Monday, March 13, 2017

Keeping Up

Keeping up with technology isn’t easy because it’s always changing. The evolution of a tool is so fast that it can end up looking like a flash in the pan. That is true in some cases but most of the time, ideas are improving at such a rapid pace and developers know that consumers want the best of what is out there. The tools evolve quickly because developers are striving to meet consumer needs.

When an app or tool is created, we start using it regularly because we enjoy its benefits. Being the teachers that we are, we immediately share it with others. This leads to many people using the app/tool and providing feedback such as, “I would love it if this app could also do…” And just like that, an idea is born and we get an app with updated features.

The concept of adapting to something better is nothing new. “New and improved” is a cliche in advertising because we always want the best of what is out there. And when it comes to our learners, we definitely want them to have the best.

So how do we keep up? There isn’t one easy answer to this but one solid answer is digital literacy. Having a strong foundation in digital literacy can help when adapting to new tech tools. Digital literacy is a deep topic that includes digital citizenship, media literacy, and understanding how to use technology. Digital literacy is not a fixed, one-time course that you can check off and be done; it develops and grows with you just as literacy does because we use it every day. Unless you’re willing to cut up your debit cards, never touch a cell phone, and give up your job that requires the use of a computer, you ARE using your digital literacy skills every day.

Just as there are ways to sharpen your literacy skills, there are also ways to sharpen your digital literacy skills. You can take a digital literacy assessment. You can watch various tutorial videos in Atomic Learning. You can also play; don’t be afraid to push buttons and explore within an app. You might click the wrong button from time to time but that's a good thing! We all know there are many rich lessons within failure. Keep trying!

Another answer is mindset. A fixed mindset won’t work with the rapid growth of technology. In order to keep up, one must have a growth mindset that is open to change, learning, and developing digital literacy every day. Rather than waiting to be trained on how to use a new tech tool, why not click around and try to figure it out? Taking that initiative into your own hands, investigating an app/tool, and discovering how to use a tool on your own is like a workout for your digital literacy skills.

If you’ve got a growth mindset and have an interest in sharpening your digital literacy skills, you should consider coming to Plano ISD’s Educational Technology Success Initiative (ETSI) which is held every summer. ETSI is a fun two-day workshop that focuses on digital literacy, instructional technology integration models, leadership, and ISTE standards. Open enrollment begins March 21 in MyLearningPlan. More information can be found on the ETSI site.

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