Technology has become critically important to teach in schools. Not only will students need these skills for their future jobs, but it’s simply the way innovation is heading.
However, as technology is “new” to education in the larger scheme of things, teachers have found themselves at a critical juncture. For some teachers, it’s a matter of not having the skill-set necessary to teach the subject. Even for teachers who are technology wizards, there’s still the question of how to teach it.
This is where we come to technology associations, which offer communities and resources to help teachers on this challenging journey. In this article, we’ll discuss a bit about what technology associations are, what sort of qualities you’ll probably want them to have, and, of course, the best ones.
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What Is A Technology Association, And Why Are They Useful For Teachers?
A technology association is something that can be a bit hard to define – as each association is different and offers different help. In general, though, it is an organization that is dedicated to one or more of the following things:
- Helping teachers integrate technology and digital tools into the classroom
- Providing professional development opportunities to advance skills
- Showcasing content providers for technology-based subjects
- Encouraging community so teachers can help each other
Inevitably, this can be considered a teacher’s professional team whose sole dedication is supporting their teaching efforts. This way, teachers can focus on the important task of helping students, and not worry about the nitty gritty details of figuring out how.
These associations are also usually big on working with governments and other official groups in order to improve how technology is taught in schools.
What Should A Teacher Want From A Technology Association?
Although the goal of technology associations is relatively simple, they all offer something a little different for teachers to take advantage of – making it challenging to decide the one that is best for you.
To make it easier to decide on a technology association, we’ve gone more in-depth into the qualities we just mentioned of a good technology association. This way you can explore the core features with a bigger eye for detail.
A Focus On Professional Development
Professional development should have a central focus of a technology association, because this is one of the biggest areas where teachers need a lot of help.
Now, this can mean a few different things. On the one hand, of course, you’ll want courses specifically aimed at helping you improve your teaching. This can included courses that cover the actual technology subjects to be taught, to methodologies that make teaching technology easier for kids.
However, some professional development resources can also factor in using technology in classrooms. This can vastly improve your efficiency and just how you go about teaching any subject.
Excellent Teaching Resources For Technology Subjects
Some of the best technology associations will offer resources to help teach technology. While this is not a substitute for teachers improving their own skills, it can help a lot. After all, technology is a very complicated topic.
Having resources can help in several different ways. First, it saves you the trouble of putting together lectures yourself. This way, you can focus on emphasizing core points and/or putting together more interactive resources.
Second, this gives you the chance to have self-pacing. So, the kids who are excelling can move forward, while the kids who are struggling can hang back and get extra help from teachers and others.
That being said, not any resource will do. Ideally, you should want two things from a technology teaching resource: quality and variety.
Quality is vital for a technology teaching resource, as the information needs to be accurate and consistent to be useable in a classroom setting. Variety is also important though – as offering students different ways to learn boost overall performance and engagement.
So, if this is a quality in technology associations that is important to you, be sure to review the quality of the resources too.
Community Connections & Updates
The whole point of joining an organization is to, you know, join a group of like-minded people. Thus, you want to make sure any technology association you look at has these qualities in mind.
Now, like the others, this can manifest in a few different ways. On the one hand, the association simply might just provide community features like chat rooms, places to exchange resources, and more. The goal here would, of course, be to help you chat and connect with other teachers. This way, you can seek advice when you get stuck.
However, this might manifest in other ways. For example, maybe the association runs in-person workshops or seminars to attend to help everyone improve their professional development together. Or, maybe, they provide bulletins to everyone to update them on new curriculum or technology changes.
In either case, community should be at the heart of these organizations.
Encouragement to Get Involved
Last but not least, you’re going to want an organization that wants you to get involved. Certainly, teachers are strapped for time. But, do you really want an organization that doesn’t take in teacher feedback at all and cuts you out of the process?
If a technology association is encouraging you to help them out with things – such as evaluating potential resources for the group – the more the association cares about what you think. A technology association for teachers should also be partly by teachers – even if in a small way. This ensures it is always relevant to you and your needs.
What Are The Best Technology Associations For Teachers?
We’ve talked about the desired qualities, but now it’s time to get to what you actually came for: what are the best technology associations? Below, we’ve compiled a short list of our favorite ones, what they have to offer you, and more.
ISTE, or The International Society for Technology in Education, is a massive technology association based in Washington DC. Founded way back in 1979, this nonprofit has one mission: teaching teachers how to use technology smartly in education.
There are two major areas of focus for this organization. The first is simply to provide teachers with the resources they need to teach areas such as computational thinking, digital citizenship, and much more. To that effort, not only do they provide project ideas, articles, and free courses to teach these subjects, but useful material that elaborates on how to teach these subjects.
The other area where the organization focuses on is professional development. As part of their professional development area, they offer tons of different materials – from books to podcasts. They also offer ISTE Certification which is recognized fairly worldwide to prove teachers have the educational skill they need to teach ISTE-based subjects.
Likewise, ISTE also holds numerous EdTech events, including their popular ISTELive conference which receives over 24,000 attendees each year.
Lastly, it is worth noting ISTE also provides a curriculum framework called ISTE Standards – which is a popular and recognized framework in manner areas for ensuring education content teachers kids the skills they need.
The Design and Technology Teachers Association of Australia (i.e. DATTA Australia) is an Australian-focused technology association that supports individual educators and territories as a whole in teaching both design and technology.
A huge drive for them is the fact that Australia is facing a tech teacher shortage in the near future. In order to combat this, their primary focus leans towards engaging teachers a lot more to take up the field. While they themselves don’t provide many professional development resources, they do provide frameworks and guides for finding the means to do so.
Likewise, they also provide a big collection of articles that teachers can read to keep up not only with technology trends, but explore ways to engage their students.
This being said, DATTA Australia has two important other aspects that make it notable. The first is that they hold conferences throughout Australia regularly. This not only helps keep teachers up-to-date on teaching design and technology, but allows teachers to connect and encourage one another.
The other notable aspect of DATTA Australia is its Design & Technologies Week, which is a national effort to get students, teachers, parents, and similar more engaged with design and technology education. Teachers are encouraged to use the provided resources to get kids involved with related projects – and then have students show their efforts off.
The ITEEA (International Technology and Engineering Educators Association) is an organization with a huge focus on STEM. Like the ISTE, they are based in the U.S. but have a worldwide reach with the programs they offer.
In the case of this organization, their main aim is to create a strong community and resource area for teachers to better enable them to teach STEM subjects.
In terms of professional development, ITEEA helps teachers connect with a lot of different ways to improve their skills. This includes in-person classes, workshops, seminars, and even scholarship programs should teachers want to enroll in various education classes. Likewise, they provide a good set of material that explains certain hard-to-understand STEM topics – such as computational thinking.
Arguably, though, ITEEA’s bigger focus is community. To that end, ITEEA hosts tons of different conferences in many areas. They also fairly regularly provide updates and literature related to STEM so teachers can stay up-to-date on the topic. Lastly, though, and rather unique, ITEEA provides specific networking opportunities like forums for teachers to exchange ideas.
It is worth noting that in part of their efforts to improve STEM education, they also help promote the Integrative STEM Curriculum Model to provide a standard curriculums must adhere to in order to meet specific learning objectives.
Much smaller than some of the others on this list, the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (ACCE) organization is a nonprofit founded back in 1981.
ACCE’s main focus centers around simply improving the information available to educators. This comes in a few different forms.
First, ACCE helps teachers find tons of publications related to information technology. This includes access to different journals about technology and tech education, ebooks, dissertations, and much more. It is through this that ACCE hopes teachers can stay informed about the practicality of technology in many different ways.
ACCE also helps encourage teachers through their annual conference where they talk EdTech and help teachers find growth opportunities. Alongside this, ACCE also issues awards fairly regularly to help show recognition to the teachers who are excelling in this area.
Lastly, ACCE also offers a career center to help connect tech teachers with the jobs of “tomorrow.”
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is a technology association not just for educators, but one for technology professionals and government employees. Their aim here is simple: to improve the entire Australian country’s digital skills. Of course, educators are a big part of this since they’re training the next generation.
ACS has what is arguably a four-prong attack when it comes to the education sector. The first prong focuses on helping teachers, technology professionals, and more all connect with each other In this way, organizations work together with the common goal in mind of improving digital skills.
The second prong focuses on, of course, professional development. This includes ensuring teachers have access to professional development classes related to technology, and also recognizing those teachers who can be a beacon to others.
A third prong in this attack is making sure educators also have resources for their students. This includes things like course content developed by industry professionals – that also helpfully align to the Digital Technologies curriculum standards.
Lastly, ACS puts a big emphasis on keeping teachers up-to-date. They boast over 200 events across Australia on technology trends and similar. ACS also provides various reports and publications so teachers can keep an eye on where things are headed in the sector in general.
TCEA, or the Texas Computer Education Association, is another nonprofit based in the United States. However, like the others on this list, TCEA has reached a global standing in terms of associations for technology teachers.
Unlike a few others that split their focus, TCEA is solely focused on educators. Likewise, they offer a ton of means for teachers to prepare to teach technology in the classroom.
Of course, they offer a plethora of conferences, workshops, and similar to help teachers improve their skills while networking at the same time. They also offer some competitions as well to help teachers get students involved.
Where TCEA really shines though is its professional development. TCEA offers a bunch of self-paced courses that teach teachers how to effectively teach certain STEM topics, like math, in the classroom.
However, TCEA also offers courses on using technology in the classroom. These include things like how to use learning management systems to improve efficiency, how to integrate Google’s free, online programs, how to teach in remote learning environment, and so forth.
A Final Last Note: Where Else to Find Resources and Professional Development?
Before we end, maybe after all this you’ve decided a technology association is not for you. Joining a technology association is definitely a commitment, after all. However, what if you still need classroom resources or professional development opportunities?
Zenva Schools isn’t a technology association – but holds many of the same values as one. This makes it a great alternative, or even a great system to pair with your technology association resources. It has a few key features that allow teachers to excel on the platform.
First, it has excellent professional development options. Educators are offered full access to all the courses on the platform, so they can upskill with the same courses their students will be learning.
Likewise, and second, Zenva Schools offers a ton of tech-based courses focusing on areas like Python, web development, game development, and more. Each course comes with a variety of different ways to learn as well, such as video lessons, text-based summaries, downloadable course files, interactive lessons, and quizzes.
Alongside the courses, Zenva Schools also provides pre-mapped lesson plans that fit both Australian and US curricula standards.
As part of the platform, Zenva Schools also provides easy-to-use classroom management tools and reporting to track student progress.
So, all in all, it’s not just great for teachers, but for students as well.
Which Is The Best Technology Association For Teachers?
There are a lot of technology associations out there – even more than we named here. And, ultimately, the best is going to depend on a lot of factors. This includes your personal location, your budget, and your specific needs as an educator (and that’s just to name a few).
However, technology associations can offer a lot of benefits. You also don’t have to rely on the association for everything. Other platforms like Zenva Schools make great additions to ensure you get the best of both worlds.
So, don’t shy away from looking into it – though we’ve hoped we’ve made the decision process here easier.
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