Do I Really Have to Teach Tech Explicitly?
Yes, yes you do. Technology is a skill, like sounding out words or multiplying and dividing. Skills like that need to be taught step by step for students to use it efficiently. Chances are you had or have someone you can go to for your tech questions (like me!). Students need that too! I am going to break down 3 myths about teaching tech explicitly (that even I am guilty of believing at some point)!
#1: “Students are already tech-savvy, no need to teach it to them!”
That is just one of the many quotes I hear from teachers when I advocate for students to be explicitly taught the tech. I am not going to lie – I once believed that to be true too. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and distance learning, I now know that is not the case.
The apps that students are using outside of school are pretty user friendly, meaning they are straight forward. To post a picture on Instagram, you follow the same steps each time – 1. Take the photo. 2. Write your caption. 3. Find some hashtags. 4. Post it! As Branda says in this video, “phones and computers are very different technologies” and she couldn’t be more right!
The steps for students to complete online assignments might be different each time. It can get overwhelming for kids to the point where they shut down. Yes, students are using technology way more than we are, but their technology is different and more accessible. Google Apps have more depth to them and students need to be taught the right way to navigate them since they aren’t navigating them regularly.
#2: “I don’t have time to teach tech explicitly – I have a curriculum to get through!”
I know this line all too well! We are under so much pressure to get the curriculum taught before the state exam or keep up with curriculum pacing. Teaching the tech explicitly doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. I’m not saying spend the first 4 weeks of the school year teaching all the different things Google Slides can do.
Pick one tech tool at a time and teach it to students in a 45 minute block. Give them a chance to explore the app you plan on using with them. Answer all their questions beforehand, so that when you create an assignment with that app they understand how to navigate it. Once you’ve taught that tech tool – give assignments using it for a few weeks. Don’t change things on them every week because that will end up frustrating you and them when you have to troubleshoot and take up a lot of time answering questions.
#3: “I don’t know enough about the tech to teach it explicitly. I just know how to use it!”
The same struggles you have – students will have. My advice here is to learn the tech as best as you can. Write down the steps you took to get what you needed done and share those steps with your students. This way they won’t spend more than have the time going through the same hoops you did to get the application or website working.
A big thing that helped me get to know the technology I was using was YouTube. You have such amazing tutorials at your fingertips and if the website you’re using doesn’t have tips and tricks, then YouTube will! Worried about the ads on YouTube? Use the website EdPuzzle to clip the YouTube video to what you need and just share what is necessary to your students.
It might seem like teaching tech explicitly to your students is adding to your workload, but you’ll thank yourself later for it. Students that are explicitly taught the tech will spend less time trying to figure out the tech and more time completing the activities you assign them.
When I introduce a new type of technology in my brick and mortar classroom, I take center time for the first two days and explicitly show students how to use the tools I want them to use. This saves me a lot of troubleshooting in the long run!
This post is jam packed with a bunch of links. Here is a list of them for you:
- Google Apps Student Guides
- EdPuzzle [Referral Code]
- The Growing List of Websites Your Kids Need to Use
Thanks for stopping by!