24 October 2012

Tech Skills Your Students (Probably) Don't Have and You (Probably) Do - Part 3: Sharing/Getting Ideas

"Digital Native" doesn't mean your students have technology skills in their DNA - just that they pick them up more quickly. They still need you to guide them! With this page from the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction that our district is using as a model for our integration plan, I've been picking out skills we often believe our students possess, but often do not.

Part 1: Research Skills
Part 2: Work/Productivity

In part three, we'll look at 4 idea sharing/gathering skills you can model for your students.

1. Editing photos with anything other than Instagram

My wife and I use PicMonkey for most of our photo blogging needs, but for heavier web and graphic design (custom backgrounds, specified dimensions, merging images, cutouts, vectors) you're going to photo-editing skills beyond "apply filter." Tate Foley, visiting art professor at Webster University, specializes in print-making, but relevance in the 21st century requires a digital presence, even for traditional arts. Photoshop is obviously the industry standard, but I've gotten a ton of use out of open-source Gimp, and web-based Pixlr.

2. Getting real-world examples of the math, literature, science, business, or social studies principals you're studying with RSS feeds and an aggregator. 

Is there a current events type assignment you routinely give? Want to get your students up-to-date examples of your field in practice? Skip the Popular Mechanics stacks at the library. Skip the Google Search. Have your students subscribe to a blog related to your curriculum and they have a readily available archive whenever its assignment time. Extra Credit: Do this yourself for ideas for classroom management, tech tools, parenting, or lesson plans.

Top Blogs Lists:
What to do with them:

3. Using your mobile phone to take photos of the whiteboard to save for later

Even if you don't have a SMARTboard or other IWB, your students don't have to miss out on having class notes uploaded to your website or hosted LMS (Blackboard, Moodle, etc). With a smartphone, use a scanner app (Genius Scan, CamScanner) for best results. Even with a "feature" phone, you can still get get results following these tips I wrote about a couple weeks ago.

YOU can use them for your own posterity. Your students can use it to snap a picture of their homework, get that example they're running behind on copying, or share notes with an absent friend.

4. (Intelligently) debating a topic you're passionate about on social media, wiki, blog, or discussion forum

One year in what was essentially a freshman study hall, my co-teachers and I discovered that our kids were supremely interested in the Illuminati. All of there favorite rappers and media moguls were "in." They had video "proof." We went with it and our Illuminati project became the object of obsession for these kids for an entire week. They were great at random web searches for "jay-z illuminati devil," and naive about analyzing those sources, and even worse at articulating their arguments.

Sound like anyone on Facebook during an election cycle? Nurture your budding research journalists by taking the debate to the web.

Tech Adaptations for YOU:

Are any of these things you can already do? Depending on the age of your students, you have so many professional and/or creative skills that they need, but don't yet have! If nothing I've shared is in your wheelhouse, do some reflection and find something you can share. It might be 21st century or it might be 19th - either way I'm sure your students will appreciate you sharing. History of technology lessons are interesting, too. ;)

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Thanks for sharing!