Educational technology is a growing, thriving subsection of education. It is exciting, fast-paced, ever-changing and can be intimidating.
More district administrators are entering the field to show how they are technologically transforming their schools and districts using ways that are unique and innovative. Since it can be intimidating, here are five quick steps to begin increasing your EdTech footprint.
Increasing your EdTech footprint is synonymous with being active on social media. No matter what you think of social media, you have to meet your audience where they are. To start, I suggest joining Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
There are many educators sharing incredible tricks, tips, events and other information through those platforms and you want to become one of them. Join, like, share, and then start posting your own thoughts and contributions.
One of the mistakes educators make is assuming that everyone knows what you know and does what you do. They don’t. You will be surprised how many educators will be inspired by your contributions just like you are inspired by theirs. Do not keep your genius to yourself. Share and get active.
After you become active on social media, you will begin noticing your professional learning network (PLN) grow. Start recognizing those people who post quality, innovative items that interest you. Reach out to them and start conversations to build your tribe.
One of the mistakes educators make is assuming that everyone knows what you know and does what you do. They don’t.
Your tribe is those educators you trust for advice and collaboration. They will also become the people who share new opportunities with you, such as speaking engagements, chances to write articles and other opportunities to grow. Once you begin speaking at conferences, writing articles, and generally getting your name recognized, you will begin increasing your EdTech footprint even more.
As your EdTech footprint increases and your name is more recognizable, consider branding yourself. Branding helps you create an image and control your message. It also allows you to become an easily recognizable entity that can be trusted for quality.
Begin by asking yourself who your audience is, what you are trying to accomplish, what are your biggest strengths and where do you want to be in five years? The answers to those questions will help you decide if branding is right for you.
If you begin making money for your brand, consider creating an LLC to separate your personal finances from your brand finances. This may be in the future for you, but keep this in the back of your mind as getting more connected often leads to more visibility and greater opportunities.
Almost every technology company has some type of certification. If you are competitive, it can become an obsession to get every badge you can. However, I warn against that for two reasons.
First, getting certified in a company tells your audience that you are a user of their products and endorse it. You want to ensure that you are never promoting a company/product unless you feel they are positive for education.
Secondly, most of these certifications come with communities of educators who are very passionate about the tech product/company. By getting certified, you are getting more than a badge, you are becoming a part of a new tribe. Make certain it is a tribe you actually want to join. Choose wisely and begin working on your tech certifications.
As you begin learning about more tech tools and getting certifications, you will see a dark side of EdTech: brand loyalty. It sounds good, right? However, brand loyalty can sometimes limit educators to only using one brand to accomplish goals and not being open to using others which may help them accomplish their goal more efficiently.
Of course, you will have your favorite tools, but do not feel pressured to only use or teach about one tool versus the other. The more diverse your learning and teaching are, the better.
Desiree Alexander is the Regional Director of North Louisiana for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana and is the Founder CEO of Educator Alexander Consulting, LLC. She will be a featured speaker at DA’s FETC 2020.
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