We have all heard someone talk about or be referred to as a ‘tech savvy teacher’, but what does that mean? They use their interactive whiteboard everyday and can programme a floor robot without looking at the instructions? Webanywhere believes that all teachers are tech savvy, but to different levels. If you look on Twitter you will see teachers sharing their planning and add links to fabulous websites to use in the classroom. The other end of the spectrum is a teacher that comfortably uses software and a some well chosen websites in their lessons. Using ICT and technology has to enhance your lesson, if it makes it more difficult and you lose the flow of learning then it is not worth it.
You will find many articles describing and celebrating the ‘tech savvy teacher’ and they are good. Often there are lists of attributes that identify the ‘tech savvy teacher’ and you feel inadequate and bored before item 5. We do not want you to do that to you. At Webanywhere we want to celebrate all teacher’s use of ICT and technology and to give you the confidence to possibly move out of your comfort zone and try something new. We have read the above mentioned articles and would like to offer our interpretation.
Your students read your blog
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will have a professional blog where they share their experiences as a teacher, more aimed at colleagues in the teaching profession but their students like to check it out and comment. Or more realistically you have a class blog where you share class information, homework and resources that you use in class. It will also record what is going to happen in your classroom by your pupils and yourself. To take it one step further it may appear on your school website and parents also comment on the blog, after all it is a fabulous way to keep parents informed and actively engage with them.
You instigate your own CPD online
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ attends in-house training and staff meetings but that may not be where they learn about ICT and technology in a creative and innovative way. So they look to their Twitter feed and Facebook friends. They also read educators’ blogs and learn how to use a variety of new digital learning resources. Then they attend online courses and meetings and contribute to wikis. At a more realistic level you may look at a website that a colleague has told you about with lots of ideas for your lessons, it may or may not include ICT and technology.
You have made an online PLN
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ has a professional, or personal, learning network with whom they engage on a regular basis, possibly work together to maintain a wiki or website and regularly give and receive support regarding teaching and non-teaching information. At the other end of the spectrum you are already in a PLN but did not realise it. You collaborate with colleagues in your school and maybe further a field with your school cluster or colleagues that have moved on. You email each other with help and new ideas and resources that you find.
You share your life with virtual colleagues you have never met
This might sound horrific and contravene all the e-safety messages you know and pass on to your students. But there are those out there that do this. The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ PLN is so tight and such a regular part of their life that they think nothing of sharing family events and personal achievements with them just like you would your family and friends. They follow people on Twitter that they have never met and congratulated them when announcing the safe arrival of a new bundle of joy! At a more basic level you may share your professional life with others by sharing activities and resources that you have created and used in your class. Learnanywhere and Jotter Learn customers do this on a regular basis and are part of those learning network.
Your weekly schedule involves Twitter chats
Where have you been? These are very popular and a great place to interact with like minded people. The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will most definitely partake in such events. #UKEdChat is a very popular meeting on Twitter for the education community. They vote on the topic and all meetup on Twitter at a preset time and search tweets with #ukeduchat and join in. The conversation is recorded and can be viewed later on their dedicated website. These people will be in the The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ PLN and they will share their life with them. When you break this down you will most likely find that you do talk with your virtual colleagues, who are now your newly discovered PLN, about many topics that directly relate to your teaching practices. Whether it is asking for advice or sharing experiences. It is all valuable.
Summer break means ISTE and other conferences
No teacher has six weeks off, lets get that out there. You all do research and plan lessons and create resources for September during the summer holidays. SMT members are more likely to attend conferences during the summer break but the ‘tech savvy teacher’ will know what is going on and join in. But will it be totally relevant and useful to the new school year for them? Then there are the local conferences and meetings that you may arrange for your colleagues. You meet up and discuss topics for the new school year or go and visit places that you would like to visit with your students later on.
You know the vocabulary
Well more like acronyms and abbreviations, VLE, LMS and even LOL! The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will speak using these and even create their own. But you know what some of them mean and you don’t mind saying learning platform instead of LP. With the knowing comes the understanding of it. As long as you understand it in your context then all is good.
You turn to colleagues in other countries in times of need
Thinking back to the The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ online PLN and how they interact with them all of the time, like 24/7. They can do this because their PLN is global. So someone is always online and available to offer advice. It’s great! Just as great, but may take more time to react, is the newly discovered PLN made up of colleagues in your school, your area and maybe just a little further a field.
You are a digital citizen
One hundred percent accurate. The ‘tech savvy teacher’ has the technology, the online presence on all the popular social networking and media sites. They are a good citizen, respectful to others and will not tolerate cyberbullying in any form. They don’t even like pictures of friends on Facebook that are anything less than flattering. They also instill this into their students and e-safety is a familiar phrase in the classroom. Looking at this from a different angle you do not need to have a comprehensive online presence at all. But the rest fits exactly. K. Mossberger, et al, define digital citizens as “those who use the Internet regularly and effectively”* You already do that, well most of the time!.
* Mossberger, Karen. “Digital Citizenship. the Internet.society and Participation By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal.” Scribd. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. (https://bit.ly/1tzEnUP)
You are always hungry to learn, try and tinker with new tech
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will have RSS feeds setup to notify them of new releases of gadgets, apps and software. They will most likely have an iPhone, an iPad and an iMac all with the same apps loaded on them. They are always contactable, online and their cloud space is permanently 95% full. But can they then learn to use one thing really well and use it successfully in their classroom? You, on the other hand, might investigate new technologies and apps that take your interest and you think could be of use to you in the classroom or in your personal life. You take an interest in what technology, websites and gadgets that your students use and sometimes pick up a gem for yourself.
We hope that you recognise yourself throughout this article and can smile as you know you are doing a fabulous job. If you are still not convinced just watch your students next time you are using technology or digital learning content with them, you will see them buzzing with excitement and totally engaged.