The Core Four Educator Requirements

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Being a master educator today requires reorienting ourselves to the world for which we are preparing our students, and acquiring the skills to prepare them for that future. These are not new skills; I know I’ve been talking about them for a while now, as have others. But until now, these skills have been negotiable, based on abilities and interests. Today they’re no longer optional. We must master them, demonstrating functional proficiency:

Human Potential Expertise

Regardless of the level at which we teach, educators need to know how human learning takes place. It’s no longer enough to know curriculum, and it’s no longer acceptable to only meet students intellectual needs. From preschool through college, we must address their cognitive, affective, physical and social-emotional needs. They have to feel safe and healthy, supported and challenged, and most of all engaged in their learning. Our bottom line is each and every student successfully realizing their full potential. That’s our charge, our mission, and our goal.
Read more about being a human potential professional here.

Global Citizenship

Beyond traditional concepts, children need to prepare for their role in a global society. Of course, community, state and national citizenship still matter, but today’s students are interacting with peers from around the world. They need contexts for understanding international events, cultural differences and opportunities for meaningful collaboration. Students must observe us modeling global citizenship in the same ways we model civic responsibility, networking virtually with colleagues worldwide, and learning by doing in the process. We have to walk the walk.
Read more about learning and working in the global knowledge economy here.

Technology Fluency

We have colleagues who still have no problem saying they don’t “get” technology, shrugging off their responsibility to learn to use digital tools available to them in the classroom. This is no longer acceptable. To prepare students for their future, we need to be able to think and create technologically. And it’s not enough to know how to use technology for personal productivity; we need to know how to use it as learners, workers, risk-takers, answer-seekers and problem-solvers. Technology fluency means seamlessly, incidentally using digital tools to get the job done.
Read more about technology fluency in education here.

Content Expertise

Of course, being a subject matter expert is critical for student learning. But let’s expand our thinking on relevant content expertise. Academic disciplines? Certainly. But there’s so much more. New Literacies: visual, digital scientific, information, media. New ways to work with professionals in their fields of expertise, contribute to the global body of knowledge, and publish new understandings. Each of these content areas can be mastered by doing…rolling up our sleeves with students…living the lifelong learning ideal. And there’s no time like the present…
Consider the role of new literacies in the knowledge economy workplace here.

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Not only are we no longer the sage on the stage, we’re not the guide on the side, either. We need to stop thinking of ourselves as lead learners, too. We are becoming learning agents, connecting students with the experiences, experts and resources that meet their individual needs. And to be an effective learning agent, we need to master these core four skill sets. No options. No excuses. Now.

Future-Fluent

 

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One of the key concepts that came out of the STEM movement ten years back was technology fluency: the incidental and seamless use of technology tools to achieve learning and productivity goals within a discipline or profession. It was significant to distinguish instructional technology from technology as a distinct body of knowledge. Fluency takes the use of technology to the next level; the age of mere technology integration was over.

So how is it, ten years later, everything I read coming out of ed tech social media touts the goal of technology integration, as if it has not already occurred? It’s headlined in conferences, webinars, books and blogs. You would think we were still trying to convince people that technology needed a place in teaching and learning.

The concept of fluency is out there. Gurus and practitioners alike are happy to pronounce the importance of technology-enriched learning experiences “not being about the technology.” My question is: why are educators still trying to make the case? It’s almost as though by talking about it, we ensure that it continues to BE about the technology.

Look at your Twitter feed on any given day. Teachers and tech specialists are posting lessons and strategies for specific brands and models of technology. The premise is that it’s about the learning, but the underlying message is it’s still about the technology.

Vendors must love it, to have educators promoting their hardware and software as if it’s THE way to successfully enrich learning. The culture is so brand-centric, we have entire cadres of teachers proudly posting on their profiles their vendor-conferred designations as “distinguished” this and “certified” that and unwittingly promoting technology brands in the process.

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The entire ed tech culture is stuck in its identification with technology brands. And I get it. We love to tinker and learn new tools. It’s like Christmas whenever a new pallet of hardware arrives for deployment. New apps that continue to make collaboration, learning and assessment easier and more effective come out every week. We can literally spend our entire careers chasing the next big breakthrough in what tech has to offer. It’s exciting and stimulating and engaging. But what does any of it have to do with tech fluency?

What other profession spends its time touting its tech toys? When you go into your bank, is technology in your face? How about at your local shopping mall? Your doctor’s office? Supermarket? Gas station? Restaurant? No; the technology is only evident if you look for it. Technology is woven into the background of business processes and professional practices. The tech experts that support these places are all about seamless functionality that support and (more importantly) don’t disrupt business. Why should education be different? Why is it still about the technology?

This year, as we continue our journey living-and-learning-and-doing-and-creating-and-sharing-and-celebrating human potential, I implore ed techies and educators everywhere to thoughtfully, consciously move towards the seamless, incidental use of technology, rather than the gadget-centered tech-gluttony that is pervasive and preventing us from fulfilling its promise.

I’ve been saying it for years: “If we work to realize the promise of technology in the classroom, we are working our way out of our jobs.” It goes against our instincts and interests as techies, but if we are doing our job well, teachers will become self-confident in their technology fluency and the hardware and software will become part of the learning environment backdrop.

What’s you M.O.? Self-interest and self-preservation, or contributing to a new epoch of human innovation and achievement? Stop using “technology integration” in your instructional technology dialogue. Model, argue and advocate for technology fluency.

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Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century [INFOGRAPHIC]

Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century [INFOGRAPHIC]

In Google Analytics’ “Sharpening Your Skills for the Data-Driven Age” infographic, the case is made for data fluency and its associated skills and the data to back it up. Links to vital resources to dig deeper are included and worth perusing.