Tapping into Digital Tools to Improve Teaching

digital learn teach Aug 22, 2023

You've probably heard the saying, "The only constant is change." If the last few years have taught us anything, it's the profound truth in that statement. 

And, as the digital tide continues to rise, bringing with it waves of innovations, applications, and skills, those in the world of education can sometimes feel adrift in this vast sea of change. 

But hang tight; I've got some navigational tips for you.

The good news is, the world of tech offers more than just challenges. It brings along a treasure chest of opportunities to make teaching more effective, engaging, and even fun! 

Whether you've dipped your toes into the waters of technology or you're already surfing the digital waves, there's always something new to explore.

Why Should You Consider Up-Skilling?

The question of up-skilling is more than a choice; it's an invitation to dance between innovation and comfort, calling everyone to the floor. 

Here we stand, in an era where the chatter at the local café isn’t just about the latest BBC series, but also about the freshest app or tech tool someone’s giving a whirl. 

What’s the Fuss About Up-Skilling?

I get it. After a long day of work (or teaching, in this context), the last thing on one’s mind is to sit down and learn a new tech tool or methodology. A cup of tea and a biscuit? Yes. 

A new digital course? Maybe not. 

But here's the kicker: while that biscuit provides instant comfort, up-skilling delivers long-term rewards. Let's dissect this a bit.


1. Engagement: 

Imagine walking into a classroom with a cassette player now and declaring, “Right, folks, let’s rewind this tape!” You'd likely be met with bemused looks and perhaps a few cheeky grins. 

Today’s pupils, the so-called 'digital natives', have grown up swiping screens far more than they’ve turned pages. For them, tech is as natural as breathing.

By integrating tools like ChatGPT or other digital platforms into teaching, you're essentially speaking their lingo. 

When you engage in a dialect they're fluent in, they're far more likely to perk up and participate. 

It's a bit like traveling abroad and stumbling upon someone who chats away in your native tongue. Instant rapport, wouldn’t you agree?


2. Flexibility: 

Now, I'm certainly not suggesting conducting lessons in PJs (although if that's your jam, more power to you). 

What I am championing is the unmatched level of flexibility the digital age affords us. 

Struck with an idea for a lesson plan in the wee hours? Jot it down and have a chat with ChatGPT for some resources. 

Fancy accessing student records whilst you’re out and about at a conference? The digital tools are there, waiting in the wings. 

With the world practically at our fingertips, the concepts of 'office hours' and 'workspaces' are continuously shifting. 

And if that occasionally means working from a snug spot in your home with your cat purring nearby, so be it!


3. Personalisation

Do you recall when there was that singular standard textbook, and everyone had to trudge along at the same pace? 

Thanks to the digital tools available to us, those days are swiftly being relegated to the annals of history. ChatGPT, for instance, can provide a smorgasbord of resources tailored to individual learning speeds.

Got a student grappling with Shakespearean English? Perhaps there’s an interactive video or a modern translation to give them a leg up. 

Another pupil dashing ahead, eager for more? Chuck them a challenge or a deeper exploration of a topic. This digital era allows educators to craft a custom path for every learner. 

It’s a bit like a buffet where everyone can choose exactly what tickles their fancy, rather than a set menu.


Looking for Courses or Certifications? Here's Where to Start

As the world zips along at a lightning pace, it's becoming more evident that staying abreast of the digital tidal wave isn't just 'nice-to-have' – it's a blinking necessity. 

And if you're an educator, well, the stakes are even higher. After all, the future minds of the world are looking to you! (No pressure, though)


1. EdTech Certifications:

Let's start with the basics. EdTech Certifications are a bit like those DIY flat-pack furniture instructions but for tech in classrooms. 

These courses unpack the jigsaw puzzle of how the heck technology can play nice with teaching. And no, it's not just about knowing which button to press. 

It's about understanding the philosophy behind each tool, the context in which they shine, and how to use them to spark those 'aha!' moments in the classroom. 

Fancy knowing how a particular app can turn a history lesson into a time-traveling experience? 

EdTech's got you covered.


2. ChatGPT, AI and the Future:

If you've got a particular fascination with ChatGPT (and I wouldn't blame you; it's pretty snazzy), or you're just a bit of an AI enthusiast, then this is your playground. 

There's a whole world out there offering deep dives into the mechanics of ChatGPT and the wonderland of Artificial Intelligence it's built on. 

I would suggest starting from YouTube. There are plenty of channels teaching how to create prompts and using ChatGPT for various purposes.

You won't just learn how to use it; you'll embark on a journey into the future of tech. Imagine sipping your morning cuppa whilst chatting about algorithms and neural networks. 

Fancy, right?


3. Online Teaching Platforms:

And then we come to the pièce de résistance – online platforms tailored just for educators like yourself. 

Names like Coursera, Udemy, and EdX might ring a bell. They're like the high-street shops of the digital world. 

Whether you're in the mood to master a niche tool, understand the nuances of digital classroom management, or just get to grips with the vast online teaching cosmos, they've got a lot. 

It's a bit like walking into a sweet shop and realising there's a treat for every taste bud.


In Conclusion

Remember, the waves of change brought about by technology aren't here to knock you off your feet. Instead, they're opportunities – beckoning you to ride them and explore uncharted territories.

Every journey begins with a single step. So, whether it's familiarising yourself with ChatGPT, enrolling in an online course, or simply reading blogs (much like this one), the key is to start. 

The horizon is filled with possibilities, and the digital compass is in your hands. 

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