Name: Chris Betcher (@betchaboy | www.chrisbetcher.com)
School: Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney, Australia
Current title: ICT Integrator
Selected accolades: Google Certified Teacher, Adobe Education Leader
What is your role at your school?
I currently work with teachers and students from R-12 to help them use digital technologies in meaningful ways to enrich the teaching and learning experience. I started my teaching career as an art teacher, but have always been most fascinated by computers and digital tools, so quickly moved into the areas of multimedia, design, the web, and all things computer related.
What is the best part of your job?
Working with kids. It’s a privilege to work with this generation every day to create positive ripples of influence. I’m passionate about helping kids understand the impact that digital technologies and the web are having on our lives, and how to use these amazing technologies to make the world a better place for everyone.
From where do you draw professional inspiration? How do you stay connected and grow as an educator?
Learning is most meaningful when both social and active. Finding like-minded people and tapping into their collective wisdom is the best and most efficient way to learn, so I’m always keen on any tools that enable this to happen. Once you get out of a vacuum and connect with others who share your interests, learning naturally happens.
The massive social revolution (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, wikis and podcasts) we have been witnessing on the web over the last few years has connected people in ways that we could barely imagine previously. These tools are enabling like-minded people to find each other and then come together to share and learn.
For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?
Start by finding a few blogs you enjoy reading – take a look at the recent Edublogs Award nominees at and browse around to find some that look interesting to you. If you really want to do this the efficient way, use an RSS aggregation tool such as Google Reader to subscribe to these blogs instead. That way, the latest updates come to you instead of you having to go get them. Once you feel comfortable leaving comments, think about starting your own blog.
Second, get yourself on Twitter. Twitter seems trivial and strange at first glance, but it requires scale to get the true power it offers. Connect yourself with people you find interesting, but don’t stop until you are following at least 50 people. You need at least 50 before it makes sense, but they have to be the right 50. There are plenty of lists on the Internet of Twitter-using educators, but a good starting point would be http://wefollow.com/twitter/education. For a decent explanation of just why Twitter is so powerful, you might like to read this blog post I wrote on the topic: http://chrisbetcher.com/2011/04/1483/.
Finally, find some educational podcasts you enjoy – there are plenty to choose from. They are free, very time efficient, and you’d be amazed at what you can learn this way.
What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?
- Learn to create networks for their own personal learning
- Learn to manage the information overload that comes with living in the 21st Century
- Learn to work collaboratively across boundaries of time and place
- Learn to build and structure content to be informative and persuasive
- Learn to make information work for them
- Learn to use information legally and ethically
I also think these very same skills need to owned by every educator who puts themselves in front of students on a daily basis. You cannot teach these skills if you don’t have them yourself. The most important thing we can do for our students is to demonstrate leadership and model the sorts of behaviors we expect them to acquire.