Technology plays an important role in the classroom. Teachers can apply technology to help students learn through interactive games and simulations, or by taking advantage of educational resources online. Technology can facilitate communication and collaboration between students and between students and their teacher.
Students who develop a strong familiarity with technology in the classroom are better-equipped to remain proficient users of new technologies throughout their lives.
But in order to help students make the most of technology, teachers need to stay on top of it themselves. That can be challenging, especially for teachers who may have finished their own educations when the technological advances of the past 15 to 20 years were still in their infancy.
You can brush up on your tech skills by earning an advanced degree focused on helping you effectively integrate technology into your classroom, but you can’t just rest on your laurels. Changes are happening rapidly, and you need to keep abreast of them by staying informed, working with up-to-date devices and software as much as possible, and surrounding yourself with folks who are passionate about new technologies.
1. Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Industry Trends
One of the best ways to keep your tech know-how up-to-date is to make it a point to stay current on industry trends. As the year draws to a close, search your favorite web browser for expected tech trends for the year to come. Throughout the year, you can keep tabs on which of these predictions came true by listening to tech podcasts during your commute or while doing chores at home.
You’ll feel more comfortable with new technologies if you use them regularly, so make a point of updating your own devices as often as you can. When you go to school online for an advance education degree, like a Master of Education in Instructional Design and Technology, you’ll learn how to make the most of tablets, computers, laptops, smart phones, and even newer technologies like smart watches or wearable fitness trackers. Visit big box stores regularly and browse through their electronics sections to see what’s new.
3. Surround Yourself with Technophiles
Cultivating friendships with people who love technology will help you feel more comfortable with tech through regular exposure to their ideas and beliefs about it — and who knows, maybe some of their enthusiasm will rub off! Tech friends can help you learn your way around new devices, and give you an idea of which emergent technologies really will take off, and which will fall by the wayside as momentary novelties. If there’s a new device you want to investigate but aren’t sure you should buy, one of your technophile friends may be able to loan one to you.
4. Build Your Own App
Apps are what allow you and your students to make good use of mobile devices. In order to better understand apps and how they work, you should consider building your own. Creating an app will make you more confident and tech savvy. You could even connect with and engage your students by building an app specific to their needs. It isn’t as difficult as you might think. Use an app-maker to complete the task — many don’t even require users to have coding skills.
5. Read Articles and Books About New and Future Technologies
Articles, blog posts, and books are all great sources of information about new and emerging technologies. Subscribe to technology news sites like Wired, Engadget, or ExtremeTech. Use the free RSS Feed Reader for Chrome to keep track of new content on all your favorite tech blogs.
A feed reader can make it easy for you to sort through new content and find the posts you need to read. Browse Amazon or visit your local library to grab books on tech subjects.
While some of the technological advancements predicted for the future might seem like the stuff of science fiction, it’s just as important to keep yourself updated on current trends in futurist thought. You never know which of these projected advancements might turn out to be the next big thing.
Teachers today have to be proficient in current and emerging technologies, so they can make the best use of them in the classroom, and also so they can pass their proficiency on to their students. Staying on top of technological advances isn’t difficult. All it takes it a little dedication and the willingness to commit some time each day to learning about the advances science is bringing us.
–from Michaela with the Ask a Tech Teacher Crew
–photos used with permission
More on teachers and technology:
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.