22 Sep, 2017
10 : 00
With the technological advances of the 21st century, the world is literally changing every day. It’s challenging for parents and schools to prepare children for the future when that future is less predictable than in times past. As such, it’s more important than ever for schools to be innovative and adaptable – that is, for schools to mirror the society in which they’re preparing their students to enter.
At Yew Chung International School of Beijing, our leading expert and champion to this cause is Mr Sat Arora, Secondary Technology Integrator and recent recipient of the esteemed designation of Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert. As an MIE Expert, educators build their capacity for using technology in both the classroom and curriculum to improve student learning, advise Microsoft and educational institutions on how to integrate technology in pedagogically sound ways and be an advocate at conferences, events and training on how Microsoft technology can improve learning.
An expert in all things technology, as well as the man best able to predict the unpredictable future, Mr Arora is delighted to share tips and encouragement both for students and teachers on how they can reduce any lingering apprehension towards tech and best prepare themselves for the unknown changes of tomorrow.
What it Takes to Become an MIE Expert
Every year, Microsoft selects approximately 6,000 professional educators from all around the world and awards them the special recognition of being an MIE Expert – the main responsibility of which is to integrate technology into the classroom more effectively and to help teachers and students achieve their learning objectives.
In order to become qualified as an MIE Expert, you must first collect 1000 points through various Microsoft activities. Attending the Microsoft Teacher’s Academy in Guangzhou, for example, earns teachers 500 points, while free online quizzes and tests can be completed for other, varying amounts. After earning the sufficient number of accredited points, teachers can apply for the MIE Expert distinction.
Why MIE Experts are Important
Unlike students, many of today’s teachers didn’t grow up with technology. Most teachers joined the profession because they love working with and inspiring students and because they love their subject content. Learning how to utilize technology in the classroom is an additional focal point that teachers now have to absorb – paying attention to the channel of information – rather than the traditional focal point of the quality of information. It’s understandably frustrating for some teachers to now have to learn a new tool to do a job that they’d already done for many years.
But with the potential for overwhelm, here are some tips both for individual teachers and for administrators to reduce their stress levels with regard to technology integration.
A Journey of a Thousand Miles
It’s important for teachers to feel that they can ask questions without judgement. Regular sessions can therefore be arranged throughout the year where teachers are encouraged to bring up any problems or questions, from how to use an app, to which app or service to choose, to troubleshooting problems.
At YCIS Beijing, Tech Thursday’s are weekly sessions held for teachers, with topics such as “Mac 101”, “Using the Cloud”, or “Migrating from PC to Mac”. Concepts can sometimes be explained to a teacher three or four times, and they will still come back and have the same problem again. But in those situations, it’s important to continue to encourage and motivate the teacher. Find new ways to explain the concept, and never allow the teacher to reach a point of giving up.
During the weekly tech workshops, it’s even possible to do things such as bringing in food from a favourite local restaurant – anything needed to make the activity more fun. If teachers are able to make an enjoyable habit of the learning process, they’re more likely to engage with the information and be excited when realizing that technology can make people’s lives easier rather than more complicated.
There’s a Chinese Proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Find any way possible to help teachers enjoy that first step, and their progress will then build upon itself.
Ask the Young Experts
Another wonderful way that teachers can begin to grow more comfortable with technology is by turning to their own students. Children are born digital citizens; they don’t have the difficulty of adopting new technologies that adults and older learners may have. In this way, many classrooms already have a group of tech experts in the form of students.
Asking students for advice could be done in several ways. It could be a simple question, such as how to fix a syncing issue in Google Docs. A student could quickly troubleshoot the problem, but doing so, they’d gain confidence in themselves and their ability by supporting the teacher.
Both for Primary and Secondary students, teachers could also create mini-projects based around a topic that they need to improve in, but to incorporate important learning outcomes into the project. An example of this would be for students to make a PowerPoint presentation teaching how to use PowerPoint. Students would build their communication and presentation skills, while the teacher also benefits from the information therein.