I decided to request Dr. Robinson's permission to repost his piece on the AAE blog because we all probably know an administrator who wants to get going with technology but who doesn't know where to start. Of course, s/he better get going because some of the items below will probably be out-of-date in no more than a year—that includes Facebook going through three more major facelifts. And don't let any beloved administrator (or teacher for that matter) use that last sentence as an excuse not to start. We all have to start somewhere with technology implementation—for our own professional development and for the benefit of student-centric learning.
So please enjoy this smorgasbord of tech tools. Happy Thanksgiving!
...Just the other day, I was asked, “What 21st century tools would you say every administrator needs to know and understand how to use?” It’s an important question, and I think I have tried to answer that question continuously through this blog. While there are the technological tools that help with administrator’s duties, there are other tools administrators need to know and be able to use simply because of their potential impact on instruction.
This first list describes some of the "tech-knowledge" I think administrators need to have to understand technology as it exists today, and the direction in which it is going. Here's a list of what I consider to be important 21st century administrator general technology knowledge and abilities.
- Use and understand cloud-based applications: With so many of our school functions moving to cloud-based applications, administrators need to understand what the cloud really is, what it means for data, and how to use cloud-based applications to enhance educational initiatives. There should never be an administrator who asks, “What’s this cloud they keep talking about?”
- Use and understand social media platforms: Instead of giving in to fear and trying to find ways to limit access and use of social media platforms by educators, 21st century administrators need to be engaged heavily in the use of these platforms to both promote their educational organizations and to communicate with stakeholders.
- Subscribe to RSS feeds: While there are fewer options for engaging in following RSS feeds, it still is one of the best ways to mine the information morass on a daily basis. Using a feed reader allows an administrator to be more selective in both information sources and in the amount of information they have to sift through to stay current professionally and personally.
- Use web platforms to post information and communicate with stakeholders: Being able to engage in communicating with others in a cyber-environment is a must for 21st century administrators. To really be able to take advantage of the cyber-media, administrators need to be able to understand its intricacies and quirks. They need to be able to take advantage of its features. This means being able to engage in effective 21st century communication.
Web 2.0-Cloud Tools: If I were to select specific Web 2.0-Cloud tools that administrators should know how to use, here’s my not-so-short list.
- Evernote: This is a note taking and Web collection tool. It has both web and desktop applications and a premium version that can be obtained at low costs. http://www.evernote.com/
- Diigo: Diigo is a social bookmarking site. With its tools, the administrator can share 21st century information and tools with staff and others. It is also an excellent way to share notes too. It is a collection tool too, just like Evernote, but its sharing ability makes it more of a collaborative tool. http://www.diigo.com/
- Dropbox: Dropbox is a way to get to rid of the need to use flash drives. It is the easiest way yet to store files online and access them with any device. It is also an easy way to share files too. http://www.dropbox.com/
- Edmodo: Edmodo is the premier social classroom environment. It is an easy way to engage with others in a social, cyber environment. http://www.edmodo.com/
- Engrade: This is one of the simplest to-use online gradebooks I’ve found. It allows administrators to access student grades, and parents too. A few added features like online quizzes and flashcards make it even more useful. http://www.engrade.com/
- Google Reader: This is one of the easiest to use RSS feed readers. Google reader allows users to bring what they want to know to their desktop. www.google.com/reader
- Google +: Google + is relatively new, online social media environment. It allows users to connect synchronously and asynchronously. It is also possible to organize those you communicate with into circles which are groups.https://plus.google.com/
- Google Apps (Email, Calendar, Google Sites, Google Docs):This collection of apps only get more and more powerful. Users can also engage in real-time collaboration with these tools. http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/edu/
- Twitter: Twitter is a most used microblogging website on the web. Tweeting out information in 140 character bursts are the norm. http://twitter.com
- Facebook: You have to have been living in a cave lately to not have heard of Facebook. I include this one on the list because administrators need to both learn how to use it and understand it. Too often it is being banned and thrown out because of the bad things that have happened with its use.http://www.facebook.com/
- Blogger (Or another blogging platform): Blogging is an essential way to connect with others and to disseminate ideas and information. In my opinion, administrators need to be bloggers to see its true potential as a provider of authentic writing experiences.www.blogger.com
- Kindle E-Readers and Nook E-Readers (All Devices): Being able to engage and use an E-reader by all educators is a 21st century must-have skill. Download the free Kindle apps here: Free Kindle Apps. Download the free Nook apps here: Free Nook Apps.
- Wikispaces (or other wiki platform of preference): Being able to engage in the use of wikis, no matter which product, is a must for the 21st century educator. Understanding how to use them helps administrators see their educational applications. Also, there are collaborative administrative tasks that could also be carried out using a wiki. http://www.wikispaces.com/
- Prezi: Prezi is a presentation application alternative to PowerPoint and other slide-oriented presentation programs.http://prezi.com/
Other Web Apps or Honorable Mentions: These are applications I have used, but that haven’t become a regular part of my own Web 2.0-Cloud Apps toolbox.
- Symbaloo: A personal Desktop sharing tool. Can be used to share links or bookmarks with others. http://www.symbaloo.com/
- Springpad: Another note taking and task management application. http://springpadit.com/home
- Wall Wisher: A presentation program of sorts that allows users to post notes on a virtual wall. It is fully collaborative too. http://www.wallwisher.com/
- Wordle: A tool that allows users to create appealing representations using text and words.These are called word clouds. http://www.wordle.net/
- Office Suite Programs (Whether MS Office, Open Office, or Libre Office) Obviously, all 21st educators need to be able to engage in the most common software tools found in an office suite. http://www.openoffice.org/ and http://www.libreoffice.org/
- Photo-Editing Software (I Use Picasa 3): Being able to edit photos and alter them using editing software is a must. My tool of choice is currently Picasa. It’s free. http://picasa.google.com
- Inspiration: I consider this one of the best buys in educational and productivity software. Inspiration allows users to create informational maps or outlines. http://www.inspiration.com/
Device Specific Knowledge
- Basics of Smartphone Technologies: Being able to use and understand these devices as a 21st century administrator is a must.
- iPads and other Tablets: Administrators still fighting to keep these devices out of their schools are already fossils. Administrators need to know how to use these devices and be leading the way in exploring how to use them instructionally.
- Smartboard Technology: Understanding smartboard technology is paramount. Too often administrators see these devices and immediately think they need one for every classroom. If administrators were more knowledgeable, they would perhaps see that having one in every classroom isn’t necessary.
I realize my list of all things Techie and administrator might want to know about is lengthy. I also realize that the individual apps and devices are subject to change rather quickly. Still, the 21st century administrator engages in using and understanding technology constantly. Perhaps this list will help guide technologists in deciding which kinds of training they want to conduct for their administrators.