My A-Z of EdTech

A is for appsmashing. Using more than one app to produce something. See here and this one from @IdeasFactory here.

B is for blogging. Whether you’re doing it yourself or with your classroom, it’s a great reflective tool. If you’re blogging with your class, check out @DeputyMitchell‘s Quadblogging.

C is for collaboration. There are so many tools for this – Twitter to collaborate with other educators, Google Apps for developing learning dialogues between teachers and learners, communal subject-based Dropboxes, and that’s barely scratching the surface. Collaborating with others benefits everybody, and you just need to find the tool that works best for you.

D is for digital leaders. Harness the power of your students: have them work with staff, encourage use of technology and get them excited about and engaged with their learning. I love @rlj1981’s digital leader application video, and Mark Anderson’s book on getting a digital leader group started.

E is for equitable access. If you’re using technology, you need to keep in mind that not everybody has the same access to hardware. Does your school provide IT facilities for students to access outside of school hours? If you’re expecting students to access online resources at home, are they available on multiple platforms?

F is for flipped learning. I’m just getting started with this, but I’ve been doing the research for some time and I’m excited to really get the ball rolling in September. Apps like Explain Everything are perfect for this.

is for Google. I’m a Google fangirl. If you’re not using Google Apps, why not?

H is for Haiku Deck. I love the image-heavy, text-light presentations you can create with them. I wrote about them previously.

I is for imagination. It might be a cliche to say that you’re only limited by your own imagination, but these days it’s true. Harness the power of your PLN or digital leaders if you’re feeling stuck.

J is for joining in. Embracing the EdTech community has many benefits, not the least of which is constant support. There are also CPD opportunities – my involvement with and attendance at #PedagooSW came about through connections made on social media (see also Twitter, below). Teachmeets are another great way to connect with other educators and are quite local.

K is for konfidence. “Fake it till you make it.” Get it? You need confidence to use technology in your classroom, but you’re going to be shaky to begin with. Like everything else we do in front of students, try not to show your weakness, and enjoy the small wins which will encourage you to stretch your skills a little bit more. If in doubt, flip things and empower your students to be the teacher!

L is for learning. This needs to be at the heart of using EdTech, otherwise it’s tech for the sake of tech. The platform matters far less than the pedagogy.

M is for mastery. To be more exact, it’s kind of the opposite of mastery. Who ever mastered the interactive whiteboard software? Does it matter now? Technology moves at such a rapid pace that it’s not possible to master everything, but it’s important to master the basics so that you can adapt your skills to suit new needs.

N is for necessary. I’ve often seen teachers using technology for the sake of it. What’s the pedagogical value in ‘make a powerpoint’? It’s easy, but it isn’t always necessary. Sometimes the analogue methods are the best.

O is for originality. Using tech is a great way to allow students to produce work in new and creative ways – from comic books to videos to augmented reality, I’m sure that students have got ideas on how they can improve on our practice, if only we give them the power to do so.

P is for Planboard. I use it in place of a paper teacher planner. Again, I’ve written about it previously.

Q is for QR codes. They’re a fantastic short cut to use in lessons, in display materials – anywhere. Students can quickly and easily access resources (even better if they’re using 1:1 devices or BYOD). There’s plenty of free QR code readers around, and lots of resources, like Padlet, have a built in QR code generator.

R is for remixing. I was doing it without putting a label on it until I saw @rlj1981 at #PedagooSW. Make the analogue digital, or mix it up – either way, think about doing what you’ve always done in new ways.

S is for safety. eSafety is a core part of safeguarding procedures and must be embedded in any lesson using technology. Your school should have a policy relating to this and it’s important that you know what it contains. Ofsted may want schools to unlock the internet, but teaching students digital citizenship is necessary.

T is for Twitter (naturally). It’s the source of great CPD, great networking, and great support.

U is for users. You have to meet the need of all users – yourself, your students (who will have varying skill levels), and perhaps other staff. If your students are using technology, do you need to explicitly teach skills (e.g. research and referencing) to some or all of them? Do your support staff know how to do what you’re asking the students to do? Can you stretch your high ability students? Can you collaborate with other users (in your school, your community, globally)?

V is for vision. What’s the long term plan when using technology? What’s your school’s IT vision? What do you need to make the vision a reality?

W is for workflow. Technology is supposed to make things easier, not harder, and mobile devices including tablets are perfect for easing workload through improved workflow. It can be as simple as taking a photo, having it automatically upload to Google Drive, and then exporting straight into a presentation using Haiku Deck or Keynote.

X is for eXcitement. Yep, I cheated. My students get excited every time they get to use technology and the work they produce is often of a higher standard than using analogue methods. It takes training and you need to build a culture, but it’s worth the effort.

Y is for youthful enthusiasm. No matter how many patronising Barclays’ ads there are, age isn’t a barrier to successfully using technology. Some of my most enthusiastic and advanced members of staff are nearing retirement. Anybody with a desire to try can reap the benefits of EdTech.

Z is for (Plan) Z. Technology fails, especially when you desperately need it to work. Being observed? Projector dies. Ofsted in? No wifi. Back up plans are necessary, as is the ability to think on your feet to figure out an alternative when things go wrong.

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