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Sep 9, 2021

Back to School Tips and the Most Important EdTech Skill

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The pandemic has presented many challenges for educators, who spent the past year-plus flexing their flexibility muscles, bouncing between remote, hybrid, and in-person learning, often teaching in-person and virtual students simultaneously. Educators were all forced to become EdTech heroes overnight.

In this episode of EdTech Heroes, host Nefertiti Dukes sits down with Kasey Bell, CEO of Shake Up Learning to talk about how we can shake up our new normal. Whether you are a self-professed techie or a newbie, she'll share advice about bringing asynchronous learning to the face-to-face classroom, the importance of the EdTech mindset, and the dos and don'ts of integrating EdTech intentionally.

Guest at-a-glance

👋 Name: Kasey Bell

🖥 What she does: Kasey is the CEO of Shake Up Learning.

🏫 Company: Shake Up Learning

✍️ Noteworthy: A former middle school teacher, EdTech hero Kasey is an award-winning digital learning coach, international speaker, author, blogger, and podcaster.

🌎 Where to find Kasey: Twitter | Facebook | TikTok | Instagram | YouTube

Key insights

Never use EdTech for the sake of EdTech. Kasey reminds teachers to use EdTech to support the learning, not the other way around. 

"You don't start with the tech tool even though you might get excited as I do. Like, 'Oh, this is so cool. I can't wait to try these new features.' That's not where you start. It might inspire you, but you start with your learning goal. You start with your standard. That's where you are. 

And then you pick from your toolbox what's going to help you get there. And that's where you stick with your tried and true tools. And you can gradually sprinkle in the new stuff," she says.

Your mindset towards EdTech matters more than your skill level. No matter where you are in your EdTech journey, Kasey says you need the right attitude to be successful. 

"That mindset piece is huge. Not walking into the room saying, 'I'm not good with technology.' That's one of the things teachers used to walk into my training, and they would tell me, like, warn me ahead of time, 'I just want you to know, I'm just not good with technology if I touch it, it breaks.' That's that mindset. 

So you cannot walk in and expect that things are going to go wrong. You need to have a positive attitude, and you need to embrace these changes and these tools," she says.

The biggest EdTech skill you should work on is video. Kasey encourages you to start by honing your video skills. 

"When I'm talking about asynchronous, I'm talking about video and creating videos. [...] if you are using something like Screencastify to record some lessons for your students, there are free resources and lots of tutorials and things like that. 

But I think honing your skills at recording video, knowing how to assign video is a really big piece of that pie for blended learning with the asynchronous option," she says.

Episode Highlights

🎥 Introducing Asynchronous Learning 

"Every kid doesn't have to do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time, and everything doesn't have to be in this live teacher-led environment. For years, we have been trying to get this shift from the sage on the stage to the guide on the side. 

The idea that teachers have to be prepared for teaching in this asynchronous manner is very different, taking on the role of the facilitator. I share a lot of things like choice boards and embedding choice, period. 

Giving students more ownership, helping them to manage their own assignments and time, and to learn how to use all of these tools that we have at our disposal for learning as opposed to distraction."

💻 EdTech Development Relies on Online Resources

"Everybody's learned something on YouTube, and it is the second largest search engine. So if you're looking for a tutorial, somebody made it. Of course, you have to filter through what's up to date and the junk and things like that. But as a teacher, that is a go-to 'I don't know how to do this.' In terms of support and Google, support.google.com is your best friend.

But in terms of the professional learning communities, there are so many hashtags. I can't even keep up. There is a #ShakeUpLearning hashtag if you want to connect with other members of my team and people there and me. 

We have a Facebook group as well. I am even on TikTok. I don't know how many people are now doing that, but they're teachers of TikTok. I have been posting tutorials there. 

There are lots of places where teachers are just willing to help each other. Whatever it is, you can pop in there and ask a question, and lots of people will respond. So you get the knowledge of the mass group. Instead of just reaching out to the teacher next door, you're talking to thousands of teachers at once. And that's pretty powerful."

🙋 Why We Need Asynchronous Learning in the Face-to-Face Classroom

"We've got the face-to-face classrooms, but if you have asynchronous learning going on, you may have small group instruction going on in one corner. You've got students working on project-based learning in another corner and some other students who may be creating something on their Chromebooks in another corner. 

That's one of the things that are scary for teachers, and it was scary for me the first time I made that shift. 

But every kid is not doing the same thing at the same time. The power of embracing that asynchronous learning is, kids can watch and rewatch videos over and over as much as they need. You don't have to repeat a lesson for a student who was absent; it's just this magical clone of the teacher. 

Once you get adapted to the new style, then it actually takes less time because you're not doing all the work. The students are doing the work. When you lecture all the time, you're handing that full load to your kids and expecting them to absorb every moment. And it just doesn't happen."

🧑‍🎓 We Need to Change How We Teach to Show Kids How to Learn

"Accepting the fact that the internet exists and that we can't shut things down. When you give a test or a quiz, you can't pretend that google.com doesn't exist. If you can Google the answer, then maybe we need to ask deeper questions that aren't Google-able. 

We have to rethink the assignments that we're doing, whether that is face-to-face or blended, because those kids that are face-to-face are Googling it too under the desk with their phones. It's just about embracing the changes and using these things to our advantage. 

Instead of being intimidated and frustrated by the distraction, how can we use these tools for learning and teaching kids? What learning looks like, whether they are in our classroom or riding the bus home. 

If they are looking up a Minecraft trick on YouTube, that's learning. And I want students to recognize that because that helps them build that growth mindset.

The number one skill that we can teach our students is to learn how to learn. Everything's going to change so quickly for us right now, but it's going to increase and get faster as technology increases and becomes more embedded in everything that we do. 

So we want our kids to grow up and to know how to find their own answers and how to solve their own problems."

💯 Resist the Need to Be Perfect

"[Know] that it's not going to be perfect. So we are on a podcast right now that's edited, and sometimes I get tongue-tied. Sometimes I tell people I run out of words, especially at the end of the day, I just start making up new words. 

But your classroom does not have to be perfect. And in fact, your kids like it when you're not perfect. 

We talked about the power of making mistakes. So if you are making videos, not to get caught up in the fact that every video that has some, 'Oh, wait, I didn't mean to do that. Let me go back.' 

Because, what are you going to do in the face-to-face environment? That's what happens. So, accepting those little mistakes and those little things that go wrong and just moving forward because that's all we can do."

Highly quotable

  • [18:44] "You have to be really careful when you get distracted by what I call the shiny objects - the new things that are out there may not be tried and true."
  • [24:59] "Kids like the new stuff. They get tired of Google slides. So we have to be careful and find that balance and use the things that will engage our students and not something that they get in every single classroom."
  • [30:59] "I did well in high school. I wasn't initially the teacher's pet, but I wasn't the kid that was getting in trouble. And then I went to college, and I quickly learned that no one had taught me how to learn. And when I got to college, they expected me to learn on my own. They weren't going to spoon-feed me everything that I had been spoon-fed through my K-12 experience."
  • [31:38] "We can't just expect that a worksheet and a packet are going to prepare kids for the future, nor can we expect that we are building this entire workforce of Scantron bubble fillers."
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