In 2011, my husband and I were very excited to get our first iPad – 1st Generation. We quickly loaded it up with apps for us and our son Owen, who was three at the time. About six months into using our iPad, Owen was playing with it and I noticed that he was pretty quiet and looked over at him. The iPad screen lit up and dimmed down again. I thought, “Oh great! What did he break?” When I asked him what he did he kind of shrugged and showed me which buttons he pushed. Come to find out, he had taken a screenshot of the game his was playing. I didn’t even know that was a “thing” that the iPads could do! How did this little toddler figure it out before his mother did!?!
Our students are the same as my little Owen – who, by the way, just turned ten this month. They are so eager to try the latest techie gadget without fear of breaking it. As teachers in the 21st century, we need to be willing to try new technologies. It’s not ok to hide under the “I’m not very techie” umbrella. Just like Owen, our students are growing up in a high-tech world. We need to be able to meet them where they are and grow with them.
One doesn’t become “techie” overnight but I have learned a few lessons over the years and can share a few tips to move you along in your tech journey.
Tip 1: Start with what you DO know. You may not know EVERY app, feature, program, or device, but I bet you do know some. Start there. Begin building your “tech toolbox” of go-to apps or programs. One of my favorites to use with kids is PowToons. It’s a simple web-based movie maker. You even have the option to turn your movie into a slideshow/PowerPoint.
Tip 2: Learn from others. If you are not sure how to do something, ask. Find your “go to” person in your building to help you with tech questions. It could be a fellow teacher, coach, or even a tech savvy student. You may think that you are bothering them, but more than likely, they are happy to help you.
Tip 3: Google and YouTube are your friend. Whenever I need to know how to do something, I Google Search it. Most of the time, someone has already created a video on YouTube on how fix your tech problem.
Tip 4: Take risks! Back in 1998, my parents got their first PC. I loved that thing and our dial up network! I wanted to stretch the limits of what it could do and tried to download everything under the sun. Well, do that too many times and you will most definitely download a virus or two. But therein lies the lesson, you have to be willing to fail in order to grow. If you are too scared that you might break something…see Tip 2 or 3.
Learning new technologies will be a lifelong skill for our students. We have to be there to support them and push their thinking.
I’d love to hear your Tech Tips!! Comment below and let others know how you make technology work for you.