Staying current with technology trends

I think one of the most challenging parts of instructional technology is that it is always changing. When I think back to my program at Regis, I realize how hard it is even for the courses to stay up-to-date. Links change. Different schools have access to different technology. My current graduate students are both looking for help with integrating iPads and using iPad applications, but it’s not specifically anywhere in the curriculum.

I know some of my colleagues have asked how I stay up-t0-date. As a mom of two little kiddos, it’s hard to find time to keep up with the rapid changes in my field. I want to help my colleagues, but I also realize that outside of school I need to spend time with my family. There’s no way I can master everything in the educational tech world, so I have a few go-to places that keep me in the loop.

Facebook is my daily friend for ed. tech. I don’t always read every article or blog post, but I bookmark like crazy. Did you know you can save links on Facebook? I love it. And when I have time I go back to them.

I have some reading to do!
I have some reading to do!

I also use Facebook to follow some important people and organizations in the instructional technology world. And I have learned that some of my graduate school professors aren’t right. The best information is NOT always in academic journals. I don’t have time to review and create tutorials for every tutorial, but I have learned that there are others out there who can give me ideas for integration.

Here are the top five to like and follow:

Free Technology for Teachers has GREAT tutorials and review of the top technology tutorials. I quickly learned at my first ISTE convention that Richard Byrne is one of the leader’s in this field. I often refer my co-workers to his materials. He knows how to do it all and explain it clearly and concisely. (He’s an example of why you can’t just use academic journals.) His website and Facebook feed are practical and helpful to the teacher in the classroom. Just like his page, save the links you want to review, and go back through them. I promise you’ll find helpful information here!

Edutopia is one of Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas’s educational foundation. Don’t let any opinions you may have about him, though, deter you from following this site. Edutopia posts a lot of articles about integrating technology. While Free Technology for Teachers will help you learn the tool, this site will help you learn how to integrate it effectively.

ISTE is the organization that has helped create the technology standards for teachers, students, administrators, and technology coaches. Here, you’ll find a lot of ideas for integration and ideas for how to learn more on the PD front. (I’d also recommend joining them. They don’t pay me to say that. I learned as much at their national convention as I did in my master’s program, and I love my master’s program. Joining a specialty group and skimming the listserve e-mails that come in your e-mail in box are also an AMAZING way to gather new information.)

Teaching Tolerance and Teach Thought aren’t educational technology sites, but these sites me think about my classroom, my students, and my teaching. They’ll help you with curriculum and lesson planning; I guarantee you’ll be more thoughtful of how and when you use your technology if you follow them.

I also like to add news organizations to my Newsfeed. Education Weekly, the U.S. Department of Education, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and local newspapers also usually have interesting articles about education that give me food for thought.

I also use Pinterest. A lot. This is more for lesson ideas, classroom decor, and some technology integration. I knowTwitter is popular, too, but I have a hard time keeping up with it. I only go there when I am looking for something specifically. I’ll be honest. I love technology, but I need to unplug and I just can’t do too many social media sites.

If you have a busy family, you may be like me. Conferences and weekend PD are hard for me. I subscribe to Simple K12 and go to ISTE conventions every few years if they are close by. ISTE’s next convention is next week in Philly; I’ll be attending. It’ll be my first time away from my baby and the longest I’ve been away from my toddler. Expect daily blogs sharing what I learned!

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