8 Desirable Digital Skills For Teachers

How often do you find yourself in awe of, or even intimidated by, the digital skills of your students?

This week, I sat in my school’s computer lab and marveled at the high level of ICT expertise being displayed by a group of Year 3 to 5 students. The group had been asked to take a series of photographs that could be sequenced together to tell a story. They were given the task of using any editing program available on our system to enhance their photographs. I watched on as some students used Adobe Photoshop like seasoned Graphic Design Professionals. I witnessed other students using functions and shortcuts in Microsoft Word that I had never seen before. It quickly became pretty obvious to me that the ICT skills of my students far surpassed my own!

In the paper “Their Space: Education for a Digital Generation,” Green and Hanlon argue that educators “see the world from a very different perspective to the generation of young people who do not remember life without the instant answers of the internet or the immediate communication of mobile phones” (2006: 15). They argue “that teachers are not trained to use new technologies adequately and this has a profoundly negative impact on their confidence.” (2006: 67). How do we meet the needs of the Digital Natives in our classrooms when their digital skills seem to outpace our own?

Green and Hanlon’s research identifies four different ‘types’ of Digital Natives to be found amongst our students:
Digital pioneers were blogging before the phrase had been coined
Creative producers are building websites, posting movies, photos and music to share with friends, family and beyond
Everyday communicators are making their lives easier through texting and MSN
Information gatherers are Google and Wikipedia addicts, ‘cutting and pasting’ as a way of life. (2006: 11)

Based on these user types, we’ve developed a list of the 8 digital skills we believe teachers need to possess to confidently and creatively use the technologies that resonate with their students.

  • 1. Ability to establish a blog or wiki

    Green and Hanlon note that “collaborating online has become second nature for young people playing multiplayer online games, but we found that this willingness to work together rarely extended to schoolwork where notions of ‘cheating’ and an emphasis on individual achievement still dominate” (2006: 68).
    Working on classroom blogs or wikis provides students with the perfect opportunity to collaborate both offline and online.

    Click below to assist in the development of this skill:
    An introduction to educational blogging
    Tips on Educational Blogging from teacher Kathleen Morris.



3. Ability to use and create video content

In his TED Talk, Khan Academy founder Salman Khan, discusses the way video can inspire and engage students and transform the learning taking place within the classroom. Through video, Khan argues, we can reinvent education.

Click below to assist in the development of this skill:
• 80 educational alternatives to YouTube
• Examples of how video content is produced in the classroom here, here and here.
• The Top 10 Reasons Why Film-making is 21st Century Learning
• 11 Great Video Tools For Teachers


4. Ability to create digital audio content

The ability to create digital audio content enables teachers to create multimodal texts as emphasised by the new Australian Curriculum.

Click below to assist in the development of this skill:
Scootle has a number of online tutorial videos on how to create audio using Audacity.
Free Audio Tools for Teachers


5. Ability to use social media for professional development opportunities

Standards 6 and 7 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers address the domain of Professional Engagement. Teachers are expected to belong to and contribute to professional networks and social media provides teachers with a unique opportunity to engage with their colleagues and contribute to their professional learning. Just search #edchat on Twitter to see the professional discourse taking place amongst educators across the world.
(It is important to be familiar with the Social Media Policy of your Teaching Body.)

Click below to assist in the development of this skill:
Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Social Media In Education


6. Ability to use social bookmarking sites to collate resources

The Internet provides us with a plethora of teaching resources. How do we curate all this online content for classroom use? Below are some great social bookmarking sites that help you discover, share and organise your resources so that you can access it in an efficient manner.

Click below to assist in the development of this skill:


7. Ability to search the web in an efficient and effective manner

How many times have you begun researching content for a lesson and fallen down a rabbit-hole of websites and resources? Being able to find the needed resources in a timely fashion is imperative for the time-poor teacher.

Click below to assist in the development of this skill:
The Entire Google Search Guide for Teachers


8. Ability to embrace game-based learning

The 2011 Innovating With Technology Games-Based Learning trials, conducted by the Victorian Department of Education and Training, found that Games-Based Learning engaged and empowered students to build skills in the domains of problem solving, decision making, collaboration , student-directed learning and creativity.

Click below to assist in the development of this skill:
An excellent resource showcasing Games-Based Learning in Victorian Schools
Tips, techniques and tools from Edutopia

Are there other digital skills you believe need to be added to this list?
What digital skill/s are you hoping to work on during the upcoming school year?