Monday, November 23, 2009

eTools-as basic as breathing

The basic technology tool kit of a teacher in 2009 has exploded from something filling a small handbag in 1999, to a full set of luggage in the last decade.

In 1999 we would have taken for granted that a teacher could use pen (in several colours), pencil and paper, could operate a photocopier and telephone and we would have presumed they had a driver's licence. Since then, with the exponential growth of technologies in our schools, the list of what we take for granted that a teacher can do and use is extensive.

We have an immersive eLearning environment, and we want to let new teachers know what will be taken for granted - without being overwhelming!! Tall order. This needs to acknowledge new teachers will be a mixture of beginners and experienced teachers and have used a variety of operating systems on computers. Help us create our list of skills that are as basic as breathing for new teachers to our school in 2010. Anything you would add or subtract would be appreciated in the comments.

Here we go....

As we induct new teachers for the year beginning 2010, we are creating a list of what we would expect that teachers know how to do. Just as no judgement is offered when from time to time we encounter a teacher who doesn't drive a car, the list following is not 'success criteria'. But to function effortlessly in the 2010 environment we WILL presume the following:

All our teachers are able to:

  • check an email account daily and manage it efficiently
  • use a computer or laptop and trouble shoot basic functions ie on/off, connect to printer, connection to internet
  • use the internet to search, find information and to communicate
  • particpate in online environments eg blogs or forums or Nings or Trademe or Facebook etc
  • manage music files in software eg in iTunes
  • manage photo files using software
  • download photos from a camera
  • use a word processing document efficiently
  • store and retrieve data from a hard drive eg your computer
  • access Google Docs
  • edit a short video clip using simple software ( was "create a movie" - changed due to feedback below *)

All our teachers are able to use the following independently:

  • video camera
  • still camera
  • laptop
  • cellphone
NB: None of the above is platform specific ie no-one expects new staff to be familiar with the MacOS used on our Apple computers. The skills above transfer quickly if they have already been embedded.

All our teachers will need to learn quickly (with help available) once on the job:

  • administer a student blog ie upload content, manage commenting, manage student use
  • edit online pages e.g blog or Google sites or KnowledgeNet
  • social networking
  • store and retrieve from network
  • Google Apps - personally and with students
  • how record and edit audio
  • a graphics programme your level of students is using (e.g Kidpix, Hyperstudio, Pixelmator, Photoshop)
  • create a basic presentation eg Keynote or Google or Prezi or Powerpoint
  • MacOS basics
  • saving files in a variety of file formats (e.g .mov,.dv, .jpg, .aiff, .doc etc)
  • student management system
  • printing to networked copiers
  • use of sound field
  • use of data projector
  • use PhotoBooth
A list like this has to be specific to the individual school's needs. What have you created for your school?


  1. Do you mean new grad teachers or teachers in general?

  2. Teachers in general. Any new staff arriving at the school for the start of next year is what staretd this train of thought.

  3. I like that you have a list of expectations vs skill sets around technology use and identify what teachers will be supported to learn once on the job.
    How important is it to demonstrate a disposition to be willing to learn and try new ways of working and also be able to apply what you already know?

  4. An interesting list, and idea!

    The 3rd item on the list (use the internet to search, find information and to communicate), should probably have some of the other items listed under it - eg - participate in online environments, use Google docs.

    Most people would say they can find information on the internet, but I very few who can actually search efficiently and effectively. So, is this where you'll need to go a step further and have a rubric....

    Create a movie - hmmm, does this need to be more precise?

  5. Thanks to @Fiona and @Carol for sharing your thoughts. I have already been back into the Google Doc we are working on to make some changes as a result :)
    This was very clearly a checklist of eTool skills - something we have never done before with teachers. We don't want to go near rubrics (even thought that may add clarity Carol) because we are wanting to be very clear that this is NOT a success criteria. More a 'piece of string' to gauge progress. Current teachers have already fed back that A. it is good to see a transparent list to remove the feeling of 'am I doing enough' and B. they felt it is affirming to see a list in writing of things they are competent at. So many teachers feel overwhelmed or inadequate when faced with eTools.
    You are right Fiona about the disposition to try new things is essential - but we are hopeful that was ascertained in the employment interviews ;)
    Also doesn't have any of the ethics and digital citizenship stuff here. But we have masses of paperwork on all of that. This is a list we have never done before....

  6. Actually, I was just kidding about the rubric :-) What a dreadful thought!

    Store and retrieve data is an interesting one - creating folders and labelling files accurately and saving them into appropriate folders on a network may be something to add to your list. The issue of accurate labelling leads next to the creation of tags and labels for web 2.0 tools, too - eg Delicious, blogs etc.


  7. @Carol - That is an interesting thought, scaffolding for tagging begins with the basics of mangaging files on a network. We had quite a discussion over the wording of the save and retrieve data one. We thought that a keen BT should not be disadvantaged by not having had access to a network in the past. We thought that if you had a well organised HD on your computer the skills would probably transfer very easily.
    I certainly take your point from your first comment about most people not using Google to search efficiently. The memory lingers from my day at the GooglePlex of watching searches roll in from round the world for words like "Sport" and "Food". You wonder what people do with the millions of hits they must get....

  8. Hi Dorothy
    I'm drafting out a similar list of expectations for our staff. We are grouping them into levels - maybe Level 1 to Level 5. As teachers progress they receive a certificate to show where they are at. Also workshop will be run by various staff members on a regular basis to support them. What do you think? I'll email you a draft.

  9. I would add something there at the basic level to have a desktop background that is not so busy that you can't even see the eighty downloads to desktop.

    I wonder if the list is being revised, added to for 2011.

  10. Hi again! I have commented on future blog posts and as an assignment in my class with Dr. Strange I am to comment on this as well. I like the way you broke down the assumptions, the knows, and the things that need to be learned. I was able to do most of the things listed except Google Apps, Mac0S basics, saving files in a variety of formats, use of a sound field, and use of photo booth (isn't that on the Mac?). I have learned so much of the items on that list this summer taking this class and intend to continue to learn even more when this class is over. Thanks for sharing the info!
    Brittany DeFalco

  11. Hi! My name is Lindsay Ann Parvin. I am a student in EDM310 with Dr. Strange. This is a great list! I think I have mastered the majority, and I hope to learn the rest. I am about to start the graduate program in Counseling - I would love to be able to one day provide a list like this for new teachers! Very nice!

  12. Hi Dorothy it is me again, Sabra Gilley from the edm 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I was instructed to read over this particular blog post of yours and found it very interesting. I think your list of things teachers should know how to do in order to become a teacher is very fair and understandable. With the help of this class I am in now (edm310) I believe I have mastered each criteria you have listed to become a teacher! I hope that one day I can be in a position to create a list like yours above to show future teachers! I really enjoyed looking your list over!

  13. Hi Bittany, Lindsay and Sabra, Thanks very much for leaving your comments on this post. It is actually a 'work in progress' as Allanah referred to in the comment before yours. We tried very hard to make the first set of skills as generic as possible so that any new teacher arriving at our school (whether as a new teacher from a University or an experienced teacher) would be able to grasp the essence of what is required.

    The second set which is specific to our school needs updating as we have moved on again since that list was posted!

    However, the main idea of the post remains;
    1. There are digital skills as basic as breathing that no-one should enter the teaching workplace without
    2. The ever increasing raft of specific digital skills requires an essential attitude of 'life-long learning' built into all our teachers or they are in the wrong job!

    All the best with your career


  14. Hello again! I am also from EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's class! I do like how you have the lists of what teachers should know is great! They need to come in knowing a lot more than just the basic subjects that we learned in school growing up. Things have changed drastically! They will change every year I'm sure! I am proud to say that I've mastered the majority of your lists as well. This class has been the best! Let's just make teachers take this course before teaching and we will have nothing to worry about! I've enjoyed following your blog this summer and will continue to do so! Thanks for all of your insight on teaching!

    1. Hello Dorothy! My name is Christie Mason and I am also a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. After working as a stay-at-home mom for years, I decided to return to school at the age of 40. Things have changed so much, and I was especially intimidated at the beginning of EDM 310. Before this semester I wouldn't have known what 90% of the items on your list were. However, I am happy to announce that I have mastered 90% of those items! I understand the expectations of teachers regarding technology and assume the responsibility of continued learning in order to be the best teacher possible. Thank you for an exceptional post that lists those expectations. I have looked around at other posts while on your site and was very encouraged by all of the creative teaching ideas. I have placed your blog spot on my Symbaloo favorites, and will definitely be a frequent visitor!
      Thanks! Christie Mason

  15. Hello Dorothy! My name is Shaniqua Washington and I am a student of Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. It is a pleasure to see that you have provided a list for present and future teachers. Even though I'm currently a student, I believe that I have already began to some experience from the list of topics. There are still some topics on the list that I would be interested in learning. Thanks for your help!

  16. Hi Dorothy. My name is Emily Printz and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I think that you made some very valid points. Most of the items on your list are very important just to function day to day, even for those who aren't looking for a career in teaching. I have been expected to be able to do a lot of the items as a student. I believe that technology is always advancing and teachers need to be able to keep up with it. Thanks for your post!

  17. Hey Ms. Dorothy, Thank you for your post.

    I read through your checklist and would confidently say that I think I am on the right tract to becoming a useful teacher in today's world. Thank you for the help.

    Keith Tardibuono

  18. Hi Dorothy!! My name is Mary Anderson and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I think your list is a perfect example of the technology skills educators should be able to perform in the classroom. If I would've read this list before starting EDM 310, I might have another opinion. Alas, Dr. Strange has done an excellent job of preparing us for our future as educators in the 21st century. While there are a few things on the list that I've either not mastered or never worked with, I feel as though I have at least 90% mastery of most of the listed criteria. Thanks again for being a part of our learning journey!!

  19. Hi Dorothy, I agree with your requirements for new teachers in regards to technology. In today's world that has an ever increasing independence on technology, we cannot have teachers that ignore these powerful tools.

  20. Hi Dorothy, I agree with your requirements for new teachers in regards to technology. In today's world that has an ever increasing independence on technology, we cannot have teachers that ignore these powerful tools.

  21. Hey Ms. Dorothy, my name is Keilan Yancey and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I think your list of things teachers should be able to do, is a very fair list. I plan on becoming a future educator, and I can do everything you stated on your list. Thank you for this informative list.

  22. Hi Dorothy,
    I too am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. It is great to see this list for present and future teachers. Dr. Strange is definitely preparing his future educators to carry this tool kit of today and NOT the one from 1999. All teachers should be eager to find out what new things they need to add to their tool kit. After all, we are supposed to be life lone learners and if we are not, how can we prepare the students of this technologically literate generation for the world upon which they are about to enter? Feel free to visit My Blog.
    Angyl White

  23. Hi Dorothy,

    I am also a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I think having a list of expectations like this is great. Teachers should definitely know how to master these skills. Dr. Strange has instilled in us the importance of being a tech literate teacher, and I believe that it is crucial in this technology era we are living in. I'm sure that this list will be continually changing as technology is always advancing. Thanks so much for sharing this post!

    Courtney Hieronymus