Essential technology skills for teachers

What are the essential technology skills for teachers? Teacher leaders? How important is it to be a true “expert” in technology? Should graduate programs in Education focus on developing experts or advancing the practice of classroom teachers?

“[T]he current federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires that every student be technology literate by the end of the eighth grade, and teachers must be knowledgeable enough to help students reach this goal. (Egbert, 2009, p. 14–15). That being the case, then teachers need to be at least proficient in information literacy, creating blogs and wikis and using them for enhanced student learning. Most of the teachers I personally know can barely open their e-mail and if I ask them what browser they are using, they don’t even know what I’m taking about. Pitiful. So if they understood the internet, how to research it, and the power behind blogging, wikis, RSS feeds and social bookmarking for student learning, I think that would be a huge beginning. And like Dr. Dalton said, they don’t need to know everything, but enough for the class to learn together.

Of course teacher leaders should know much more than the basics. They need to have patient coaching skills for those teachers who struggle with technology and struggle even more on how to integrate the technology in their classrooms. It is the Teacher leaders who will probably be the ones who show many of the teachers how to design opportunities for the students to create their own learning experiences. And the path for Teacher Leaders to becoming the experts is usually through a professional development program such as the masters program at Kent. I think by “advancing the practice of classroom teachers”, Kent IS developing experts. They go hand in hand. I don’t find that courses here teach technology at all. We are instructed to produce podcasts and other multimedia projects within the scope of almost every course, but we are not shown how to use these tools. This we have to figure out ourselves. So for that matter, any teacher can learn how to set up a wiki or produce a podcast, etc. What the experts from Kent learn, however, is how to “design and implement engaging and learning experiences” and do it well so we can help those who are not experts advance student learning with technology.

Egbert, J. (2009). Supporting learning with technology: Essentials of classroom practice. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.

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