I get that question from different people: parents, teachers, friends, on Twitter, and the occasional stranger who finds out what I do for a living. It's an important question because it calls on us to also question *why* we must keep up.
Children are growing up in the digital age, the information age, the age of digital natives. It's important to keep up because we are the digital role models of these children. We must model good digital citizenship and we must also model what it means to be resourceful in the digital age. Being resourceful with technology means taking your learning into your own hands and not being afraid to click some buttons! Here are five tips I have for keeping up with evolving technology.
1. Follow people/organizations on Twitter who have great tips on tech integration. They have been searching for new tools and they'll tweet about it. If a tool sounds interesting to you, go to the site/app they mentioned and start clicking around. You won't break it! Here are just a few Twitter accounts I recommend:
- Edutopia @edutopia
- Kasey Bell @ShakeUpLearning
- Amy Mayer @friEdTechnology
- EdSurge @EdSurge
- Leslie Fisher @lesliefisher
- Memorial Elementary @MemorialPISD
2. The nice thing about living in the information age is the availability of online tutorials. If you've got a question about how to use a tool, you're probably not alone. YouTube is an amazing resource! Just type in the name of the site/app in the search bar within YouTube and you're likely to find some very helpful tutorial videos.
3. Google is probably your go-to search engine and there you can also find instructions, ideas, and tutorials by simply entering the site/app name in search bar. When viewing the search results, locate sites containing reviews, blogs, and other support materials for that site/app.
3. Check out the website of a school district's instructional technology department. Many times, they will list popular sites/apps being used in their classrooms. Here is a shameless plug to mine.
4. Ask a nerd! I am a nerd and I don't mind one bit when people ask me to recommend sites/apps. It's my pleasure to help someone learn how to use them in their classrooms. Nerds are very nice people and we want to help. You only have to ask. :)
5. Finally, my advice is to talk to students you know. Talk to them and ask questions about what apps they use and why they like them. They'll possibly mention things you've never heard of and that shouldn't scare you. Write down what they say. Google/YouTube it. Go to the site/app and start playing. Jump in!
Technology is not going away. It moves at a lightning pace. We must keep up because in the words of Gary Stager, "You can't expect to teach 21st century learners if you have not learned in this century."