Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bloody Computers! Or....Digital Resilience 101

A couple of weeks ago, when I logged in to write my latest post, I discovered that the previous posts (that I'd spent a few good hours on) were gone. All I could find in my drafts was my original first sentence. Boo Hoo. Well obviously, I've gone off in a tanty and ignored my blog since then, which is not good practice! And not something I'd normally do, being that I'm a fairly stubborn person.
But I'm back now, and will hopefully be able to remember everything I had originally posted (by the way, the post was about the whole BYOD - Bring Your Own Device - issue). But it does remind me of something that a lot of people attribute the lack of take-up to: the technology itself.

It's easy to blame the technology when things go wrong, and a lot of the time it is the technology failing, and that's frustrating. But it's so important that we deal with it, so that we can continue to use it to improve what we're doing in our classrooms. This is where digital resilience comes in. And the best way to develop digital resilience is to be confident and competent. are 10 tips for working with technology:

Back Up
If you create with or use technology, the number one rule is to back up. Frequently and thoroughly. Given that storage is so cheap now, it's something that should really be A priority. I know that Apple offers Time Machine, which is a set-and-forget type service, you hook up a hard drive, and it backs up for you regularly. I'm sure that Microsoft offers a similar Windows process. Or, you can do it yourself. Once a week is best.

Back Up!
As in, have one. The thing about technology is, it doesn't always work. There could be a network problem, or someone's forgotten their password, or perhaps there's a device failure. You can't rely on it to work perfectly every time, so it's a good idea to have a backup activity up your sleeve. Then, if something fails, you can jump straight into the backup instead of wasting a lesson trying to fix it. Leave that until later.

Get Confident
I think it's pretty clear that technology's not going anywhere. And we're going to have to keep using it. So spend some time learning. Whether it's PD, research, or just playing, set aside some regular time to develop your skills and understand the types of technology that are out there. It's a good investment.

While we're talking skills...
The National Professional Standards for Teachers include many references to the use of technology, but I also think it's just as important for us to have the same skills that we expect our students to have: digital literacy, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration and communication skills. The kinds of skills sometimes referred to as '21st Century Skills'. If these are the types of skills that kids need, then shouldn't we have them too?

Use the Experts
Our classes are full of technology experts, so it makes sense that we use them. While I wouldn't say that I completely agree with the whole 'Digital Natives' thing (more about that another time); there are always kids that know a bit about the technology. Sometimes because they have used it at home for a while, but also because they've seen teachers (and others) using it for a while too. So why not let them help?

Take care of the other stuff
I must admit, I've learned the hard way, but it's so important to look after yourself. If you're not fit and healthy; if you're working too hard; if you don't have hobbies and interests outside of school, then you're not going to be in the right frame of mind when things go wrong.The first step when developing resilience of any kind is to look after yourself.

The technology's not always going to work. Things don't always go to plan. But the benefits of using technology (I believe) far outweigh the risk of not using it at all. So developing digital resilience is our best bet.

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