Monday, December 15, 2014

Toolbox for Keeping up With the Latest EdTech!

Staying on top of the latest tech might seem virtually impossible. Maybe you've thought/heard this before, "I learn one tool, use it, love it, and then the next day there's something new. How can I keep up?" Or, "How can I possibly learn every App out there? Not to mention how they work and on which device/OS?" Teachers have expressed this concern to me and, admittedly, I, too, have felt overwhelmed by all the tech choices and changes. You are NOT alone! I made a list of strategies that have helped me to stay afloat. You CAN keep up!
  • Let the learners choose the tech. Students/staff LOVE having choices. For a task that, for example, requires them to showcase their learning, tell them to select a tech tool of their choice. You can guide them by listing choices like PowToon, ChatterPix, Piktochart, and Google Slides. By giving your learners options, they will take ownership of the learning, and thus work harder to create something they can be proud of. Oh, and you are guaranteed to learn something new from them!
  • Hold yourself accountable. Start blogging about tech tools you've tried (and maybe even failed at!). Then you REALLY have to learn and use the technology to be able to give a testimonial that is published for the world see. Readers will LOVE to hear the pros and cons of what has/has not worked for you. Build a support network. Start/join a tech team or PLC at your school. Sponsor a student tech club. Follow edtech leaders on Twitter. Follow edtech leaders' blogs. If you hold yourself accountable, you are more likely to accomplish your goal of staying abreast of tech tools that students and teachers are using.
  • Have a Can-Do attitude. When planning your next unit, pick a tech tool you've learned about that you think could enhance a lesson. Chances are, the technology will engage your students and consequently improve the learning outcome! Read an example of how ChatterPix helped a 4th Grade unit in my fabulous colleague Clara's blog. Whether you're afraid of technology, a guru, or the only one on your team who is willing to spice up your classroom with technology, be a pioneer! Lead the pack with your can-do attitude and people will follow.
  • Never stop learning. Attend an EdCamp (like EdCampDallas every October or EdCampAwesome every February). Participate in a Twitter Chat (see the Twitter Chat Schedule) like #PISDEdChat Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. CST. Subscribe to an edtech magazine. Even if it's just reading one article a week on your favorite edtech website (Edudemic is mine!), you are learning something new! 
So, then next time you're feeling like you can't keep up with the latest and greatest technology, think back on all that you DO know and start with one of the strategies above. Just do it!