We’re living in a world where technology plays an increasing role in our everyday lives, and teaching tools are much more advanced than a blackboard and chalk. In order to get the most out of all the amazing resources out there, enhance your lessons and make life easier for yourself, here are five essential IT skills that you need as a teacher.
It will make your life much easier if you’re able to use different operating systems. PCs and Mac computers have different operating systems, which work in different ways – being able to use either setup in language schools and offices is a good skill to have.
It’s important to be proficient in using Google applications. Drive is important because it’s a really good collaborative tool for large groups of people and a great way of creating a shared resource bank. You can share documents easily with colleagues and students and you never lose anything. Students can upload their homework and you can mark it within Drive which is a great way of cutting down on the piles of paper that can feel so overwhelming for teachers! Everything is accessible from anywhere with wifi, so you can teach using your own resources in offices, at home, in cafes and you’ll never be stuck for material. Google calendars is good for organising your schedule and reminding private students of classes. You’ll also be able to share your schedule with your DoS so they can see your availability when organising new classes. With Google docs everything is easily searchable and well organised, so you’ll be able to access resources quickly and easily when planning a lesson. Check out this guide to Google apps for some detailed instruction on using Drive, Calendar and Docs.
You’ll need to have at least intermediate word-processing skills. You should be able to do screengrabs, be comfortable with formatting and creating tables, adding hyperlinks, converting documents to PDF – all these skills are crucial when creating your own materials. There are lots of free online tutorials like this one to show you the ropes.
Try to get an idea of the basics of computer networks and printers. This infographic explains how printers work in clear, easy-to-understand language. Every printer is different, but if you Google your school’s specific model, you’ll find the instructions online, or you can ask someone to show you how to turn it on, scan, print, make photocopies, change the toner and refill the paper. It’s a good idea to take notes so you can refer to them afterwards – printers aren’t wildly interesting so it’s easy to forget the instructions!
Another important IT skill is being adept at using video conferencing platforms such as Skype. A good way to practice and feel comfortable with communicating via online video is to Skype your friends. This is an important skill in the TEFL world as it will open the doors to teaching English online, which is becoming increasingly popular and profitable.
Most importantly, you need to have a willingness to engage with and learn about new technology. Lots of people don’t feel confident when it comes to working with computers, but taking small steps, asking questions and being open to new ideas are all part and parcel of teaching!