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Five Super-Geeky Tech Tips for the New School Year

Get Cloudy, Get Social, Get Ready!

One of the things I love most about being an educator is that every year is a do-over! Whatever you planned but didn’t do last year, you can try this year. This article will provide some easy tips for upping your ed tech game and getting ready for a super new school year. Don’t feel pressure to do all five—just pick one! If that works out, try another and go from there.

Goodbye flash drives and external drives! The future of data storage and hosting is in the cloud. At first, I was skeptical of the cloud but five years later, I’m using it every day, I’m convinced. Most school systems have some version of Google Apps for Education available for teachers, I recommend using  Google Docs to upload and convert your important documents, presentations, and spreadsheets for easy editing, sharing, and storage in the cloud.

Another great resource is Dropbox. A trusted ed tech leader once told me “because of Dropbox I don’t care if my laptop crashes.” That was a cartoon-eyes-bugging-out moment in my tech life. No fear of crashing? Ever? WOW!

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Now, more than ever, educators must be visible and transparent in what they do for their students, school, and community. Today, that’s easier than ever! Start with a free educator Wikispaces page. Click edit, type, and save. Done.

Why LinkedIn when you’re not looking for a new job? Because our parents and community are there and it shows we’re professionals, too! I’m on LinkedIn but I don’t do much there—it’s just another way for the world to find me and my main Web sites. It’s like a cactus plant because it grows but you don’t have to “water” it very often. A professional profile takes about 30 minutes to create. Just add a photo, your education and work history, awards and qualifications, and call it a day. If you want to go deeper with LinkedIn discussions and groups, and build a personal learning network that connects with other educators, you can! But it’s not a must.

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Your social network profile is your best and most read professional bio on the web—so keep it polished, up-to-date, and consistent across all of your accounts. In a professional profile, I recommend including your school, location, subject area, teaching level, and an award or certification.

Consider adding a quirky hobby or interesting fact. Most Web sites don’t provide a lot of room to list everything in your profile description—so keep it short. Also, on the topic of profile pics or avatars, for six years I used a favorite avatar but I’ve lately had a change of heart. I realized people didn’t recognize me for me! So now I use my best recent selfie, jazzed up a bit with PicMonkey, and voila! The real me.

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Get your hands on the Makerspace movement that is sweeping the globe. Makerspace combines STEM, or as I prefer STEAM (adding art), with a constructivist and constructionist self-directed approach to education. The idea is to allow kids to get their hands involved, DIY-style, in project-based learning.

Whether you spend $300 or $3,000, you can add a Makerspace component, cart, or corner to any classroom or school library. Start small by creating a rolling Makerspace cart. Include bins of Legos, a batch of coloring books and colored pencils, paper for origami, and a couple of Makey Makey kits.

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I use social media only in a professional sense— to share the cool things going on every day in my school and library, to celebrate my amazing students, and to connect with my parents, and our local and global community. Twitter and Scoopit are my preferred tools and I recently added Instagram—because that’s where my kiddos are! When sharing on social media, remember to be passionate, positive, and always professional. Never vent about administrators or students via social media! Don’t tweet yourself out of a job. On social media you can push the positive and change the world, grow professionally by leaps and bounds…or you could get in really big trouble. Share thoughtfully, wisely, and well.

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@GwynethJones, a.k.a. The Daring Librarian, is a blogger, a tweeter, an international Ed Tech speaker, Google Certified Innovator, and the author of the award-winning Daring Librarian blog. Jones is also a career-long NEA member and the teacher librarian at Murray Hill Middle School in Laurel, Md.


RELATED LINKS

NEA's Back to School Guide Educator-tested tips, advice, and resources for a successful start to the school year.


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