The old cliche says that teachers take summers off to play. However, there are quite a few who use those two months (it ain’t three anymore!) to further their own learning.
This week we had 250 educators who gave up some of their "break" to attend a full day of training and learn more about how technology could improve their teaching.
I always enjoy these sessions for a number of reasons. For one thing, the participants are very motivated and involved. They came because they wanted to, not because someone told them to. It’s always more fun when the audience is participating rather than just sitting like lumps.
For another, almost all of these folks have a good basic understanding of how to use their computer. Unfortunately, there are far too many of the tech clueless still in the classroom – but they don’t usually volunteer to come to training.
I certainly don’t expect everyone to be an expert on this stuff (I’d be out of a job!). However, it’s not too much to ask intelligent, professional adults to do the work necessary to achieve a basic level of tech competency.
So, what basic computer skills should a teacher have? A couple of weeks back David Warlick reacted to an article in which the writer offered twenty basic computer skills all educators should have. In the end, David thought the list could be summarized into four areas.
1. Selecting and Accessing digital information.
2. Processing digital information.
3. Producing and communicating digital information.
4. Ethical practices in using digital information.
With the possible exception of the last one, I think these four – and the original 20 – could be boiled down to one overarching skill: communications.
That should be the point of investing in all this hardware, software and networks. Teachers should be able to use the technology to better communicate with their students (not to mention parents).
More importantly, we need to understand how to help students learn to use the tools to better communicate with the world. It’s not about telling the teacher and the class what you know and think anymore. Students should be able to tell everyone they can.
This week, I’d like to think we assisted some educators with their communications skills.