I’m not usually one for “Top 10 Lists of Tech Tools” or “21 Things every 21 Century Teacher should know”. It’s not that I don’t think that these lists offer useful tips — they most certainly do. I just find that these lists (a) quickly become outdated and (b) seldom generate the kinds of conversations that I’d like to have about when and when not to use the tools, why and why not to use the tools, for whom and in what contexts the tools should be used and/or not used at all.
The lists, it seems, are so compelling that they become an end in themselves.
Without discussion of the tools’ affordances and constraints for teaching, I fear that these lists offer teachers a yummy tech treat…much like a Mars bar after lunch that leaves you feeling drained once the quick sugar rush wears off. It’s great to know about the latest student-friendly search engine or the best iPad app for pre-school math but usually, surface-level knowledge won’t help any teacher to implement the tool effectively with students.
And so, when my fabulous colleague Sara Beauchamp-Hicks shared a link called The 33 Digital Skills Every 21st Century Teacher Should Know via FaceBook tonight, I nearly skipped over it. Except, I didn’t, because Sara recommended it — and Sara knows stuff.
What I found was a bunch of prose about how kids are different because of technology (see my fantastic colleague Penny Thompson’s dissertation for some data that challenges this particular over generalization) an ad or two, and a total lack of author information (red light, red light…maybe not a valid resource?) And yet, as I read the list, I found myself liking it quite a lot. It is a really good curated list of tools grouped by skill. Even the curmudgeonly old critic in me was appeased. I especially appreciated the multiplicity of tools cited — it’s not a list of “top tools”. Rather, it’s a list of skills teachers need with an accompanying list of applications (generally free and web-based) that teachers can use. Would it be better with a break down of the pros and cons of each tool for instruction — yes, absolutely. But, I admit, the list is sort of useful.
So, as I prepare to teach first-year ed-tech Master’s students in Ireland this July, I say thanks to the authors of the post (whoever you are — you really should publish your names) and thanks to Sara for sharing it.
Even though I’ll add a few caveats, I will add it to the list of resources I share with my students.