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Dear Otto: Best Practices for New Teachers About Tech

Posted by on July 22, 2014

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Lucia:

I currently teach an instructional technology class to undergraduate students preparing to be educators. Every semester I need to revise my course to reflect “updates” in current Ed Tech. I’m hoping you might give me some advice on “best practices” for teaching students who want to be teachers! I’ve learned so much from you…and I’m hoping you can give me a boost here! I’m truly appreciative of any advice you may have!

There are four topics considered ‘best practices’ by current teachers when using tech in education. Here they are with a link to resources to help teach them:

  • digital citizenship--show how to keep students safe as they are encouraged to go online for research, collaborating, sharing, perspective-taking, and more
  • problem solving–lots of new teachers are intimidated by technology in their classrooms. Besides that there are so many digital tools–how does anyone stay up to date on them–there’s a worse problem: What happens when students using technology in class have a problem with it? What’s the teacher do? There are lots of problems the teacher can solve herself, without slowing down class and while modeling problem-solving skills, that don’t require an IT Intervention. Here’s a collection of 98


  • keyboarding–No matter what students use tech for in class, they have to be knowledgeable keyboarders. Consider entering website addresses, adding comments to blogs, typing docs into GAFE, taking online assessments… Students who can keyboard well blossom with these digital uses. Those who can’t–well, you know. Keyboarding is better taught in the classroom than a tech lab. It makes it more granular and normative.
  • vocabulary–an important part of succeeding in all core classes. Current thinking (such as Common Core) has it taught by using it, making it integral to lessons, not a stand-alone activity. That can be done if students have the tools to decode academic and domain-specific vocabulary on the fly. Tech makes that happen.

These four topics integrate technology into everything students do, making it authentic, scalable, and an excellent scaffolding tool. It goes without saying new teachers should be prepared to teach these four topics by integrating them into their curriculum.

As for current pedagogic thinking: Here’s a collection that covers the most popular topics out there. Let me know if they don’t cover one you’re interested in.

Still curious? Here’s what Bernie Poole says about tech and the new teacher on Education World, and here’s what Edutopia says on that topic.

More on new teachers:

9 Mistakes Teachers Make Using Tech in the Classroom

Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab

Humor that Inspires–for Teachers! Part II

Definition of ‘Teacher’

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.



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