NJ Alternate Route Teachers Talk EdTech on Twitter
New teachers leverage education technology to varying degrees in their first year. Many are consumed with pressing issues like finding time for preparing lessons, improving their classroom management and finding a grading system that works.
Learning about the latest edtech trends, albeit beneficial, may simply fall into the important-but-not-urgent quadrant of their chart of priorities. However, the abrupt transition to remote learning at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic thrust teachers across the nation - including first-year teachers - into an educational technology immersion experience. Some were scrambling, while others were cruising at their normal pace, having already discovered the value added of technology for instruction, professional collaboration and communication with families.
Wherever Rutgers Alternate Route teachers landed on the spectrum of experience, they're clearly now prepared for the anticipated hybrid teaching situations planned for the fall - if their recent online chat addressing edtech is any indicator. Last weekend, we immersed our entire cohort of new teachers in a facilitated discussion on edtech via Twitter. We tweeted a series of questions related to their practices using edtech and received a flood of responses that were rich with suggestions for participating colleagues.
The responses, which are curated here, can be mined for future reference.
RENEWED SENSE OF EXCITEMENT
An overwhelming majority of teachers left the chat with a renewed sense of excitement about the possibilities for technology integration in their classrooms. For example, these teachers from our Newark site are planning daily tech integration. "I would like to try and incorporate more technology into my everyday teaching," stated one teacher. Another expressed, "This session really helped me gain some new options on how to use it [technology] authentically to fully engage students and parents in order to create an immersive experience in my future classroom, be it digital or in real life!" This teacher from our Camden site responded similarly, “I always thought technology was a great platform, but I want to continue to use it even when we return to the regular classroom.”
VALUING TECHNOLOGY AS A RESOURCE
Some of our teachers had their beliefs and practices confirmed during the chat. A teacher attending our Bridgewater site indicated, “My beliefs have been reinforced by this session. Great job!” Two teachers from the Newark site shared similar responses indicating they are on the right track. “I have always valued technology as a teaching resource. This module reinforced that,” said one respondent. Another stated, “Seeing other teachers using the same resources was very helpful.”
Although the response to the edtech Twitter chat was decisively positive, there were a few new teachers whose responses were not favorable. One indicated, “I find the twitter response format stinted and unhelpful.” The other stated, “This is a waste of time.” While it is not immediately clear if the second respondent was displeased with Twitter or the use of education technology, both responses serve as reminders that perspectives vary as do preferred engagement strategies. Participant sentiments stretched beyond their satisfaction to also include a range of unique reactions from accomplishment and new revelations to honest reflection and next steps planning.
Following such a robust exchange of ideas, there's bound to be an interest in learning more.
WHERE TO START
The first place to start is with the embedded tweets in this post which curates the practices and recommendations by chat participants. Another resource is the Inspiring Teacher Leadership Blog published by Rutgers Alternate Route. It features a series addressing edtech tools categorized by content area, all of which have been tested in teacher classrooms and subsequently recommended for colleagues.
Finally, we must not forget the larger Twittersphere! By simply searching the hashtag #edtech, new teachers can instantly find educators across the globe who are knowledgeable about technology integration and, more importantly, are eager to help.
A few trusted tweeters are included below to help jumpstart the search.
All edtech thought leaders' Twitter handles are found here:
Monica Burns, Ed.D.
Sarah Thomas, Phd.
If you would like quick access to our previously published posts on this topic, find a few below.
We hope this list and your comments provide instant gratification for the teacher at our Bridgewater site who stated, "Technology is essential in teaching. I would like to see more resources though!"