As my SPU Digital Education Leadership master’s program has delved deeper into exploring the ISTE student standards, I have felt inspired to both rethink how I deliver the ninth grade English curriculum to my students and how I work with other educators to effectively implement digital tools in the classroom. This being said, I have noticed that a lot of what I’m learning about makes me feel torn in two directions. On one hand, I am eager to share the “newest and best” tool or teaching philosophy I hear about with my staff, or to try it out in my classroom. On the other hand, I’m constantly reminded of how tiresome it can be to “stay on top” of what’s happening in digital education.
In considering this imbalance, I have started to realize that the availability of digital tools often surpasses the support systems in place for students and educators to feel confident using them. This being the case, I wanted to take a minute to slow and form a more practical method for approaching digital education.
To approach this issue, I have asked myself what are the most basic technology skills necessary for one to feel confident maneuvering in an online world? My district is invested in Google Apps and we are almost fully 1:1 with Chromebooks so, in answering this question I realized that my staff and students would benefit from resources on using the basic functions of Google tools and Chromebooks. This lead me to develop two resources, which I plan on sharing with my school and which I have included below.
This first chart shares some tips for organizing the Google Drive. I choose to create this resource because, in working with students and staff alike, I realized that this was something that had previously not been addressed. Also, many were hesitant to switch to using their Google Drive from desktop files and I wanted to share some easy to follow steps for making the switch.
This second resource shares tips for working offline with Chromebooks. This had been an big concern in our district when we started going 1:1 as many realized that access to internet can greatly limit the way we use educational technology.
Additionally, I recently attended the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) where I learned about a really cool tool called Graphite by Common Sense Media. In a session titled “Identifying Quality Apps, Websites, and Games for Learning”, Cindy Etherton, of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, explained the same dilemma I have outlined above: that many educators and students feel overwhelmed by the vast pool of digital tools available. She then shared the benefits of Graphite, which include digital tool ratings and a resource that helps teachers select appropriate tools for specific tasks.
Moving forward, I hope to continue finding practical ways to help students and educators feel more confident using digital tools. With a strong support system in place, I think we will see many more learning experiences being enhanced and redefined through technology.