Eight edtech pioneers to follow in 2016

Dr Julie Wood

Dr Julie Wood is the founder and academic director of TechnoTeaching, a global consulting agency for educators. She is also the coauthor, along with UK educator Nicole Ponsford, of TechnoTeaching: Taking Practice the Next Level in a Digital World (Harvard Education Press). A former faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

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If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’re at least a bit techy. You might be a newbie in your first or second year of teaching: a newbie who wants to learn from other like-minded educators all over the world. Or maybe you’re a knowledgable teacher: you’re at the top of your game in many ways, but your New Year’s resolution is to take on new challenges—ones that will step up your teaching. Or perhaps you’re several years into your career: you’re an excellent teacher who is committed to lifelong learning.

In ancient times, before we were all interconnected digitally (when I was a classroom teacher in the US), you had to seek out innovators in your school, community, possibly even a tank of gas (or petrol?) away. Meeting movers and shakers often meant trekking out to far-flung conferences or enrolling in University courses. Had I been able to glance into a crystal ball, I’d have been astounded by all the opportunities given to us today.

You, dear reader, are just a few clicks away from learning from some of the most creative edtech innovators in the field. These are the teachers / consultants / writers who are on high alert for new ideas that they can test them out in classrooms (if they have the opportunity), and often provide step-by-step tips along with photos of pupils in action. Bonus! They do it all for free. For these educators it’s all about helping others improve their teaching and learning.

Who are these edtech pioneers? How do they think about their practice? And how can you learn from them and give them feedback? The following pioneers represent just a small sampling, but I hope their ideas will lead to more exploration on your part, as well as greater excitement and satisfaction in your teaching.

1. Alan Peat, as many UK readers know, is a prolific author with an international following, an educational consultant, and an app developer. Alan began his career as a Primary school teacher, which dovetailed with his interest in music, history and writing. Follow Alan to learn about literacy, creativity, digital tools and apps for the classroom (including iVisualiser, an app currently used in 86 countries!).

2. Beth Holland, communications coordinator and instructor at EdTechTeacher, was once a reluctant participant in social media. Now, she says, she sees the value in sharing resources, writing posts, and answering questions. She particularly loves sharing new resources that help make teaching more engaging, dynamic, and fun than traditional methods. You can follow Beth through her writing for Edutopia, where she writes about everything from assistive technologies to mobile learning and iPad pilot programs. You can also read her article on Using Design Thinking to Bridge Theory and Practice with Digital Portfolios.

3. Craig Kemp is, in his words, an “educator, dream creator, and leader”. Raised in New Zealand, Craig is now the head of ICT and Learning Innovation at Stamford American School, Singapore. You can follow Craig at the #whatisschool edchat, an award-winning chat that he co-founded on Twitter. Craig’s passions include becoming globally connected and supporting global learning opportunities in the classroom. Check out his popular blog www.mrkempnz.com and these two must-read posts:

4. Alice Keeler is a Google certified teacher and blogger who has gained an impressive following through her Twitter feed and her helpful free monthly newsletter. Passionate about educators’ need to stay current in their field, Alice shares as much as possible. She has also co-authored a book (with Dr. Libbi Miller) titled 50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom. You might also be interested in checking out her (over 60!) blog posts about Google Classroom.

5. Shawn McCusker, who has over twenty years of experience teaching adolescents, is passionate about creating online communities (see #sschat, #engsschat, and #1to1techat on Twitter). Shawn is also a frequent contributor to Mindshift and Free Technology for Teachers. Have a look. Then follow Shawn’s advice: “Go where you grow and share what you learn.”

6. Carl Hendrick, English teacher and head of Learning and Research at Berkshire’s Wellington College, where he is also a doctoral candidate, aims to bridge research and practice in education by becoming a researcher himself. Carl believes in the types of grassroots efforts that social media, in particular Twitter, can support. He also believes in holding people who purport to be educators (“charlatans,” as he calls them) accountable by checking to see if their work is aligned with the latest research findings. For those of you with academic leanings, here are three articles by Carl, each of which explores a key issue.

7. Monica Burns, author of the popular blog ClassTechTips, offers daily tips and news about edtech innovations. An Apple distinguished educator, Monica is an edtech and curriculum consultant as well as a contributor to Edutopia, where she writes for teachers drawing upon her classroom experience (eg implementing a 1:1 iPad program).

8. Richard Byrne, all-around innovator and a sought-after edtech speaker all over the world, is also a Google certified teacher. A former high school teacher, Richard also posted regularly on his website, Free Technology for Teachers (I’m sold on this resource alone!). In 2011 he won an Edublogs Award for Best Resource Sharing, and eventually became a full-time consultant and writer. Check out a few of Richard’s popular articles:

Feeling inspired? Revved up for the second half of the school year? If so, which of these resources will you check out? Which edtech strategies will you adapt for your classroom or school?

Let Julie know your answer below!

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