Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.
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8 Warning Signs You’re an EdTech Newbie

8 Warning Signs You’re an EdTech Newbie

By Jessica Sanders

Though the world of educational technology (EdTech) is still in its infancy, nearly 74 percent of teachers said that they use digital resources in the classroom, according to a 2013 PBS Learning Media survey. What’s more, 69 percent of those surveyed said that this technology helps them “do much more than ever before.”

However, that still leaves a little more than 30 percent of teachers who have not used technology in their classroom. You’ll quickly realize that you’re one of these teachers, an EdTech newbie, if the following eight signs apply to you.

Are you or aren’t you?

1. You don’t know what “Blended Learning” is.

There are many buzzwords and phrases floating around the education world, and blended learning, or blended classrooms, is one of them.

Blog Bad_May_excited_336If you’re unfamiliar with the term, TeachThought defines it as: “…When technology and teaching inform each other: material becomes dynamic when it reaches students of varying learning styles.” In other words, your lesson is expanded, and likely improved, by including a YouTube video or blogging exercise.

As a newbie, blended learning is a great way to slowly integrate technology in your classroom while still using traditional teaching tools and methods. Use Google Maps to further explore a region from the social studies lesson you’ve already planned, for example.

2. The only technology used in your classroom is an overhead projector.

For some teachers, minimal access to technology—more often than not, outdated technology—is the reality of budget cuts. However, what many teachers don’t realize is that you don’t need iPads in your classroom to make use of technology.

Using Pandora on your smart phone to facilitate a brain-break dance party effectively changes the pace of your lesson with little to no extra work or expensive tools.

3. You’ve never created a “Classroom Tools Wish List!” board on Pinterest.

The name of the board doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you may not be taking full advantage of Pinterest, an amazing resource for teachers who are looking for new ideas and want to connect with other educators.

To get involved, create a Pinterest account (if you don’t already have one) and set up a few boards, like My Classroom Wishlist and Teacher Inspiration. Then start browsing around, searching with terms like “teaching” or “classroom ideas.”

To make the most of your Pinterest account, follow other teachers and education advocates, including: Suzy Brooks, Lauren Warner, Learn2Earn and Seusstastic.

4. Your students still track their reading with paper logs.

This is one of many tedious tasks that technology makes easier and more efficient. While there are a variety of online reading log tools you can use, consider Whooo’s Reading, a free, online platform that allows students to not only log their reading, but answer grade-specific, Common Core-aligned questions that test their comprehension of the text.

Download it for free at Learn2Earn.org.

 

[info_box color=”blue” width=”100%” float=”center” text_align=”center”]Tell us on Twitter: I’m an EdTech Newbie OR I’m an EdTech Veteran[/info_box]

 

5. You track student attendance with pen and paper.

Whether your school has a Learning Management System (LMS) or not, you don’t need to be tracking attendance by hand. If you don’t have an LMS for your school, use a free attendance tracking system, like MyAT, which comes integrated with a student grade book, teacher and parent messaging services and data dashboards. You can also create a basic attendance sheet in Google Sheets, free for everyone with a Gmail account.

6. You’re not on Twitter.

Even inactive teachers on Twitter use this platform as a feed for valuable education content. Sign up for an account, and start following education experts, advocates and publishers.

A few great Twitter accounts to follow are:

If you don’t have time to read the articles right away, use Pocket to store the articles for later.

7. You’ve never heard of the term “authentic audience.”

If you haven’t heard of this popular education phrase, there’s a good chance you’ve never read about the benefits of student blogging. Educators are learning that providing students with an authentic audience—that audience being someone other than you, their teacher—encourages them to put more passion, purpose and accountability into their work.

For example, a blog post is not just seen by you. It’s seen by their peers and can be shared with family and friends. This makes it seem more important to students that they do their best.

Use this guide to learn how to integrate blogging in your classroom.

8. You’ve never been to an Edcamp.

Edcamp is a one-day, professional development gathering, where teachers learn about new products, ideas, tools and resources that bring technology into the classroom. Attendees make the schedule depending on what the group wants to learn that day, and everyone walks away with a notebook full of ideas and a bag full of swag from local companies.

The best part: these camps take place across the country, so you may not have to drive far to attend your first one.

Not convinced? Here are 10 undeniable reasons you should attend a local Edcamp.

Are You or Aren’t You?

If you’ve found that you are in fact an EdTech newbie, now is the time to consider how you can bring these tools and ideas into your classroom. Here are a few resources to help you get started:

While the process of trying new things may seem daunting, it’s important for you to do so as a role model to your students. “Teachers need to be role models for students, showing them how to problem solve and troubleshoot when things go wrong, or when they want to learn how to do something,” said Lisa Berghoff, a special education teacher.

Do what you can with the resources and tools you have, and you’ll surely see the benefits of EdTech in your classroom.

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