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by Sandy Scragg | March 3, 2016 New York Teacher issue
If you want to learn more about educational technology, you can take an online course. You’ll be guided by an expert and come away with credits you can use toward salary or career advancement.
But what you will miss is the opportunity to learn from your fellow educators who are leaders in the field. This article will guide you to find your own professional development in education technology, which may require more legwork but will likely lead to a richer experience and increased knowledge.
It’s most convenient to explore resources online. One of my favorite websites is FreeTech4Teachers, run by Richard Byrne, a former social studies teacher from Maine. Maine began a statewide laptop program in 2002, creating many tech experts among its teaching force. True to its name, the website is entirely free and contains video tutorials, high-quality classroom resources, app recommendations and weekly EdTech tips. The information is clear and practical and is better than sites that charge for access.
Going online enables you to make connections with fellow educators and experts. On Twitter, search the hashtag #edtech. Read the latest posts using the hashtag and follow those people and organizations that offer helpful information. Some of my follows for EdTech tips are @larryferlazzo, @EdSurge, @ShellTerrell, @joycevalenza and @cybraryman1.
The International Society for Technology in Education is the largest and most well-regarded organization in its field. Its website has a multitude of resources, but one of its strongest is its Professional Learning Networks.
You can dive into specific EdTech topics, such as early learning, games and simulations or mobile learning, and join educators discussing, sharing and learning together. Membership in the organization costs $125 annually, but access to the organization’s Professional Learning Networks is free.
If I need to learn to use a new piece of software, I turn to YouTube for video tutorials — and who better to learn from than a fellow teacher? Not only do teachers focus on uses for the classroom, but they’re usually skilled at giving clear instructions. Two of my favorite channels run by teachers for teachers are users Robobent and EmergingEdTech.
Sometimes, learning is best face to face, colleague to colleague. The UFT offers courses on educational technology every semester and over the summer.
Attending conferences, both local and national, expands your technology repertoire and access to networking with fellow educators. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, which is held annually at the end of June, is unparalleled in both size and scope. There are workshops on a wide range of tech topics and opportunities to meet educators and experts in less formal settings like the Bloggers Cafe and ISTE unplugged sessions.
The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education holds technology conferences throughout the state as well as local workshops. The NY EdTech meetup group holds regular meetings around the city.
Last summer, the Department of Education held a Tech Summit and a 2016 event is planned. EdSurge lists EdTech conferences throughout the year.
If you can’t personally finance a trip to a conference, go local or ask your principal if there’s funding to subsidize you. Offer to turnkey any new information you learn to the rest of the staff.
Getting connected to the right people and organizations is a great start to developing your EdTech knowledge. Sharing information is a fundamental principle in the EdTech community, and you can be the beneficiary.
Sandy Scragg is an instructional technology specialist with more than 15 years of experience in New York City public schools.
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Dead Poets Society
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Mr. Holland's Opus
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