Friday, November 30, 2007

tt4t_014 Finding time to learn

It’s Friday, November 30, 2007 and welcome to Episode 14 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Finding the time to learn more about technology is always a challenge for the busy educator. Here are a few of my tips that I use to “find time” to improve my technology skills as well as to constantly improve myself in other areas of my life.

Download MP3

1) First, making time to learn new things is a necessity. You do not have a choice. It has been said that human knowledge is doubling every 18 to 24 months. That means if you stop learning right now the half-life of your existing knowledge is roughly two years. While this may not be true in all content areas it is certainly true in the world of technology. It can be easy to give up and not try because this seems so overwhelming. If you are in the business of education giving up is not an option. An educators job is to prepare students for the future so continuous learning is a must. Remember my motto? Keep on learning…

2) Secondly, multitasking is your friend. Our children are wonderful multitaskers that the older generation often does not understand. Children text, (often having multiple conversations simultaneously), listen to music, and do homework. This leaves adults skeptics as to how much our children are really learning. Yet todays children multitask with little effort and are learning. How do I take advantage of multi-tasking? About my only so called free time is when I commute or exercise so I use this time by listening to podcasts about specific topics I am interested in. This has greatly influenced my professional development habits and has made me more productive at work and at home.

3) My third tip for better managing your time is to use a centralized scheduling program. I currently use the Microsoft Outlook Calendar program. By having a centralized calendar you can coordinate all of your activities in one place. This prevents time conflicts and keeps you on task. Since I have web access to Outlook I can look up and add to my calendar anywhere there is Internet access.

4) Time and place shifting. As much as we would like to you cannot be everywhere, consider making digital content available for repetitious duties that you currently perform. For example create a digital lesson that your students can use at a learning center. Produce minipodcasts of material for students that need material repeated over and over. This will free up your time to work with another student or group.

5) Access to information anytime and anywhere. By far one of the biggest productivity tools for me is having critical files available online that I can access anywhere there is an Internet connection. Getting away from the desktop computer paradigm as the central storage location of data and moving to the network paradigm will greatly increase your productivity. Google docs and spreadsheets offers this capability as well as other online storage solutions. Other Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis also make it easy for you to have information available to you and to others 24x7, 365 days a year.

How do you improve your productivity? Send me an email to with your suggestions on how you use technology to improve your productivity.

With all of that being said I also find it necessary to periodically unplug myself from the rapid pace of todays modern society. I call this going off the grid and for me personally this is necessary in order for me to keep up my enthusiasm and not become bruned out. Get away every now and then and go enjoy nature and the wonders of the world. There is much more to life than work so enjoy yourself.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week


A quick Tour of Rubistar

My Technology Pick of the week this week is called Rubistar and is an online rubric creator that is free to educators that want to create their own rubrics. This website has rubric templates for many different subject areas and is also searchable. Be sure to check out the Quick Tour of Rubistar link provided in the show notes for this episode to help get you started using this tool quickly. You may select standard templates for your rubrics or you may completely customize rubrics to meet your individual needs.

Having clearly defined rubrics especially for project based learning helps both the teacher and the students by clearly defining assessment criteria before a project is started. You can also create a rubric with the assistance of your students so that they can help you in defining the parameters of a project. This gives the students a sense of responsibility and prepares them for the actual project. Thousands of rubrics have been created at this site and rubrics may also be shared with others. There is also an interactive rubric but that requires registration and a login to the site. Be sure to check this site out the next time you are creating a rubric for your assignments.

That wraps it up for this episode. Show notes for Episode 14 and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at So until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

No comments: