Last week’s soapbox blog asked everyone to upgrade their use of technology. Now let’s get to the more practical advice–how to upgrade. There are several ways to improve educational technology skills. Take a look at the following list for ideas.
Of course YouTube tops the list as the go-to place for how-to videos. Sometimes it’s as easy as a search for a single video, like “how do I use Kahoot?,” which will bring up several videos ready to teach you the simple Kahoot platform. You can also look at different playlists or YouTube channels for more in-depth tutorials on specific platforms or educational technology in general. Examples of general educational technology channels are Richard Byrne’s FreeTech4Teachers and Jamie Keet’s Teacher’s Tech. By clicking on “playlists” within these channels, you can see playlists organized around specific technologies, such as Google or Padlet. Special hint: When searching for technologies on YouTube, it’s best to look for recency of posts, number of subscribers/views, and the ratings given to the specific videos.
If your institution has subscribed to Lynda.com, or if you’re willing to pay your own way, you will have a wealth of in-depth resources for a multitude of programs. If you want to learn advanced Excel, Lynda.com has it in video, transcript, and even exercise formats. If you want a specific program for graphic design or for research software, Lynda.com has it. If you need to learn something well, it’s definitely worth the investment. (P.S. If you happen to be at my institution, we currently have a license for all faculty, staff, and students to use this for free! You can go to this site and type in your university email and password to access it or see if your institution has a license: Institutional single sign-on for Lynda.com).
Many sites come complete with their own documentation and video tutorials. For example, Google has a dedicated space for educators. This is especially useful since many institutions have adopted gmail as their main student (and sometimes faculty) mailing system. If you have a very specific technology you’d like to get to know, it’s often best to go to the source for documentation and tutorials.
Ed Tech social media
Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, each have their own in-house educational technology groups, posts, and conversations. On Facebook, you can either simply “like” a page to get their news feeds or you can actually join a group to have deeper conversations relevant for your needs. Twitter, of course, is driven more by businesses, people, and hashtags. Follow specific individuals or businesses and look for hashtags to learn more about technologies and pedagogies. Pinterest and other social media each have their unique ways of highlighting educational technologies, too. Experimentation and searching are key in these sites.
Ed Tech at conferences
If you’d really like to up your game, look specifically for educational technology conferences, or even ed tech special interest groups in your field.
Finally, most institutions have in-house specialists for many platforms. Give us a call! We like to hear from you!