New To Technology? Check Out This Handy Guide

newbieIt’s September. This is the time of year when we come back rested ready to try new things. Tech should be on that list. We use tech in every aspect of our lives. Tech in the classroom can be challenging, especially to people just getting into the edtech scene. There are problems purchasing things, getting wireless networks in place, keeping infrastructures up to date, and dealing with restrictions and blocks.  But with a little perseverance, you can become a tech master in no time.

If you are a teacher who’s new to tech but has been bitten by the tech bug, don’t worry. Help is around the corner. This week’s Learnist features are all about edtech–apps, best practices, groups that can assist, and ways you can use technology for your own professional development. These are some tried and true apps and platforms used by seasoned ed-technophiles.

There are so many apps and gadgets that it can be overwhelming. It’s important to take time to look through these boards and test new things to see how they might be useful to you.

New To Technology? Consider This…

1. Can I get this app?

Often there is a process for getting tech purchased and approved. If you have free reign over this process, that’s great. If not, then you may have to speak with your IT coordinator to show how the app will benefit your students. You might also have to be very nice to your budgeting person. If money is a problem in your district, remember that many useful apps and platforms are free or reduced for teachers.

2. How will I use this to promote learning?

Tech is exciting. Its primary purpose is to enhance the lesson, not to provide bells and whistles. Ask yourself, “Does this technology move the learning forward to the degree it should?” Sometimes, we get so excited by new technology that we don’t do a full analysis of the benefit. When that happens, we waste money or obtain tech that becomes part of the technology graveyard. This is a waste of time, effort, and resources that could have been avoided asking the proper questions upfront.

3. Can I use this?

Is there a practical delivery for this app in your classroom? Do you have enough computers? If not, is there a mobile app? Can students use it at home? We have to be creative about how we use excellent technology. When I began to blog and use Learnist, it was because I wanted to design, collect, and provide students with ancillary materials to which I didn’t have access in class. I was so new to tech I didn’t even know it as “blended learning.” I just knew I wanted something relevant for my classroom. I identified my pain points, and used appropriate platforms to fix them.

4. Who will help me?

Often, people who are new to tech are hesitant because it looks flashy or hard. Being new, it’s easy to be confused about where to start or the questions to ask. This was the case for me. I’m into my second year blending my classroom. I now know that when I have a question or need support, there are millions of people to ask, literally. Twitter chats such as #edtechchat on Monday nights are my usual go-to spot asking for thoughts, help, or suggestions.Even if you do not yet tweet, there is certain to be someone at your school or nearby who can help. There are even organizations such as Rhode Island’s EdUnderground full of tech-loving teachers who would be glad to answer questions.

5. What should I use?

That’s the million-dollar question. You must first define your goals, then look at your tech policies, resources, and infrastructure. Only then can you decide. There are apps and platforms that will do just about anything. You may choose to digitize your entire classroom system, or just start off small with a blog.

Whatever you decide, if you are new, I suggest picking one or two things to use–whether it’s your smartboard, blogging, tweeting, curation, notetaking, screen capture tools, videos, or presentation creators. Pick an area of technology in which you are interested and find an app in that category. It could be art, research, music, curation–pick something you love and have fun. Get the technology into the flow of your classroom. Play with other things on the side, but don’t integrate too much too soon. While you’re learning, less is more. That gives you time to have fun and watch your students enjoy the lessons, too.

Tech done right makes the class fly by, makes less work for the teacher, and makes students want to learn.  If you’re new to tech use the following slogan, “peruse, choose, and use.” You’ll be glad you did.

Tablets and Tech and Literacy, Oh My!

This board shows ways you can use tablets in the classroom, providing articles showing ways to scale up the difficulty, and low-cost apps to promote literacy.

iPhone, iPad, and Android Apps for Single-device Classrooms

Is yours the only device in the class? Don’t worry, we’ve got an app for that. These things will make life easier, even if you’re not loaded with laptops.

Classroom Management Apps That Will Simplify Your LIfe

You can use apps to help your class run smoothly. Reward apps, timers, and class grouping and organization help make class flow.

EdTech Dictionary

There are so many buzzwords being created in education that it’s difficult to keep up. This board helps you learn edtech speak painlessly with the EdTechDictionary.

Google in the Classroom

Google is free and everywhere. It can help students collaborate remotely, help you to record lessons and conversations for people who are missing, help with presentations, research, collect responses and work with other professionals. The classroom uses are endless.

Apps for Kids With Special Needs

So many special needs students benefit from technology. Students with mild special needs find that some apps can help them be successful in the classroom. The right tech app brings victories to students with more severe special needs.

14 Free Chemistry Apps

Chemistry can come alive with the right apps and supplements. You can build an atom or see chemical reactions safely with these apps. Simulations like these make science exciting.

Education in a Digital World

The world is changing. Technology is at the heart of this. How will your teaching change in the digital world? Are you ready?

iPad Apps for Math and Science

If you’re new to tech and  you happen to have iPads, you’ll want some of these math and science apps.

Web Tools for the Classroom

Mykel Salazar shares some old favorites that you may not have used yet if you’re just falling in love with tech. Give some of these tools a try and see if you can work them into the rotation.