When confronted with the question: What tech skills do you want your kids to know by the end of primary school? I was forced to reflect on my IT education and where and when I obtained it. It seemed that most of my own IT education was self taught. Playing computer games, exploring the internet with basic search engines like Alta Vista. Today, employers and society expect 10 essential tech skills in order to cope with this dynamic experience we call life!
- Typing – The force that enables all that we do on computers. Say goodbye to two-finger typing, enter touch typing.
- Word/Excel/Powerpoint – Children need something to do other than surfing the internet. Knowing and understanding these 3 programs prepares students to perform other functions on the computer. From word processing to spreadsheets with basic formulas to presentations for the class, using these programs are an essential skill.
- Email – A powerful form of communication. Students should know how to write emails with the correct intended tone as well as functionality like ‘reply all’ and ‘BCC’. Additionally, email management is never too early to learn (I only wish my expert email management transferred into my real life).
- Internet Search – Ever tried to find your needle in a handful of needles? The ability to trawl through search engines, know which sites to trust and how to research effectively is absolutely essential for students to learn.
- Social Media – Remember the ‘Truman Show’? Now it’s real life! Students need to be aware that their digital footprint can be accessed by the world. They must be taught to manage their online profiles properly as well as managing cyber bullying whether they’re victims, bullies or bystanders. Facebook and Twitter have opened the world to new dimensions but interacting in this world has to be monitored.
- Texting/Mobile Technology – Using mobile devices in schools is becoming ever increasing and knowing how to text with intended tone and meaning is important.
Photo Courtesty of StoneySteiner (Flickr)
Computer Hardware (data knowledge) – Why don’t teachers teach data as part of maths? Understanding relative terms like 1000MG=1GB is becoming increasingly important. Also, recognising ‘that stick thingie’ as a USB and other parts of the computer is essential to any child’s technical knowledge base.
- Cross OS understanding – Apple and PC’s are chalk and cheese – rhyme aside, it’s imperative to know how to use both operating systems. Especially with iPads entering schools and many schools using PC’s/Android OS, it’s highly valuable to understand both systems.
- Protecting against viruses – Students should be familiar with virus protection, what a virus is, what it does and how it does it.
- Knowing when enough is enough – Our world is becoming increasingly digital and online and one of the most important skills is to realise when it’s time to take a break. Students need to be taught how to recognise the symptoms of being on the computer/device for too long.
As long as your student can master the 10 skills above, they will not only be ready for the next step in their education but for numerous opportunities in the world in front of them.
Why are people happier to lose their wallet rather than their iPhone or iPad? The iDevices are very personal devices. They allow one to completely personalise their device to their liking and in that it becomes part of them. A fraction of their soul if you will 🙂 Wallets are replaceable – money is replaceable – credit cards are replaceable but the iPad and the other iDevices are a representation of one’s self. I’d be devastated if I lost either but it would break my heart to lose my iPad!
Photo taken by MC Morgan
Welcome 2012 – Year of Exploration
The personal nature of the iPad has encouraged me to reflect on our iPad deployment at school and with the hardworking IT coordinator we have been able to secure a significant number of additional iPads at school. This increase will enable the upper grades to be at a 1:1 ratio of device to student. This increase will allow students to collaborate and connect to the content and each other with ease. The production of content and accessibility to powerful educational apps and user-friendly functions are all part of preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist. I’m not saying teachers and schools are career making factories but if we can prepare our students for what’s out there and what’s inevitably coming then we’ve done the right thing.
This year for me and my colleagues will be about exploring the true impact of the iPad in the classroom. We have a big task ahead but we are at ground zero of true leadership in the area. Our desire to use the iPad’s as learning enablers will soar by planning and embedding the use of the technology into our programs. As Tony Vincent concurs in his advice about Project Based Learning in Hand, he alerts us to mobile technology making great learning tools because they motivate students and lend themselves to student voice and choice (for elaboration on this watch his video here).
For updates on my school’s iPad deployment from the ground up, watch this space!
Entering the Twittersphere
Background: I reluctantly signed up for Twitter a year ago because my understanding of the social network was that it was.. just another social network. I started to follow celebs, news reporters, my beloved Manly Sea Eagles players and found that the cliche of tweeting “I’m on the toilet, come look at how big…” was true. One of my colleagues who followed me approached me and proceeded to hound my misuse of the ever-growing social network. He directed me onto some fascinating Tweeps (people using Twitter) and I instantly felt more connected than ever before. I have since discarded the superficial, bland celebs for educational gurus and now I get PD (professional development) by the minute!
Impact on Education: I am absolutely, unequivocally addicted to Twitter. I refresh my page every moment I can with the hope of coming across a new and exciting resource/paper/website/etc to integrate in my classroom. It’s the real-time interaction that I get aroused by. Today, so much of what I find has impacted my teaching practice and has offered me engaging resources to share and thus accessing PD by the minute.
Twitter is about finding something that grabs your attention. According to the @Twitter Blog, in March 2011 approx. 140 million tweets were being sent a day and that’s a tonne of tweets to filter through. I don’t care for how to treat my dog’s fleas or what hair colour Julia Gillard uses. I find the true beauty of Twitter lying in it’s hashtag created groups and 3rd party clients that organise your account for you like Tweetdeck and Twirl. Some hashtags that I include in my education related tweets include:
#edchat #ausedchat #ukedchat #ozteachers #edtech #edapp #mathchat
Some great educational tweeps I follow include:
@LearningToday @web20classroom @Ideas_Factory @WeAreTeachers @rmbyrne @TeacherToolkit @CreativeEdu @JesseSBlack @iTech4Ed @rhp123 @NMHS_Principal @ICTmagic
I’ve lost count of how many opportunities I’ve had to interact with amazingly talented, smart and insightful people on Twitter. It has also spurred on my own adaptations for integration. For example, Twitter can work wonderfully as an opinion poll collecting a bunch of data and using it how you see fit. Twitter can be used in Maths, HSIE/Science or English allowing you to retrieve instant feedback on any question as long as you direct your questions appropriately. Things to remember about Twitter:
- Twitter is the ultimate tool for collaboration and networking (not the only one but definitely one of the best!)
- Don’t feel guilty not replying to every tweet under the sun
- It takes up time and takes you away from teaching
- It breaks news faster than any other communication channel
- It gives your critics a forum allowing you to also study them and adjust practices
- Build a community of like-minded twitterers
- Don’t tweet solely about education – be human!
- Tweet about things that happen in your classroom – your students will love it!
- On Twitter people have a higher level of honesty so you will get sincere feedback
- Twitter brings great minds together and is great for staff development
That’s my introduction to Twitter. I’m sure there are dozens of fun, exciting ways of using Twitter in the classroom and I’m curious about how other people use it to enhance their professional development or teaching.
I encourage every educator to join and start accessing PD by the minute!