10 Tech Skills That Every Educator Should Have: We Surveyed Educators around the Country to Get a Snapshot of the Key Tech Competencies in 2014

By Thompson, Greg | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), January 2014 | Go to article overview

10 Tech Skills That Every Educator Should Have: We Surveyed Educators around the Country to Get a Snapshot of the Key Tech Competencies in 2014


Thompson, Greg, T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)


IN JUNE 2005, THE Journal ran a story on the "20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have." Written by Laura Turner, a computer technology instructor at Black Hills State University (SD), the recommendations in the article were based on her experiences teaching in the college of education at BHSU. (See the sidebar on page 17 for the complete 2005 list).

Year in and year out, that story is among the most read on our website, even though the advice is almost nine years old --which, in technology years, is about two lifetimes.

Curious to see how much the necessary skill set had changed over the years, we decided to do an update on Turner's article. This time, however, rather than relying on the opinion of a single academic, we used the more 21st century method of crowdsourcing. In an online survey, we asked our readers a simple question: "What tech skills should every educator have?"

From nearly a hundred responses, we compiled a list of the 10 most popular. What's interesting is how neatly the most-mentioned skills from the survey dovetail with those that Turner identified in 2005, even as new competencies made this year's fist. Without further ado, here are our top 10 tech skills that every educator should have, annotated with comments from the people who use them.

1) Searching the Web efficiently: A third of the survey's respondents advocated a back-to-basics review of browsers, targeted searches and key words--all in the name of finding credible and relevant information online. Or, as David Withrow, the network administrator at Harford Day School in Bel Air, MD, put it, "The Internet is the information backbone of the world. Deciphering quality from junk is essential."

Jule Barta, a curriculum development manager in Redlands, CA, added, "Many teachers do not know how to do effective searches. If they are taught how to search the Web more efficiently, it will help them expand their knowledge and be able to teach the students the same skill."

2) Mastering Microsoft Office and base word processing: Those familiar programs in the Microsoft Office Suite--Excel, Outlook, Word and PowerPoint --may be relatively old, but they are still vital tools for many educators.

Hiramys Santiago, associate professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla, listed competency with the "productivity tools" found in Office as the most important tech skill an educator should have. "Effective use of the word processor, presentation software and spreadsheets," said Santiago, "are essential for class management and material production."

Beyond the infinite mysteries of the 12 drop-down menus found in Word, the venerable art of typing is part and parcel of the "Office" world, according to Marcia Rhinehart, a preK-12 librarian at the Sturgeon R-V School District (MO). Rhinehart said, "Good typing skills are important since they are used every time a teacher sits down at a computer. Teachers need to effectively communicate to everyone in their school world --including parents, students, administrators and community members."

3) Being willing to learn new technology: Does a mindset really count as a tech skill? According to survey respondents, the answer is a resounding yes. The response took many forms, but it all came back to "stay curious" and "be willing to learn from students."

Jamie Back, a math teacher at Cincinnati Country Day School (OH), suggested that educators, "develop a grit/growth mindset. Be willing to try new things, persevere through issues that come up, and keep focusing on a goal of using technology in a way that increases student understanding of the material."

4) Connecting with social media: The paradigm-shifting influence of online networking has clearly infiltrated the halls of education. Respondents touted the importance of platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Good reads; as well as the more general practices of podcasting and videocasting. …

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