The buzzword in education seems to be technology: technology integration, technology in the classroom, and technology tools. It appears that using technology in the classroom is here to stay.
How do we as educators evaluate the technology use within our classrooms and within our schools? How do we decide if what we are using to deliver content, engage students, and produce product is the best option out there? How do we stay at the top of the ever-changing list of apps, videos, and tools?
As teachers we need to be active consumers of the digital world. We need to use apps and tools ourselves. Teachers who are able to navigate the digital world for themselves will be able to guide their students in the process. A tool I have found useful is Flipboard. Flipboard is an app for both the Apple and Android markets. It is social magazine application. You pick a few topics that you are interested in and the software brings together a visually appealing “magazine” for your reading pleasure. It continually updates, bringing you the latest news in the topics you picked. On my Flipboard a few of the topics I picked are “Instructional Design Daily,” “All Things Digital,” and “The Kid Should See This.”
Another way to stay on top of ever changing technology is to do a search for blogs that apply to you and your teaching situation and then to subscribe to those blogs. I have found several bloggers who continually blog on new items that they have found useful in their teaching. It is always good to hear from someone else how they use a tool and what they have found good and bad about it. Some of the blogs that I follow and enjoy:
Being both an Apple computer user and working with students who might need assistive technology, I often check the “Special Education” area of Apple apps. Many computer systems have assistive technology features built into the operating system of the computer such as voice over, sticky keys and guided access. You can do a search of your operating system and also assistive technology to see what is offered for the computer you are using. An educator I follow who often sends out a list of free Assistive Technology Apple apps is Mark Coppin.
At times it is overwhelming all that is out there and how to use it within your classroom. I suggest you evaluate the technology use within your school and classroom using a technology rubric. Evaluate where you are at, what is working well for you, and where additional technology could be used. This will focus your searching to a specific area and be less overwhelming. A few rubrics for evaluation are:
To stay current and knowledgeable in the “buzz” of technology we as teachers must remain informed, continually evaluate what we use and be able to articulate why we use what we do.
Becci Zwiers is an online educator, teacher consultant, and instructional designer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter as @BecciZwiers.