For a long time, educators have debated the merits of integrating technology into their classrooms. On one hand, many teachers feel that they should be teaching content and not skills or methods for using technology. On the other hand, there is no denying that technology has made information more accessible to people around the world – even in countries with limited resources.
With this kind of access to information possible, how can any teacher justify not teaching some technology basics to their students?
7 Technology Skills Needed in Online Education
How to use a computer
The first step is understanding how computers work on a basic level, but this doesn’t mean that teachers should only teach the mechanics of operating a computer.
For example, if you are doing research online, it is important to understand how search engines work and what SEO means. If your school has blocked social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, then at least teach students about RSS feeds and why they might want them for their own blog (discussions of blogging itself can come later).
Another part of using a computer well includes knowing where different functions can be found in the interface and why those steps were designed way they were.
How to research
If students are learning about a subject, then part of that should be researching how to learn about that subject.
The term “research” can mean many different things including using online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, but it’s important for educators to teach students the difference between these kinds of sites and ones with more official information from places like academic institutions or government agencies.
In addition, students should understand evaluating sources from multiple perspectives (including bias) and most importantly where to find verified information.
How to use a search engine
It is very likely that your class will have access to a search engine at some point in their education. This means it is important for them know how they work and what kind of information they can find.
For example, if students are doing research for a social studies report on World War II, then they should know that using the word “WWII” in Google will not bring up much information at all. Instead, it’s important to use more specific search terms like “United States entry into WWII” so the engine has an easier time bringing up accurate results.
How to create content
It is unlikely that students will get through their education without being assigned to create some kind of written content by themselves or in groups. This might be creating a book review or even writing news articles based on events happening around them (including natural disasters).
When creating any assignment involving writing it is very important that students learn how to use a spell checker and that they understand the difference between fact and opinion.
This is especially important for news articles because there is no room for bias or errors in reporting something that has actually happened.
How social media works
At this point, most young people are very familiar with what social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., are all about. More than likely they have accounts of their own on some of them or want to create one.
Teachers should be aware of how these sites work so if students bring them up they know the right questions to ask (i.e., “What kind of privacy settings does your account have?”).
If teachers do not allow any social media content in school then it can still be a valuable lesson to explain why it’s important to have some kind of privacy controls, but the teacher should be aware that this content could come up in conversation with students.
How blogging works
If students are going to learn about creating content then they may as well get used to writing online from the start.
While many people say that there is no place for personal writing in school, there are many benefits of using blogs versus other forms of written communication because they allow for an easy way to publish and can easily be shared on social media sites if needed.
However, because you never know how safe a particular website is these days (especially when it comes to opening up unknown files), teachers need to make sure students understand what a blog is and how to use them responsibly.
How computer programming works
As technology continues to advance, there are many more possibilities available for computers with the push of a few buttons.
One example of this is computer programming which can be used to automate tasks or create video games, apps, etc., that would otherwise be impossible to achieve without extensive programming knowledge.
While it is likely your school does not have access to teaching coding yet, you have probably noticed many people being instructed on how to code in their own applications (i.e., Microsoft Office).
This means it is important for students understand what kind of resources are available throughout their education so they know where they can learn about new things as computer technology progresses into the future.