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In need of tech boot camp

So, the big question is WHO?

The education is becoming more and more integrated with technology, that it seems vital that all the students are taught proper IT skills so that they can cope with the world that has become highly integrated with technology.

The question

The article by David Warlick is posing the question about if we actually need technology classes anymore?  My personal answer would be “yes, we still need tech course in schools” but the important question to ask is who is it for and who teaches it.

There is a huge gap between people who can and who can’t.  Some people are able to work out very quickly what to do and is flexible enough to search for information using google search engines.  However, there are those who find all this very difficult ( the “I don’t even know where to start”s)

For teachers?

We all assume teachers and students somehow would be able to use all the equipment provided by the school, but I believe people forget that everybody needs training in one form or another.

First of all, teachers are lifelong learners. We all need to accept change and learn to use new tools.  The article 6 things we know for sure with ipads in school mentions extensive coaching of the staff to be able to use the i pads effectively in their classrooms.  Without the training, as the article writes, these gadgets will merely be a decoration on the wall.

A lot of schools might not have enough funding to buy all the equipment AND provide the teachers with proper training/coaching.  I believe one of the possible solution might be what people were discussing in one of the COETAIL Google + hangout sessions.

If we have a group of willing and motivated teachers, who went through various training sessions, they can become coaches to help the teachers in the area become trained.

My questions concerning this idea is, how can we ensure all these willing teachers stay motivated? I would guess it would be too much to ask the teachers to travel to different areas and to coach without any compensation.   Of course, I’m sure there will be people who would offer to do this without any compensation, but it would be unfair if it always landed on the same few people with a warm heart.

I’m sure most of the teachers in the Coetail cohort are nice enough to offer free session in their school and in other schools, but it might also be good if there were certain rules (or guidelines) so that people receive a little more than a pat in the back. (I don’t know…any good ideas?)

For Students?

Just as teachers need training, students also need some training.  We assume the younger generation is better at using technology, but this is not true.  Most students are used to using programs and apps like Word, Power point, Safari, computerized games, etc.  Yet, I realize that using Google drive is very new to most of them.

Using Google drive

Because using Google drive has become more and more important to the students, I realize that they need proper training to actually be able to use Google drive properly.

1) Managing folders: (I’m a folder person, sorry!) Having a proper folder system is really important to keep track of what you actually have in the drive.

2) Sharing: The basic concept of “sharing” needs to be taught. For example, people don’t need to share back what has already been shared with them.

3)Tricks: It will help students to know some minor tricks. For example, small tricks such as placing a single file in multiple folders become handy.

Problem solving skills?

When we teach the students, we also need to think about why we are teaching them.  It is easy for us to teach them basic IT skills (or any other academic skills) and consider the work done.  However, what we really need to do is, think about if we are giving them a chance to grow up to become a successful person, or not.

I’m not going to quote Steven R. Covey, but I wonder if we are effectively embedding these life long skills (for example the 7 habits according to Covey) in our curriculum?

Covey-esque life long learning skills, ISTE standards, our school disposition outcomes …There are so many good standards and skills that would benefit students, but in order to cover all this is not going to be easy.


So, collaboration is the key.  I don’t know how it will be organized in our school, but it would be nice to have more collaboration between tech teachers and other teachers so that the disciplines can work together to create effective courses.

If we can integrate technology and organizational skills (or guidance, maybe) into all of the courses, education will become more holistic and possibly more effective. However the difficulty might be that most schools and departments are not willing to disintegrate the disciplines into something more interdisciplinary.  Starting a new school would solve this issue, but how to change a system that governed a school for a long time?

I guess we just have to be flexible enough to fit a square object into a round opening…Just like what happened in Apollo 13, people are smart enough to actually collaborate and make it happen…so can we, the teachers.


6 Responses to “In need of tech boot camp”

  1. Profile photo of Janelle Odate

    I think you made some good points in your article. Students, just as everyone, know how to use some programs but they don’t necessarily know how to do everything just because they are comfortable with technology. With the number of new apps coming out every day I believe no one knows how to do everything. It is pretty difficult to expect one person to be in charge of teaching this. That is why IT in a school is getting more complicated. I think there are some things that a whole school should make decisions on using such as Edmodo or Google Apps and they should be taught explicitly to everyone (students and staff) but there are lots of programs that people discover. In that case most likely they are going to tell someone and perhaps could do a mini workshop with their colleagues.

    While I think people are more willing to learn from people outside of their own school there is a lot of knowledge that can be shared within the walls of a school. People just need to be open to learning from their peers. At the same time teachers within a school need to be risk takers and share their knowledge as well. (Hmmm…easy for me to say but sometimes hard to do). It sounds like you have a great way to organize information using folders. If you share that with your students and then they go out and share it with more people you are teaching some great skills.

    You have a lot of technology skills – be a risk taker and share!

    Posted by Janelle Odate | November 23, 2013, 9:41 am
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    • Profile photo of Saeko Uchino

      Thank you for your comment Janelle.

      At the individual level, I can pick and choose the apps or platforms that I feel comfortable using, but when it comes to the whole school level, it becomes so tricky. People who are tech savvy tends to help out others, but sometimes it is hard when the program you are suppose to use changes every few years.
      For some things, I prefer it the old fashioned way (like having the printed version of your schedule in front of you rather than having to open the schedule on your computer each time), but the times are (sadly, or happily? ) changing.

      Posted by Saeko Uchino | November 27, 2013, 2:00 pm
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  2. Profile photo of Mariko Jungnitsch

    When schools implement technology and roll-out laptops to students and faculty, the best formula includes extensive coaching. If it’s not part of the package, as your article states, the laptops become a ‘decoration on the wall’.

    It’s equally important to note that once boot camp for majority happens, we need to continuously be alert to our international school demographic of students who enroll at different times of the school year. Often, training has been completed when they arrive and majority of students have become comfortable using different apps. When a new student arrives mid-year, both teachers and students are already immersed in using technology and quickly forget how one can feel overwhelmed by being the only one in the dark. It may be a good idea not only to pair up the newcomer with a buddy who will act as guide around school, but pair the newcomer with a tech coach/buddy as well!

    Posted by Mariko Jungnitsch | November 26, 2013, 12:41 pm
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    • Profile photo of Saeko Uchino

      Thank you Mariko.

      I totally agree about the new students/teachers. As we train people, we probably have to build an atmosphere so that people become naturally helpful to each other. Peer coaching might be one way to enhance that kind of atmosphere.

      Posted by Saeko Uchino | November 27, 2013, 2:03 pm
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  3. Profile photo of Kim Cofino

    Great points! One of the things we try to do at YIS is to build in networks of collaborative learning opportunities. For example, we have a Tech Pilots group that meets once a month to share and learn from each other around technology. Those team members are often the first to volunteer to run other training sessions or to share ideas back to their departments. Although you’re right, they are doing that out of the goodness of their hearts, they are also getting an extended professional learning community out of it (as well as snacks!) so it’s valuable for them too!

    Posted by Kim Cofino | December 2, 2013, 5:56 am
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  4. Profile photo of Ted O'Neill

    This leapt out at me after a recent experience, “I believe people forget that everybody needs training in one form or another.”

    I started on a new project the other day in the most virtual of all ways and it threw me for a loop. I’m working with people I have never met on a new language education project. The manager emailed me to set up a Google Hangout or Skype call to get things started. He wanted to show me a new (to me) tool called Trello. Well, we had network problems and he tried to guide me through it over a plain old phone call.

    Trello is supposed to be simple. Actually, it is pretty simple. Pots of people use it. But, I just couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. I flailed around and my confidence with technology drained away. I wanted nothing more than to just sit side-by-side and watch him use it. We ended the call with a vague idea of trying to meet sometime.

    Everyone needs training. Maybe it’s important to remember that it sometimes feels like “bootcamp” never ends. Those times, maybe we need some good old fashioned handholding too. Hope I can find my virtual colleagues for some face-to-face time, not just Facetime.

    Posted by Ted O'Neill | December 5, 2013, 10:43 am
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