I can’t believe I’m doing one of these numbered-tips styled postings, but these ideas have been on my mind lately. So here are my four tips to becoming a more digitally engaged educator.
First, use your mobile device in the classroom. An IDC Research report states, “49% of the entire US population uses a smart phone” (source). That percentage is projected to reach 68% in four years. Students need to see teachers modeling how to use the device properly. So pull it out to Google an answer, scan a QR Code, text or tweet a positive behavior, etc. But, also show the students when it is appropriate to leave the device in your pocket as to not distract others. Our example will show students that this is an everyday tool used for purpose not just play.
Second, as mentioned above, use QR Codes. These are powerful means to help students get to selected material. When grading an assignment, place a QR Code next to a question the student answered incorrectly; when scanned the student is directed to a short screencast or video showing how to properly answer the question. They’re a variety of educational ways to implement QR Codes in the classroom, so be adventurous and try something new.
Thirdly, as was custom in some of my previous schools, the copy room became a place to share paper resources. One teacher creates a worksheet or finds an article that might benefit others, they leave a copy of it out for others to duplicate. Do the same virtually! Create a school/district Pinterest account or use anyone of several social bookmarking tools. When you find that blog, screencast, video, webpage, etc. pin it or bookmark it so we can all have access to the best resources available.
Finally, tweet from the classroom. I visited a school district in northern New Jersey who uses twitter to showcase their one-to-one initiative. Administrators, teachers, and parents look to their hashtag to see how they are using their Chromebooks. By tweeting out successes, the teachers and students are being showcased in a global way; one which is much broader than just hanging something in the hallway. Students now can feel their work has an audience. They can take pride in sharing what they are learning and creating.
I feel that each of these, for lack of an over-used term, ’21st Century Skills’ must be seen in our classrooms to model for students what we do correctly in a digital age.