How do you stay current when there is a constant stream of new tech? Should you?
I have an unfair advantage in this area. It is part of my job and a deep personal interest to keep up with what is changing in technology. I just like it! In many ways the better question should be how do you keep up in learning methods. The technology simply facilitates better learning today.
Podcasting, both recording and listening to them, keeps me current. My personal favorites for tech podcasting are:
I also look at my FlipBoard feeds everyday and read the latest information. That is another great source.
For the non-nerd, I suggest adopting the SAMR Model and bring it into your teaching practice. You will then have some specific reasons to go out and search for a learning technology that will assist you.
I think we all agree that tech for tech’s sake is more destructive than it is constructive. In the same way, I think that “keeping up with tech” so that we can be “up to date on tech” is similarly self-defeating. For me, tech is the way that I do what I do. “Technology” encompasses the devices that surround me in my house and at work, and technology is the way that I accomplish most of my daily tasks. As such, I have a personal stake in having devices (hardware) that make my life more pleasant, and applications (software) that improve my workflow. I have very little investment in finding new things to do, or new ways to do what I already do. I like to have a vantage point from which to see the world of technology whizz by in case there’s something I think might be useful, but don’t feel the need to immerse myself within that stream.
As per the argument above, I stay “current” by checking a select few blogs (macrumors.com and macobserver.com come to mind), and then following people on Twitter who are more immersed in tech than I. Most of the time I glance at the information stream, and only actually read things that I’m actually interested in. Once I start reading articles for the sake of reading articles, I tend to get either grumpy or sleepy, very rarely retain the information, and the net gain to my life is negligible.
I think the big question here is, should non-techies stay up on tech? At this point, I think it’s about community, and whether or not you are able to stay current and contribute to the community in which you operate. Increasingly, tech is about collaboration. If your state of technology is such that it inhibits your ability to collaborate with those around you, then I think it’s more a matter of being a contributing member of a community than being “on top of tech.”
I think that I am probably the least “techy” of the group. I like that tech makes my life easier and my teaching practice more effective, but I am definitely not someone who knows the latest and greatest of everything or even really reads what is new in technology on blogs. More than that I don’t even necessarily love going to purely tech conferences. I know, I really shouldn’t say that as a former tech coach, but the truth is that I’d much rather go to something that is talking about how technology applies to teaching. I’m a teacher who likes tech not a techie who happens to teach.
From the sound of all that you would probably think that I don’t actually keep up with technology at all. But I think I actually manage to keep up with trends quite well but I do it the lazy way: by benefiting from the knowledge of those around me. I have found that the best way for me to keep up with tech is by being friends with those who do. I talk with colleagues who get excited about being the first to know what’s new, I fill my twitter with people who are up on the latest and greatest and I attend edtech conferences to see how people have used the newest tech in their classrooms. I find wading through tech websites and reading Wired magazine exhausting, but I love checking in with my truly techie colleagues and hearing about the newest thing that they are thrilled about.
The interesting thing is that they love filling me in, so even though you might say that my methods are lazy, I think that in the end it’s a win win situation. I end up learning what is new and in the process build relationships with some pretty amazing people and I like to think that they enjoy sharing their passion for tech with me as well.
Honestly, how would I know if I were not current, other than gut feel? Ok, less sophistry. I watch trends, consider what benefits teaching/learning/thinking may realize, and move on. My metric is, essentially, does this app/website/service/tool make the process more efficient and effective. Further, is it easy to learn and apply? The importance of the latter is in inverse proportion to the former, though it is always welcome. This is my lens through which I measure the utility of a given EdTech tool.
I also make it a point to attend functions related to my crafts as teacher and tech coach. I attend ISTE, 21st Century Learning, and curriculum-specific seminars. I present at the same. Further, I research and reflect daily. I see it as my job, and I like my job very much. I also edit and write for ICT in Practice, an EdTech publication based in Great Britain. Finally, I apply what I learn through broadcasting several shows per week.
Speaking of attending conferences, I just got back from CES Asia, here in Shanghai. Right now the hot techie trend is virtual reality. I know because of all of the Oculus Ri-poffs here in China. They were on display in many a booth at the First-ever CES Asia (Should have been called CES Small Chinese Businesses). Clearly, non-Chinese companies were either not invited or strongly encouraged not to attend (compete for attention) with their lesser, local rivals and start ups. Oh, such is life.