What the tech?


Generation Z. The generation that has grown up with technology in their pockets. They know what they are doing right? Surely since they've grown up with cell phones and the internet, they won't have a problem with any of the tech tools we use in class. 

Think again.

This current generation IS a generation defined by technology, but it's really been defined by just one form of that technology: social media. Most teens today can figure out how to upload a video to TikTok or post on Instagram, but the reality is that most of them haven't used technology in a primarily educational setting.

Before we talk about what's happening in my virtual classroom, let's take a walk down memory lane for a second.

When I was in junior high, I specifically remember Mavis Beacon, the typing teacher of all typing teachers. I truly learned how to type with this software, which is why some of my students are actually surprised by how fast I can type. I'm not bragging because I owe all of my typing skills to Mavis Beacon.  I took a technology class every quarter of my junior high years. I learned the ins and outs of Photoshop, a Word Document and PowerPoint. I don't specifically remember learning email etiquette, but I knew that it should resemble a letter because it was in all reality still a form of mail. I didn't grow up texting, but rather with letter writing.  

I grew up using technology only for school.  I would occasionally get on AIM for instant messaging, check out someone's MySpace or download music from Napster. I definitely didn't live on a computer. Don't even get me started on the dialup internet tones and the amount of times one of my parents would yell at me for taking up the phone line too long.  And cellphones? Those were for short calls and a limited amount of text messages per month. If you got lucky enough, you might be able to get a couple of songs on it for a ringtone or be able to play Brickball. 

I'm 17 years older than most of my students. Yikes. That doesn't seem like much, but in terms of how fast technology has changed, it seems like a lifetime. I've learned to keep up with the tech as much as I can, but I still don't know as much as the next person. One thing I have learned though is how to play around with a tech tool to feel confident enough to incorporate it in my classes.

Through remote teaching, I'm learning a lot about what students do or don't know how to do with their devices, and more so the latter than the former. Why am I telling you all of this? Because teachers, myself included, assume that our students know more than they actually do. I don't recall having a student tell me about a computer class that they took in grade school or learning how to type. 

"Where's my class at in Google Classroom?" 
"How do I turn in an assignment?" 
"How do I attach a file?"
"Hey, when are you going to grade my test?" in an email. 

I could go on, but just ask any teacher, and you will open a can of worms when it comes to the technical side of online teaching.

After seeing some of the struggles that my students have had with tasks that I just click through without thinking, I decided to start implementing a Tech Tip Tuesday. I see a lot of tech tips offered for teachers during this time, but I think we are forgetting about our students sometimes. We assume that they know what they are doing, and just because we've managed to figure it out, doesn't mean our students have. 

I'm not advocating for handholding. Trust me. I'm advocating for allowing kids to try to do tasks with tech that has no strings or grades attached. I did my best technology learning by playing around with a new tool until I felt comfortable with it. Students today have full plates. They don't have time, and sometimes lack the patience, to work through troubleshooting. 

This post isn't a bash on Gen-Z. We can't fault them for simply being born into this world where technology is literally thrown at us from every facet of our lives.  It's a reminder that we still need technology classes to educate students on how to use technology for education. It's a reminder that as teachers, we shouldn't assume anything about our students' knowledge about technology.  We might have been taught in schools or we might have learned about these tools on our own. Now it's time to add that to our curriculum. It's that hidden curriculum behind our roadmaps where we truly teach students how to be tech savvy.

Tech Tip #1 for students: Know how to search the internet and find reputable sources. Because sometimes the question you are wanting an answer for can be found by a quick search.

What are some of the tech tips you would want to tell students about? 


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