Cool Ways for Teachers to Bolster Their IT Skills
In today’s BYOD, 1:1, blended learning landscape, teachers sometimes have to be IT support personnel as well as educators. Connection issues, security concerns, and apps that don’t quite work can all derail even the best technology-heavy lesson.
Teachers don’t exactly have copious amounts of free time, so here are some ideas that should make your classroom run a little smoother without breaking the bank or your schedule.
Befriend—and then shadow—the technology coordinator
Every school has a primary tech support person these days, even if that person is still a part-time/full-time teacher or the media specialist. It’s a wonderful idea to make that person your best friend if you’re ever starting at a new school or have some turnover in that position, but it’s never too late to reach out.
This serves two purposes. The first is that it’s always easier to pick up the phone or shoot a quick email if something goes wrong rather than having to send a support ticket through the district. The second is that, once you’ve built up enough trust and the tech spec knows you won’t destroy their network, they might teach you some things to remedy your own issues without having to call them.
Ask your kids/niece or nephew/friend’s kids
As a teacher, you want to be as cutting edge on the latest online trends as you can be. Let’s face it: your students have forgotten the best ways to circumvent the district’s filtering software, access things they shouldn’t, and get themselves (and perhaps you) in trouble before you’ve even heard of their tricks.
The good news is that every other kid knows these things, too. Corner a kid you trust and who has no stake in lying to you and ask them what kids are doing at their school that might not exactly follow the district’s use agreement. You won’t believe what kids can do to and through supposedly secure school networks. Now you’ll know what to look for.
Take a MOOC
For those who don’t know, a Massive Open Online Course is a free college-level course available online for anyone to take. A MOOC can be time consuming, but sometimes you can just watch the lectures instead of actually doing the work. Of course, if you do the work satisfactorily you can earn a Certificate of Completion, which might look good on the resume.
Khan Academy offers a course in computer programming, which can be useful if you ever want to get into programming your own software and apps. You can take Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard for an overview of how systems work. Or just poke around some TED talks on computers and technology.
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