Tech-savvy – it’s one of those elusive qualities, like charisma or dress sense. Some people seem to just have it, the rest of us mere mortals stumble behind, struggling to make sense of the latest Windows update.
But as the world of education (and to be honest the world in general) becomes more tech-focused, the skills of the tech-savvy are increasingly a requirement for the majority.
Fortunately for all those self-labeled ‘technology illiterates,’ or anyone who wishes they had a bit more of a handle on classroom technology, the good news is that you too can become versed in the magic of tech wizardry. With some well-directed effort, you can become a confident EdTech practitioner.
So what can you do to improve your confidence with edtech? Check out our top tips:
— Kami (@usekamiapp) October 8, 2019
1.Understand the why
Every achievement starts with intent. If you don’t understand why you are aiming for something, or worse, you resent it, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed.
So why is it that you should get to grips with edtech? There are a ton of benefits to classroom technology that will both improve your life as an educator and also increase the engagement, collaboration and creativity of your students. Check out some of the key ways technology contributes to learning.
2. Set goals
Learning any new skill can feel overwhelming. It’s essential that you set achievable goals early on so you can monitor progress and keep up your motivation. Try to avoid unquantifiable targets like: ‘be better with my computer’ or even scarier sounding ones like ‘learn to code.’
Instead, focus on a specific area that will make your work and home technology experiences smoother and easier to manage. For example, you could aim to master the classroom smartboard, learn some troubleshooting basics or become confident with a couple education apps. Remember, no goal is too small if it makes a notable improvement to your tech experience. Having a strong foundation in the basics is the easiest way to make big improvements.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) September 30, 2019
3. Start with the computer basics
A great initial step for anyone looking to improve their tech skills is to take yourself back to the ICT classroom. Computers and the software that they run are complex creations, but there is a fundamental logic that guides their user interfaces.
Understanding the building blocks of the technology you are using will help you to better identify the pathways needed to take action and the likely results of certain combinations of input. An added bonus is that nailing some of the key ICT vocabulary will make deciphering instruction manuals and talking to help centers much easier!
4. Learn about data security
The whole world can’t shut up about the importance of data privacy – and there are very good reasons for that. There is a hack attempt on average every 39 seconds according to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland, and the more unsecure your passwords, the more likely they are to succeed.
With so much at stake getting a firm grasp of the concepts around data security, including how and why you should implement them, are essential building blocks for your wider technical education. You don’t need to go to get a degree in IT but learning about what hackers are looking for and how you can protect yourself will help to establish safe tech habits, which will, in turn, help your students better protect themselves.
5. Experiment on your own
Practice makes perfect. It’s very hard to learn a practical skill entirely theoretically – so make sure you are using your skills whenever you can. There is no better way to improve your confidence than experimenting in your own time, away from any judgment, and simply seeing what you can do.
Press that button, see if you can navigate back, or totally uninstall your operating system and see if you can set it up again.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) September 26, 2019
6. Learn from others
Sharing knowledge and collaborating with fellow staff members, or even students, is a great way to quickly pick up new methods and skills. This could be in an ad hoc fashion. For example, when the tech instructor comes to fix your laptop make sure to ask her what she is doing and why, or more formalized in a PD session. Find friends or family who are prepared to sit down with you for a couple of minutes a week to explain a software application or troubleshoot. The more you watch and emulate other’s skills the more you will build your own expertise.
7. Use the internet
There is no better place to learn about tech than from one of its most successful resources! The internet, particularly YouTube, offers a wealth of training resources and tools that can help you with just about any task. Use it.
Look up specific questions and follow the instruction guides, or find useful explainers on Youtube and watch 5 minutes in your lunch break. Subscribing to newsletters is also a great way to keep up to date with an area that interests you, and social media groups or forums are a fantastic place to exchange tips with other educators. Dive in and glory in all the resources you can find.
8. Make improvement a habit
Finally, the best way to make consistent improvement is to make your self-education a habit. Be as realistic as possible – 2 hours of studying at the weekend sounds pretty offputting to most people! Instead try squeezing in 5 minutes every evening, or even better, make others hold you accountable by organizing a biweekly coffee with similarly motivated friends to discuss and practice together.
At Kami we passionately believe that technology is an invaluable tool for education. To learn more about the world of EdTech, check out our blog.