Questions about Basic Technology Skills

I have been thinking a lot about what basic technology skills faculty should know. We’ve surveyed our faculty on basic tech skills, and have a good idea of what people know and don’t know, but what Technology skills should they know?

The reason I ask this question is that we have half of a professional development day in February to work with our entire faculty on technology skills. Our plan now is to run 4, 40 minute sessions on the basics: word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, desktop publishing, e-mail, information literacy skills, laptop hardware optimization and troubleshooting and configuration, and a number of other ‘basics’. We are planning lessons that demonstrate and allow participants to practice 2-4 skills, walk them through an Atomic Learning Lesson (if applicable), and give examples of the use of that software in a classroom.

NETS has a long list of skills that beginning teachers should have when entering the classroom. This list is well above the performance point of my faculty.

In order to learn something new, faculty (for that matter – anyone) must feel a need and be engaged. How do we get the second and third wavers to be engaged when teaching the basics? Nancy White asks these types of questions often.

Here are some of the other questions running through my head:

If you were running a seminar for faculty who have a wide variety of technology skills, what would be the core goal of each session that you teach?

Just thinking through my fingers: Start with the learners, know their skill set, and teach them what they need to get to the next level, even if that means configuring windows and file management.

What skills/applications would you teach?

Word vs. Google Docs

Do you have links to examples?

Our lesson plans will be posed here: Tech at Collegiate when complete.

Thanks for your time and thought.

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5 thoughts on “Questions about Basic Technology Skills

  1. Hm, I’m not sure I’d ask about skills and applications. Instead I would ask people what they need to get done in a day, then discuss the various ways technology could help them. Have you seen the game David Wilcox put together about social software? I think it is still a bit tech focused, but it’s a great way to get people talking about what they need to get done, then brainstorming how to do it. After that you can assemble ad hoc groups to learn the “how to’s.” It could be really useful, participatory and fun! I wish I were in NJ and I’d come and play with y’all!

    But the bottom line for 2nd/later adopters is they usually don’t give a fig about technology, but instead care about the things they want to do. Build on that passion, and appropriate tech learning and adoption can more easily follow. At least that’s been my experience. I know there are MANY ways in on this one!

  2. Boy do I wish you could be here to help with this one, Nancy.

    I’m thinking of surveying the faculty about what they would like to leave the day knowing and what problems they think technology can help them solve.

    Boy is there lots to chew on here. Thanks!

  3. You might extend the metaphor past “survey.” Try the “imagine it is a year from now and you have embraced a couple of tools and practices that make your work more meaningful/fun/productive. What does that look like? Sort of scenario building. It may be too broad and you might have to offer a few examples. But try and get them to visualize the outcomes. I find that builds greater motivation.

    The other thing I’ve been playing with along with some of my pals, both in the education and CoP sector, is the idea of technology stewardship. If they imagined themselves providing some technology stewardship in their classroom, what would it look like? What tools and practices, when unleashed in the classroom, make a change they want to see?

    Um. I’m not hitting the mark here. Need more brainstorming!!! lol

  4. Thanks for the mention of the game, Nancy, which you can find here http://socialmedia.wikispaces.com/Social+media+game Alex. There’s a similar game here http://usefulgames.co.uk/node/64 that follows through to the story-telling sequence.
    I agree with Nancy that it is too tech focussed. The main benefits, I think, are to move from scenario -> characters -> activitives/apps on cards -> stories.
    You could change the cards to focus more on activities that may require different types of apps, but bring the human elements to the fore, including the stewarding.
    Here’s the benefits of a game approach I gave in one of my posts
    * The format creates a level space in which the simple cards and instructions (we hope) make it easy for everyone to join in
    * Working in groups means those with more understanding of technology can explain to others.
    * The range of cards means it is easy to describe what may be planned “for real” in an area, while also enabling people to ask “why can’t we do that too”.
    * Moving into storytelling about local characters means the language and discussion is more likely to be in terms anyone can relate to – or challenge.
    * The game sessions are not intended to lead to any firm decisions, but rather to trigger conversations that can continue afterwards. That allows time for reflection and evolution.
    Anyway, glad to discuss if useful.

  5. Pingback: Questions about Basic Technology Skills - Part II at Learning Blog

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