Make this your most digital year yet!

Paul Wright

Paul Wright is innovation lead at Aureus School in Oxfordshire and founder of TIPS4TEACHING. He is the author of Teach, Reflect, Doodle…, which was published by Bloomsbury, and hosts the tips4teaching podcast.

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Image credit: Flickr // student_tech Image credit: Flickr // student_tech

Digital literacy: I’m sure you’ve been told this is important for students in the 21st Century. But did anyone mention it’s also important for teachers too? Believe me, it is! Digital literacy is about digital skills, skills which help you use tech, create with tech and be safe using tech. So obviously as students increase in their use of technology we have to support them in how to use it wisely, correctly and safely. The same applies to teachers.

Below are some ideas to help you embrace digital literacy throughout the school year. I’m going to group them under two categories ‘Create With’ and ‘Use and Be Safe’. I’ll explain with examples what it means to teachers and what's available to help you.

 1. Create With

I’m sure you know plenty about Microsoft Office. You’ve been using it all your career no doubt, but what about other creative tools which you could be using to support your work and your teaching? Keeping up-to-date and knowing where to go to find out about these is part of the ‘create with’ aspect of a teacher’s digital literacy.

As a digitally literate teacher, you’d be expected to know a range of online and offline technology which you could utilise to improve/support you teaching. One example would be using online software like Prezi occasionally, instead of PowerPoint, to present information to students and engage them in a topic.

Here are three great places to go to keep you up-to-date on tech for the classroom:

  1. 1.
  2. 2.
  3. 3.

Tech resources you can use to enhance learning

  1. 1. PowerPoint - Yeah, it’s a classic, but don’t write it off. Look a neat tricks like inserting online videos into slides as a way of enhancing your presentations. Insert a countdown timer video from YouTube next to a challenge activity and see how this impacts engagement and progress in a lesson. Check out EmergingEdtech to see how you can expand your PowerPoint skills.
  2. 2. Prezi - Prezi has been around for about 10 years, and it’s still not as widely known as you may expect. It’s a great alternative to PowerPoint, and it’s all online with the option to download presentations which will run in any browser. I have used these for presentations to staff, at conferences, and with learners! A great tool to try out!
  3. 3. Wikis/shared web pages - Whether you have access to Google (and Google Apps) in your school or not, you can find setting up a collaborative wiki page for your class, course or form a great way to encourage learners to share their knowledge on a topic. With my A Level students I posed a question on each page of the site, for example: “How do networked computers communicate?” The learners updated the pages themselves based on their own classwork, reading and research. The outcome was a self-curated space perfect for revision when exam season came around! Try it yourself!

2. Use and be safe

Using technology safely plays a huge part of the school curriculum from Primary up into Secondary. But it’s equally as important for teachers to know how to use technology safely as it is our learners.

Sharing things online is fantastic, and the benefits of a teachers using Social Media to improve their pedagogy can be enormous. I encourage it!

Think before you post

Ask yourself a few key questions before you set up and post to a social media platform.

      1. 1.  What am I sharing about myself?
      2. 2.  What do I want to learn/understand from using this?
      3. 3.  How do I appear to people online?

Some years ago didn’t get a job because I didn’t have an online digital footprint (this was 2008), and it was a job I really wanted! I learned from the experience and began to explore how I could create an online version of myself which showcased ‘the best’ of my work in education. I then set up a blog ( and a Twitter account (@tips4teachingUK).

It’s important to project the best you online. Many schools run basic background and online checks on staff now, and having a positive online profile gives you an extra ‘showcase’ alongside any application forms you send off.

My tips for setting up a Twitter account

Don’t use a handle like @PARTYteacher (sorry if you exist) - it won't make you look professional! Stick with something like @Mr/Miss_SMART. Then fill in your bio - a couple of things about who you are and what you teach.


Whether you implement these actions at the beginning of the school year or later on, support yourself to become more digitally literate. Don’t think you know it all now and are happy to repeat the same things. Look at blogs and social media to help inspire some digital creativity, but always think before you act! This year, be as safe online as you’d want your students to be!


Are you creative and safe with digital platforms? Let us know below.


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