December 25, 2015 by Dr. Robbie Barber
I am taking the end of the year 2015 as a moment to think about what is and is not working when I teach teachers how to use #edtech. I know that some of the teachers will not use social media (Twitter, Yammer, etc.) and requiring it will not bring about change. Some teachers will insist on learning one-on-one only. While I would love to do that, the reality is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to allow it. Yet it mimics what we are trying to provide to our students. So I have five resolutions to help walk my teachers to the use of #edtech in the classroom. These focus on the teachers. I am not resolving to try new #edtech because honestly, that’s what I do for fun anyway.
#1: Do Not Give Up on Any Teacher
There are those teachers that make you want to bang your head against the wall. You’ve found ten ways to help them and none of them work. It’s frustrating for you and you may not realize that it’s frustrating for them too.
It’s time to find the 11th way. One of the most common problems when teaching #edtech is figure out the starting point. Assume there is a technical illiteracy and start teaching from the basics. What is a computer? How does a program work? What is a website? What is the internet? Back to basics often works. And I promise not to give up!
#2: Make More Mini-Movies
Mini-movies, less than 3 minutes, seem to work well for a lot of people. I personally get irritated with movies instead of instructions, but for those not comfortable, showing often works better than telling. So I’m going to flip my own classroom. I’m going to make more movies. I will also provide text and links to other websites. More variety but I’ll start with short, simple movies.
#3: Redesign the Website
Once I make more mini-movies, I need to offer them in a location. Loading them in Dropbox or Google drive is not going to provide the organization my teachers need. And my old website is organized by the date of the class. This is clearly NOT usable.
I need to focus on function over form. Rather than create a streaming website that is based on my dates or needs, I need to organize the website in sections for teachers. Each section needs to be easy to get to (no more than 2 clicks away), easy to find, and easy to use. And easy to add new items too. That’s an important design feature.
#4: Share More – Especially Sharing My Mistakes
I say often that I make a lot of mistakes but in review I don’t talk about what they actually were. I have made lots of promises to blog more. Here’s another one, with more focus. I will blog more. I can’t fix all mistakes. Sometimes I abandon the idea and head off in a different direction. I will outline my mistakes and talk about the solution I came up with or the alternate direction I went in. I will also blog about successes. Possibly the most often blog will be asking questions. By asking questions in essay form, it helps me to understand the problem better. Can I do once a month? Yes. Will I? I certainly hope so. Only 2016 will tell.
#5: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
This falls under a lot of headings. Learn to say “no.” Set time limits. Leave your work at work. None of those actually work for me. So instead I’m going to try to limit my resolutions. All of these resolutions lead into one another. With a little organization, I can do them. It helps me to have a reachable goal and each one of these is reachable. Next year, I plan to resolve to learn to say “no.” Really.