Conversation Change: Revisiting Basic Tech Skills

A few months ago, about an hour before day's end, a colleague shared a version of the following request with me. As I read it, I responded from a Microsoft perspective. But a part of me wondered, what would this response look like from a Google perspective? Or, an Apple point of view?Surprisingly, the blog entry I wrote took about 20 minutes to write. I have had the idea rolling around in my head for some time, so here's that blog entry from a Google Suites for Education perspective.
“Do you by chance know of a good basic list of tech skills that every teacher should know? If so, do you have a formal assessment for this?” asked a teacher recently. “We’re a Google district,” the member added. In this blog post, we’ll explore a list of expectations for teachers. We’ll also discuss some suggestions for formal assessments.

Conversation Change

When asked what my list of basic technology skills are, I head over to Google, and do a quick search. There are a million lists of basic tech skills. The real question isn’t “What are the basic tech skills teachers need to have?” but rather: “How do you fundamentally expect them to shift teaching and learning for themselves, each other, and their students?” That question is more fun.
One simple way to shift the conversation involves asking yourself “How do students in classrooms today learn best?” For example, take a look at this chart about Generation Z students:
Teachers working with Generation Z have some changes to make in their classrooms. You can break the expectations down in simple ways:
  1. Using digital media (videos/podcasts)
  2. Learning through hands-on experiences
  3. Developing team-building skills
  4. Solving real-world problems
How do these changing expectations impact basic technology skills that all teachers need?

Basic Tech Skills: A List

In the space below, you will find items relevant to the four expectations of teachers today expressed above:
  1. Using digital media (video/podcasts)
    1. Create folders to organize content.
    2. Organize files into folders, copying files from one folder to another.
    3. Work with filenames and extensions.
    4. Record screencasts with Google Slides and Screencastify/Nimbus Screen Recorder.
    5. Record a podcast with Beautiful Audio Editor Chrome Add-on online.
    6. Capture and share a whiteboard recording (audio+annotation) with Screencastify.
    7. Record and edit audio clips using programs like Beautiful Audio Editor Chrome Add-on (free).
    8. Record and edit video using programs like WeVideo.
  2. Learning through hands-on experiences
    1. Model and support the use of a stylus for learning enhancement.
    2. Create models for 3D printing using tools like My.SketchUp (free for Texas schools via TCEA), Tinkercad.
    3. Make and take in classroom-based maker spaces that incorporate coding (e.g. Creative Coding through Games and Apps (CCGA)TickleApp (view compatible drones) and DroneBlocks (view compatible drones), each of which works with different drones. This type of programming can be introduced to students using MIT’s Scratch and Scratch, Jr.
  3. Developing team-building skills
    1. Rely on GPS-enabled devices for geo-caching activities as a team or create activities for others.
    2. Have students form teams and then make a social justice video using their devices. Then publish the videos online using YouTube.
    3. Engage students in problem-based learning scenarios that require them to collaborate and communicate to solve a problem. Deepen the difficulty by separating them into different rooms (or work with another classroom) and work at a distance using an instant messaging/video technology of choice (e.g. Skype).
    4. Students can also construct virtual representations of learning tasks in virtual spaces (e.g. Aurasma).
  4. Solving real-world problems
    1. Adopt BreakOut EDU methods for use in the classroom.
    2. Encourage students to use Google Suites for Education to engage in real-world data analysis to solve problems.
    3. Create problem-based scenarios using with built-in assessment (e.g. Google Forms).
    4. Enter students in the 3D Design Contest  where they must solve an authentic problem using the design engineering process.

Bringing It All Together

If you’re working on developing teacher skills aligned to student learning needs, then here are three more tips to keep in mind:
  • Engage with Problems: Engage learners in the authentic purpose of solving a problem (problem-based learning/inquiry-based learning).
  • Encourage Collaboration and Implementation: Encourage and support adult learners as they collaborate on projects–sharing their own life experiences–focused on the creation of tangible product(s) with modeling and safe implementation opportunities.
  • Amplify Learners’ Voices with Tech: Amplify human voices with technology as they gather stories and share them (blogging, podcasts, video, media collections).

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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