from computers. Here are four lessons I learned from my computer. I might not survive without them.

#1: Know when your RAM is full

illustration of a female worker sleepingRAM is Random Access Memory. In the computer world, it controls how much you can work on at any given moment. If you exceed your computer‘s RAM, it won’t be able to remember anything else (computer programs start stalling or stop working). Humans have a mental workspace–like a desktop–that controls how much we can keep in our thoughts before it is shuffled off to long- and short-term memory. For people with eidetic memories, it‘s very large. For most of us, size is controlled by:

  • how complicated the subject is
  • how many numbers there are
  • how many specific facts there are

I know my limits and I don‘t feel bad about grabbing a pencil to take notes or asking someone to slow the heck down. You shouldn‘t either. Figure out the limits of your RAM and accept it. Don‘t be afraid to say, My RAM is full! That‘s what computers do.

#2: You Can‘t Go Faster Than Your Processor SpeedCircuit Board

Everyone wants a computer with the fastest possible processor speed. That means it will perform tasks at lightening speed and we as the owner get more done in less time. The computer seems to understand what pace is best for its mother board and maintains that pace, no matter if we yell, scream, or kick its tires. Why? Because it can only work as fast as its parts allow it to.

This is also true of your personal processing speed. It is what it is. Your ability to think through problems and consider issues is determined by your mental and physical framework. No amount of lusting after those with a photographic memory will change your circumstances. Accept yourself for what you are. Revel in it. Own it. Enjoy your strong points and work around the weak ones.

Here‘s something you may not know. No one is perfect and everyone has weaknesses. Successful people re-form arguments and situations to accommodate their strengths and ignore their weaknesses. You can too. Who cares what your processing speed is if your hard drive is to die for?

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Categories: Computer Wisdom, Critical thinking, Humor | Tags: | 4 Comments

10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2014

top tenSince I started this blog five years ago, I’ve had over 3 million visitors to the 1,134 articles I’ve written on integrating technology into the classroom. They may be about how to use wikis or blogs in the classroom or what I’ve learned from my students as we got through another tech week. I have regular features like:

I post a lot of lesson plans that have worked for me and share my thoughts on other ideas that affect teachers trying to tech-ify their classrooms.

It always surprises me what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post I put heart and soul into, sure I was sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

When you look at these articles, they aren’t required to have been written in 2014–just visited last year. Some of these articles were written a few years ago and still generate a lot of interest among aspiring authors.

Before you look at what statistics say are the most popular posts, tell me what your most popular categories are by voting in this poll:

[polldaddy poll=8383517]

Here they are–my top 10 and bottom 10 of 2014 (though I’ve skipped any that have to do with website reviews and tech tips. Those, I cover in other posts):

Top Ten Hits

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Categories: Blogging, Teacher resources | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

25 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix–Update

problem solvingThe Number One reason–according to students–why their computer doesn’t work is… It’s broken. Can I move to a different computer??? Doesn’t matter why they’re wrong. My teacher job is to provide strategies so they can independently solve problems like these.

As a tech teacher, I know that half the problems that stop students short in their tech lessons are the same few. Once they’ve learned the following twenty-five trouble shooting solutions, they’ll be able to solve more than half of their ongoing problems.

ps

In the three years since I first posted this, I haven’t changed my mind about these problems. These transcend platforms, curricula, and Standards. When your youngest students can’t double click that tiny little icon to open the program (because their fine motor skills aren’t up to it), teach them the ‘enter’ solution. When somehow (who knows how) the task bar disappears, show them how to bring it up with the ‘flying windows’ key. When their monitor doesn’t work, go through all possible solutions together (monitor power on, computer power on, plugged into duplex, etc.)

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Categories: Problem solving | Tags: , | 6 Comments

5 Top Ways to Integrate Technology into the New School Year

I was reading an article–Five Real Reasons Why Teachers Don’t Use Technology More–from eSchool News listing the reasons why teachers don’t use technology. Included were some that probably resonate with educators at your school–Portrait of Asian secretary sitting at desk

  • it keeps changing so how do you decide what to choose
  • too much to do, too little time
  • teachers are pulled in too many directions
  • unreliable technology
  • no respect for the teacher’s voice in this tech ed process

I was nodding, thinking of people the reasons fit perfectly–and then I noticed: The article was written in

1999!

That’s right–fifteen years ago and nothing’s changed.

Have you been giving the same reasons for fifteen years too, hoping the tech demons will just go away and leave you to teach in peace? Every June, do you say, I got through another year without this or that tech tool–and everything went well.

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Categories: Blogging, Classroom management, Education reform, Games/Simulations | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Dear Otto: What’s a good Technology Acceptable Use Policy?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from D:

I have been a follower of Ask A Teacher site for some time and find the resources very helpful. I recently completed a MEd. in Technology Integration and am teaching technology as a tool to promote learning. I currently work in a 6-12 school in Nova Scotia, Canada where we have a Middle School within a High School. The school is struggling with establishing policy related to technology use, hand held devices, and social media. We teach digital responsibility and citizenship to our younger students with lesser success at the higher grades. Our administration, staff and parent council are requesting that we evaluate our current practices.

I am trying to locate examples and/or information related to technology policies in schools and was wondering whether you are aware of some particularly creative ones. Any suggestions or direction you might be able to point me in would be greatly appreciated.

Thank-you for your time and consideration

Let’s start with: Why have a technology Acceptable Use Policy? The answer is simple, and it’s the same reason why you establish any policies at your school: To inform stakeholders. How should they use the internet and digital devices? What’s appropriate for school that may be different from other locations? What are consequences if errant use? Why should the stakeholders care about using school technology appropriately?aup

There are many benefits to technology in education, but as many negatives. To truly serve the scholastic journey, technology–digital devices and the access to information–must become an effective and safe tool for student and teacher use. The way to communicate that plan is through a Technology Acceptable Use Policy (aka, AUP and Appropriate Use Policy). Design it, then share it. Make sure students understand what they’re agreeing to and why.

An Acceptable Use Policy revolves around three areas:

  • internet use
  • digital device use on the school campus
  • legalities

The trick to making guidelines effective and deliverable is to meet with your admin, teachers, and parents–and probably your legal representatives also. Find out what’s important to them and integrate those into the policy. Definitely, that list should include (find more detail from Scholastic):

  • instructional philosophies and strategies supported by Internet access
  • educational uses of the Internet
  • a list of the responsibilities of educators, parents, and students
  • a code of conduct governing behavior
  • consequences of violating the policies
  • a guide to what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable use of the Internet
  • a disclaimer absolving your school under specific circumstances from responsibility;
  • a statement reminding users that Internet access and the use of computer networks is a privilege
  • the need to maintain personal safety and privacy while accessing the Internet;
  • the need to comply with Fair Use Laws and other copyright regulations while accessing the Internet
  • a signature form for teachers, parents, and students indicating their intent to abide by the policies
  • treatment of other student’s devices
  • illegal activities
  • social media guidelines

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Categories: Classroom management, Dear Otto, Digital Citizenship, Education reform | Tags: | Leave a comment

Challenges to Implementing Computer Technology in Education

tech infusedWhat no teacher ever says: “I had no problem using technology in my classroom.” Even if YOU understand the plethora of digital tools, that often isn’t true for parents, other teachers, your Admin. Which becomes a challenge.

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor Sara Stringer addresses some of the biggest problems even geeky teachers face when trying to build a technology-infused classroom:

Computers are more a part of education than ever before, be it classroom teachers using computer technology to get through to their students, or students attending classes entirely online. Computer technology has become the future of education, and yet there are still challenges that make technology less effective than it could be.

Technological Threats

With increased computer use also comes increased threats. Students and teachers who use public networks to access school resources are at greater risk from several different computer threats. While schools can make sure their internet security is up to date, individuals who connect with their personal devices can still end up loading infected files to the network.

One solution is to require that all outside machines meet certain specifications, such as having an up to date virus or internet security program installed. Even Macs are becoming more vulnerable to viruses and malware, and those users should install internet security or an antivirus for Mac that will send warnings if the machines are compromised.

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Guest post | Tags: , | 2 Comments