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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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What Tech Tools Should Be Required Knowledge for Teachers?

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

A recent #edchat discussion was about what amount of technology teachers should be required to know. What ensued was a great discussion without talk of a lot of specific applications or tools. I found this very telling.

When we talk about digital literacy or transliteracy in the context of our students, rarely do we discuss what apps or tools they should know how to use. More often we talk about the skill sets they need to be successful in the digital world in which they live. Tools come and go, but being able to see the forest for the trees is a life-long skill.

Similarly, teachers should have a bigger picture in their heads of the whys and whens of technology, not just specific tools. In addition, there needs to be a culture within the school that values technology use in the classroom. Simply requiring that teachers use x, y or z application or tool (i.e. interactive whiteboard) will not transform that teacher's instruction or the learning in their classroom.

Instead, the leadership in the school should be modeling the use of technology and helping to build community supports for teachers that enable and value daily the effective use of technology for teaching and learning.

That said, if only for their practice, there are a few things that teachers should know:

  • compose and check email and know how to attach files to an email
  • know that there are more choices than Google for searching the Internet
  • be able to locate resources on the Internet and be able to evaluate sites for accuracy and relevance
  • know how to navigate, find, save and open files and applications on a computer of any OS.

But don't take my word for it. ISTE has done a great job of developing a set of educational technology standards for teachers. They go beyond the tool and really address the bigger picture of technology in the classroom and in professional practice. You can check them out: ISTE NETS for Teachers.

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