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One Part Educator, One Part Techie: Why Today’s Teachers Have to Be Both

January 14, 2016

Fifteen to twenty years ago, technology in education was a debatable subject. These days, teachers and educational technology are intertwined.

Antony Maina is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and also a successful freelance writer and Founder of Word4Bloggers. For more than 5 years, he has written about business, education, content marketing, social media, travel, technology and more for national, regional and online publications including AAA World, Biz-news, The Huffington Post, and Whatsoniphone among others.

The last two decades have seen the education sector move at lightning speed especially in the area of educational technology.

Fifteen to twenty years ago, technology in education was a debatable subject. Everyone had his or her own views about the impact technology would have on the way we learn. There were, of course, both positives and negatives associated with use of technology in education. But gradually, as technology became embraced by educational institutions, those who resisted its application started to appreciate it.

These days, teachers and educational technology are intertwined. New technology hits the market every day, completely revolutionizing the way teaching is approached in schools. Today, there are hundreds of tools that teachers can use to connect with students, communicate with parents, colleagues and administrators. As a teacher, being technologically savvy is no longer an option. Education is advancing with technology and as the younger generation adapts, so must educators and parents in order to maintain a strong, relevant connection.

Below are some of the reasons why a technologically savvy teacher is a must today.

Improved Efficiency and Effectiveness for Students

Data usage by teachers in education is growing. For instance, streaming video and multimedia are increasingly used by teachers in their curriculum. Teachers are called upon to understand how their usage video and multimedia affects networks and how to communicate those needs to IT staff.

To meet these needs, bandwidth may need to be increased and virtual local area networks (VLANs) need to be set up quickly. And IT staff need to be able to monitor performance and manage service levels for teachers and students.

Likewise, as needs grow, the costs of delivering IT can grow. School districts and educational institutions are moving to cloud-based environments. These enable scalable networks. And the cloud opens up and broadens teaching capabilities for teachers and learning capacities for students, such as with opening up more distance learning. Through the cloud, teachers can pool work and resources. By spending less time, money and effort on IT, and by leveraging cloud resources, educational institutions and teachers can focus more on students and creating a better learning environment.

Improved Learning and Teacher to Student Connection

Many young people construct a social identity on the Internet. To better understand their way of thinking as a teacher, you need to be on their home turf, using the same technology they use, accessing social media, listening to their music — understanding how they live by experiencing it. You need to identify where they’re spending their time (favorite social networks Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube come to mind), and use their functionality as a way to inspire teaching methods. This way, you’ll have an edgier appeal to technology-oriented students.

For instance, many teachers are using a flipped classroom – a practice in which students watch lecture videos as homework, and the discussion is carried out the following day during class with the teacher’s guidance. This approach has consequently resulted in better student performance. Students have the opportunity to learn at their own pace, and use class time for clarification and interaction.

Online cloud collaboration tools, such Google Drive, Dropbox and more, allow students and teachers to share notes and assignments online, edit them in real time, and project them on a screen. These tools eliminate the need for some students to go to a classroom as everything is done online from class discussions, to submitting assignments and grading.

Improved Teacher-Parent Communication

The way in which teachers communicate with parents has also changed dramatically over the last decade. Long gone are the days of telephone calls and voice messages. The fastest way to reach an educator is via email. The importance of report cards has even given way to technology, as grades are now entered online by teachers and can be accessed by parents in real-time, 24/7.

Parents and students now also have access via the Internet or even apps in some cases to every single grade, tardiness, absence, and more. Apps like Edmodo allow parents to log in and see what’s going on.

Enhanced Teacher to Teacher Collaboration

The way teachers communicate with each other to share ideas and offer support has also evolved with technology. They can now share videos, lesson plans, and images instantly, as well as discuss their ideas online as they go.

Teachers can also instantly communicate and connect with their colleagues across the world, refine their lesson plans and find the latest new information on a particular subject to provide their students with the best education possible. There are even tools such as Teachers Pay Teachers which permits teachers to sell their own classroom materials and buy high-quality materials from other teachers.

Educators are now required to do an online portfolio for their practicum, among other online activities, to obtain their education degrees. Some teachers even go back to school or take supplemental courses to keep up with the ever-changing “industry standard” for the modern-day classroom and its technologically demanding student.

It is important for teachers to be open to new ways of doing things. On an almost a weekly basis, new technologies become available that can completely transform the way teachers work and teach.

A good teacher is one that maintains an avid interest in new technologies, with the aim of improving the effectiveness of their teaching methods to better reach their students.

This article was originally published on Small Business Trends.

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