Technology Competencies for Educators

For most of us, we have learned the basics of many elements of using computer technology. But there's always some feature or element that we have not thought about for which a quick Internet search will turn up tutorials and solutions. Use the headings below to remind yourself of things that it might be time to review.

Table of Contents of the Competencies

I. Basic Technology Competencies
  1. Computer Operations
  2. Setup Maintenance, Security and Troubleshooting
  3. Word Processing/Introductory Desktop Publishing
  4. Spreadsheet/Graphing
  5. Database
  6. Networking
  7. Telecommunications
  8. Media Communications (including Image and Audio Processing)
  9. Multimedia Integration

The Basic Competencies

Below are basic Technology Competencies that support and enhance professional productivity, information access/ collaboration, and communication among educators and students.

1.0 Computer Operation Skills

The Computer Operations competency calls for knowledge of how to use computers and computer software. Students must demonstrate how to navigate through software applications using windows and icons. Students must know how to use storage devices including hard disks, floppy disks, CD-ROM's. Students must also be knowledgable of the most common computer terms.

  • General tutorial covering wide range of beginning user skills, "Introduction to Personal Computers" (

Demonstrate these skills:
1.1 Start up and shut down computer system and peripherals
a. Use correct startup/shut down procedures according to computer type 
  • To start up, find the power on button located somewhere around the edge or back of the computer. To shut down in emergencies, hold down the power on button until the screen goes black. This is a "last choice" option for shut-down as this prevents the operating system from saving any unsaved data remaining computer memory.
  • Mac: To shut down properly, click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen and choose sleep, shut down or restart. There are also keyboard shortcuts (video) that do not require using the mouse for each these options. Another quick option to shut down is to hold down the button left and top right keys, whic puts an option box on the screen asking whether to proceed.
  • Win: To shut down properly, click in the lower left of the screen on Start Up and look for shut down options. There are also keyboard shortcuts (video).
  • Linux: Benchmark comparison of the shutdown times of XP, Vista and Linux (video). Linux is the faster and significantly faster then Vista.
b. Start up and shut down printer
  • Location of the power switch varies with each model; see lab assistant or owner's manual.
  • Every printer has a printer driver application for a given OS (operating system) that enables a computer to find and send data to the printer. If the correct printer does not appear when selecting an application's print command, use the Control Panel (Win) or System Preferences (Mac) to find the Printer icon to add the needed printer.
c. Start up and shut down DVD & CD media
  • Most computers have automatic internal drives in computers for DVD & CD media. To start up, insert the DVD or CD in the computer's media tray or slot and the drive starts. Procedures will vary slightly with the operating system and model of computer.
  • To end use of the media, quit any application activated on from the device. Then, drag the media icon towards the Trash Can which will become an Eject symbol. Drag the icon on top of the icon and the media will pop out of the drive.
  • If the resource or application for the device do not appear automatically, go looking for its symbol.
      • Mac
    • An icon will appear on the desktop for the DVD or CD; double click on the desktop icon to open its window and look for the primary application.
      • Win
    • An icon will appear within the My Computer window; double click on My Computer; double click on the icon to open its window and look for the primary application.
d. Start up and shut down scanner
  • Find the power switch on the scanner to turn on before the scanner's computer is turned on, otherwise restart the computer. Make sure the scanner is connected via the USB port. Find and start up the computer's scanner application. Use the same power switch to turn off.
1.2 Identify and use icons, windows, menus 
  • Icons - graphic symbols that activate different commands. What happens when double clicked or right clicked depends on the icon. Common ones include: files and folders (double left click to see contents; right click to see menu); applications (double-left click to start up application; right click to see menu)
  • Windows - display frames for the information from different applications and folders.
  • Menus - lists of commands that appear when a single command word is clicked in the menu bar at the top of the application, generally dropping down from the top of the screen.
  • Move the cursor with the mouse (video, 1:38)
  • Use the scroll bar (video, 0:54)
  • Point, click, click and drag with mouse
    • Multiple repetitions of point, click and drag including how to move the mouse around physical objects on the desktop without letting go of the selected icon: video (3:18)
    • A 2 1/2 year old learns to point, click and drag (video, 1:47)
  • Double-click. Move the mouse pointer on top of a screen icon and press the left mouse button twice quickly to follow the commands for a given icon
  • Right click. Move the cursor on top of an icon or link within a Web page and click. This brings up a menu of short-cuts relevant to that icon or link.
  • Scroll wheel. Use the scroll when on top of selected mice to scroll information up and down in a window.

Control windows, e.g.:

  • Windows - minimize-restore, maximize, close a computer screen window ( video 1:38)
  • Mac - minimize-restore, maximize, close a computer screen window (video, 1:38)
  • Hide and reveal using the Macintosh OS (Click: the Finder icon in upper right screen corner and select  application; select Hide and all open windows for that application will disappear but be kept in computer memory; reselecting from the Finder icon will cause all windows to reappear.) 
  • Open, Move, Resize, Scroll within and Close a Window
  • Change the View in a Window of files, folders and applications
  • c. Use pull-down and expanded pull-down menus
    • Expanded pull-down menus show justs the most frequently used commands of the full pull-down menus. A graphic symbol such as >> at the end of the short list indicates that further commands are available with a click.
    d. Select, open, and move an icon
    e. Select, open, move, and close a window
    f. Resize a window and tile/stack windows
    g. Scroll up/down, left/right within a window
    h. Make windows active/inactive

    Start a system feature or an application and create a document

    • Win: Use the Start Menu on Windows XP, Vista or 7 to launch apps and the Taskbar to track apps in use (video, 1:00)
    • Mac: Use the Dock to manage both starting key applications and tracking those in use (video, 3:33)
    1.4 Name, save, revise files
    a. Name a document
    b. Save a document using both the Save and Save As Commands [ Mac/Win text and video 1.4b
    c. Retrieve a document from an external drive  [ Methods for finding files ]
    d. Retrieve a document from hard drive    [ Methods for finding files same as above]
    e. Rename a document
    f. Edit and re-save a document 
    1.5 Use printing options [ Mac/Win text and video 1.5 ]
    1.6 Insert and eject floppy disk [ Mac/Win text and video 1.6] and CD-ROM
    1.7 Initialize/format  [ Mac text and video 1.7 ] [ Win text and video 1.7 ], name/rename floppy disk [[ Mac/Win text and video 1.7 ]] and hard disk
    1.8 Copy document from hard disk to floppy disk and vice versa
    1.9 Create and name/rename subdirectories/folders [ Mac folders video  ; Win folders video ]
    1.10 Save, open, place documents inside subdirectories/folders
    1.11 Open and work with more than one application at a time. Apple Tab or Alt Tab
    1.12 Use special operating features for people with disabilities

    (One of the simplest and frequently used is the capacity to change font size for those with poorer vision. More sophisticated use requires special knowledge of  .)

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:

    Understand terms such as graphical user interface, document, application, K (kilobyte), hierarchical file system, directory, operation system, system software, RAM [desktop [ Macintosh-J ]

    • Terms defined: PC, Operating System, software, hardware, desktop, icons, modem, browser, IP address or IP#, URL (video, 2:15)
    1.14 Storage capacity of floppy, hard disks, and CD-ROMs [ text and video 1.6 ]
    1.15 Similarities/differences and advantages/disadvantages of various operating systems 
    1.16 Make more memory available 

       (The best solution is to buy and install more RAM chips; but there are other short-term approaches: Windows automatically claims hard drive space (virtual memory) to extend RAM chip space if chip RAM is insufficient;  Mac systems can force higher speed operations by turning virtual memory off as well as change allocation for RAM by using the Get Info command after clicking on an application icon.)

    1.17 Install/reinstall and update system software and printer drivers

    (CDs that ship with the computer provide commands that will install system software as well as erase it so that you can start over if the OS has become corrupted by a virus or application conflicts.)

    1.18 Exchange disks and files among Macintosh, MS-DOS/Windows and Apple II computers 

    2. Setup, Maintenance, and Troubleshooting

    Setup a computer system with a monitor, keyboard, mouse, external drive, printer, CD-ROM, modem and scanner. Install and upgrade software on a computer work station. Understand how to protect computer components and peripherals from the environment and from malicious computer viruses. Make back-up copies of important documents and application software. Use self-help resources and local technical assistance to diagnose problems.

    Demonstrate these skills:
    2.1 Set up computer system and connect peripheral devices 
    a. Setup computer system (i.e., CPU, monitor, keyboard, mouse)
    b. Connect peripheral devices (i.e., printers, DVDs/CDs, external drives, modems, scanner)
    2.2 protect and care for external drives 
    2.3 clean computer components and printer 
    2.4 make backup copies of key applications and documents 
    2.5 use self-help resources to diagnose and correct common hardware/printing problems 
    2.6 install and upgrade an application 

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    2.7 proper operating environment for computer and peripherals
    2.8 protection against computer viruses
    2.9 technical assistance resources available at local level

    3. Word Processing/Introductory Desktop Publishing

    Know how to use text and graphics in a word processing software application. Create a document, copy and move blocks of text, and edit the document. Change the style of text and check for spelling errors. Know how to include a header, footer, and insert the date and time into a document. Separate text into columns and add clip art. Be aware of the most common word processing and desktop publishing terms.

    Demonstrate these skills:
    3.1 enter and edit text and copy and cut (move) a block of text
    a. Clipboard (a special location in the computer's memory that temporarily holds information)
    b. Cut (a function that removes highlighted (selected) information from its current location and places it on the clipboard) [Macintosh-C]
    c. Copy (a function that duplicates highlighted (selected) information and places a copy on the clipboard) [Macintosh-C]
    d. Paste (a function that copies information from the clipboard to a document; see a. and b. above for examples)
    e. Delete text (using the mouse, highlight text to be deleted, begin typing the new text which automatically deletes the old text) [Macintosh-C]
    f. Insert text (using the mouse, place the I-beam cursor at the location where the new text is to be placed, click the mouse button, and begin typing the new text) [Macintosh-C]
    3.2 copy and move blocks of text [Macintosh-C]
    3.3 change text format and style, set margins, line spacing, tabs
    a. Sizing font, (change actual size of text) [Macintosh-C]
    b. Style (choose type and special effects such as bold, italic, or underline) [Macintosh-C]
    c. Margins (amount of white space on the top, bottom, left and right edges of page) [Macintosh-C]
    d. Set margins (change defaults) [Macintosh-C]
    e. Line spacing (amount of space between lines in a paragraph such as single space, space and a half, and double space) [Macintosh-C]
    f. Tab stops (align/justify to left, right, center, decimal tab) [Macintosh-C] [Note. Table commands and spreadsheets have eliminated much of the need for Tab features. Consider these newer approaches.]
    g. Tabbing (used to position text within a line or to create tables of data) [Macintosh-C] [Note. Table commands [Macintosh-C]and spreadsheets have eliminated much of the need for Tab features. Consider these newer approaches.]
    3.4 check spelling, grammar, word usage
    a. Spell checker [Macintosh-C]
    b. Thesaurus [Macintosh-C]
    c. Dictionary, outlining [Macintosh-C], grammar checker, word count [Macintosh-C] as applicable
    3.5create a header or footer [Macintosh-C]3.6insert date, time [Macintosh-C], page number [Macintosh-C]3.7add columns to document [Macintosh-C]3.8insert clip art into document [Macintosh-C]
    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:

    3.9terms such as cursor, format, font, style, header, footer, spelling checker [Macintosh-C]

    4. Spreadsheet/Graphing

    Demonstrate these skills:
    4.1 interpret and communicate information in an existing spreadsheet
    1. Understand the concept of a spreadsheet and relate a print spreadsheet to an electronic spreadsheet 
    2. Understand the possibilities of spreadsheet calculations 
    3. Given a spreadsheet, interpret the information and communicate the data in a graphical format
    4.2 enter data in an existing spreadsheet
    1. Enter Data into a cell 
    2. Use the entry bar 
    3. Print a spreadsheet 
    4. Manipulate data to solve a problem
    4.3 create a spreadsheet with rows, columns, headings
    4.4 create /copy formulas and functions to perform calculations
    1. Understand the three basic types of cells (label,value, and formula) 
      1. Format a cell or range of cells for the following: currency, date, time, percentage, fixed decimal 
      2. Protect a cell or range of cells 
      3. Create spreadsheet with labels and values 
      4. Create a formula using a formula indicator symbol, cell references, and operations symbols (+-*/) 
      5. Understand order of operations as it relates to writing a spreadsheet formula (PEMDAS) 
    2. Create a formula using functions 
      1. Be aware of other functions available 
      2. Be aware of look up tables and their use 
    3. Copy values using fill down and fill across 
      1. Copy formulas using fill down and fill across 
      2. Be aware of relative and absolute value as it relates to copying formulas 
    4. Change the appearance of a spreadsheet by inserting columns and rows 
      1. Change the appearance of a spreadsheet using column width and row height 
      2. Change the appearance of a spreadsheet using gridlines, headers, and footers 
      3. Change the appearance of a spreadsheet using text features for label cells 
      4. Change the appearance of a spreadsheet using hiding and freezing/splitting 
    4.5 create a graph from spreadsheet data
    1. Know the three basic types of graphs (bar, pie, line) and their uses 
    2. Using a previously created graph, select a range of data and choose the appropriate graph 
    3. Change and refine a graphís appearance to include headers, legend, labels, series, axes, color, etc.) 
    4. Print a refined graph
    4.6 insert spreadsheet into word processing document
    1. Open a word processing document and insert an existing spreadsheet into the document 
    2. Print a word processing document with an inserted spreadsheet 
    3. Insert a pre-existing graph into a word processing document 
    4. Insert headers and footers

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application
    4.7 terms such as spreadsheet, cell, data entry bar, formula, function

    5. Database

    Demonstrate these skills
    5.1 use information from an existing database
    1. Describe the difference between a print database and a computer database 
    2. Use a prepared database to enter data 
    3. Add a record to an existing database 
    4. Delete a record from an existing database 
    5. Search a database for specific information
    5.2 sort a database by specific fields add and delete records
    1. Use a database to sort records 
    2. Use a database to search for desired information given 1 criterion 
    3. Use a database to search for desired information given 2 criteria 
    4. Use sorting and searching techniques to solve a problem
    5.3 create database with multiple fields and records
    1. Create a database with multiple fields 
    2. Create database with multiple fields and varying field sizes 
    3. Create a database with multiple records
    5.4 create custom layouts including columnar reports
    1. Create a database layout/report utilizing various word processing skills 
    2. Create a database layout/report with headers and footers 
    3. Create a database layout to match an existing form 
    4. Create a database report with calculated summaries 
    5. Print a database 
      1. Print individualized records and/or forms 
      2. Print a database list/mulitple records 
      3. Print a customized database report 
    5.5 insert database fields into word processing document
    1. Create a word processing document with inserted database fields 
    2. Print a merged word processing/database document

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    5.6 terms such as database, field, record, layout, sort/arrange, search/select/filter, mail merge

    6. Networking

    Demonstrate these skills:
    6.1 use a file server (connect/log on, retrieve a program or document, save a document to a specified location) [Macintosh-C]
    6.2 share files with others on a network

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    6.3 terms such as local area network, wide area network, access rights, security passwords, file server, zone

    Demonstrate these skills:
    6.4 select/deselect a network zone

    7. Telecommunications

    Demonstrate these skills( essential):
    7.1 connect to the Internet or an on-line service
    1. Check physical connections before attempting log on - Check that all telecomputing hardware is turned on and check cable connections 
    2. Locate and use connection software (configuration & client) 
    3. Connect to Internet via an Internet Service Provider (ISP) with a user ID and password 
    4. Be aware of commercial providers and their service
    7.2 use electronic mail (compose, send, retrieve, read, respond)
    1. Compare the process of sending and receiving messages electronically vs non-electronically 
    2. Compose new e-mail (address and subject; explanation of address domains) 
    3. Send e-mail (concepts of carbon copy (cc) and blind carbon copy (bcc)) 
    4. Retrieve and read e-mail 
    5. Reply to sender and forward e-mail 
    6. Save, print, and delete e-mail
    7.3 access and use resources on Internet and World Wide Web
    1. Identify computers as tools for accessing current information (concept of Internet as a large network and database) 
    2. Use browser software (concepts: hypertext, html, homepage) 
    3. Access a specific web site by entering the appropriate URL (concept of URL, http, web site) 
    4. Find a search engine site and perform a specific web search (list of search engines and purposes) 
    5. Knowledge and use of filters (software driven, server based, search engine inclusive)

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    7.4 terms such as telecommunications, direct access, dial-in access, modem, baud rate, Internet, World Wide Web
    7.5 obtain/maintain an account on the Internet or an on-line service that provides Internet access
    1. Knowledge of local accounts and access 
    2. Knowledge of commercial accounts and access
    7.6 online conferences relevant to professional information needs
    1. Be aware of on-line conference relevant to professional information
    7.7 use of telnet to connect to a remote computer on the Internet
    1. Connect to county or university library 

    Demonstrate these skills (expanded):
    7.8 connect a computer to a modem and telephone line for dial
    7.9 install and configure telecommunications software
    7.10 upload a text file and send as electronic mail
    7.11 use specialized e-mail lists relevant to professional information needs
    7.12 create and use group addresses for electronic mail
    7.13 read, save, print, reply to, forward electronic mail
    7.14 use Gopher to browse resources on the Internet
    7.15 use ftp to send or retrieve files from remote computers
    7.16 use effectively: distance learning, desktop video conferencing and tele-teaching technologies

    8. Media Communications (including Image and Audio Processing)

    Demonstrate these skills:
    8.1 produce print-based products (e g., newsletters, brochures, posters, books)
    1. Layout 
      1. Specify multiple-columns 
      2. Set up horizontal & vertical guides 
      3. Use column guides & rulers (position zero, lock/unlock guides, reposition rulers, equal/unequal columns) 
      4. Create Master Page (display and hide elements) 
    2. Text 
      1. Create, place, format, & position text (create drop caps, apply shading, rotating text, auto flow/reflow text, manual flow text, auto page number, custom text wrap) 
      2. Rotate text 
      3. Create banner text 
      4. Create Table of Contents, Index 
      5. Create & apply styles 
      6. Format tabs & indents 
    3. Graphics 
      1. Resize and position objects, proportionally scale objects 
      2. Create, place, format, & position graphics elements (draw and position objects, group, ungroup objects, shade, color) 
    8.2 produce electronic slides/overheads
    1. Ensure good design features 
    2. Select template 
    3. Outline presentation 
      1. Create basic outline 
      2. Use Tools to modify/rearrange 
    4. Slides 
      1. Define/edit color scheme 
      2. Position & format text 
      3. Insert graphics, sound, and/or video 
      4. Organize slides for slide show 
      5. Insert appropriate transitions 
      6. Run and/or edit slide show 
    8.3 set up and operate a videocassette recorder/player and monitor/TV
    8.4 connect a video output device (e.g., LCD panel) to computer or large screen display

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    8.5 terms such as painting tool, drawing tool, compression
    8.6 role of media in effective communication
    8.7 characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of different media
    8.8 consumer issues, including identification/evaluation of available media communication resources

    Demonstrate these skills: (expanded):
    8.9 use painting and drawing tools
    8.10 use digital camera and scanner
    8.11 use camcorder and edit video from a camcorder
    8.12 produce a video
    8.13 set up and operate a videodisc player and TV receiver or monitor

    9. Multimedia Integration

    Demonstrate these skills:
    9.1 Use a linear multimedia presentation. Click within the examples: Shockwave/Flash Animation ; Shockwave music video; GIF animations; narrated slideshow in Powerpoint/sofTV; narrated slideshow using Powerpoint.
    9.2 Use a non-linear hypermedia presentation. Click within the example: Kartoo Search Engine (e.g., type in ants); the  web site; amost every web site.

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    9.3 terms such as media, multimedia, hypermedia, clip art or clip media

    Demonstrate these skills: (expanded)
    9.4 plan/produce a linear multimedia presentation
    9.5 plan/produce a non-linear, hypermedia presentation
    9.6 use a file compression utility
    9.7 input and digitize sound from microphone and audio cassette player/recorder
    9.8 create simple animations

    II. NC Technology Competencies -Advanced


    10.0 Curriculum


    Demonstrate these skills:

    10.1 Use the NC Computer Skills Curriculum to identify what students should know and be able to do.
    10.2 Use school television resources that support the curriculum.
    10.3 Access resources for planning instruction available via telecommunications (e.g., experts, lesson plans, authentic data, curriculum materials).

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    10.4 Review the Goals of the NC Computer Skills Curriculum.
    10.5 Complete the NC Computer Skills Assessment.


    Demonstrate these skills:

    10.6 Locate, evaluate, and select appropriate teaching/learning resources and curriculum materials for the content area and target audience, including computer-based products, videotapes and discs, local experts, primary documents and artifacts, texts, reference books, literature, and other print sources.

    11.0 Subject-Specific Knowledge


    Demonstrate these skills:

    11.1 Use technology in the discipline/subject for learning and as a medium for communication.
    11.2 Use media and technology to present the subject so that it is comprehensible to others.
    11.3 Use technology-based tools that are specific to the discipline.
    11.4 Use technology to facilitate teaching strategies specific to the discipline.

    12.0 Design and Management of Learning Environments/Resources


    Demonstrate these skills:

    12.1 Develop performance tasks that require students to (a) locate and analyze information as well as draw conclusions and (b) use a variety of media to communicate results clearly.
    12.2 Use computers and other technologies effectively and appropriately to collect information on student learning using a variety of methods.
    12.3 Use computers and other technologies effectively and appropriately to communicate information in a variety of formats on student learning to colleagues, parents and others.

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    12.4 Physical settings that support active student involvement, inquiry, and collaboration;
    12.5 organizational and management strategies that support active student involvement, inquiry, and collaboration;
    12.6 resources available including satellite, cable wireless and ITFS (Instructional Television Fixed Service).


    Demonstrate these skills:

    12.7 Select and create learning experiences that are appropriate for curriculum goals, relevant to learners, based upon principles of effective teaching and learning, incorporate the use of media and technology for teaching where appropriate, and support learner expression in a variety of media using a variety of media communication tools.

    13.0 Child Development, Learning, and Diversity 

    Demonstrate these skills:

    13.1 Use media and technology to address differences in children's learning and performance.
    13.2 Use media and technology to support learning for children with special needs.
    13.3 Use media and technology to support learning for children whose primary language is not English.
    13.4 Use appropriate local, state and national services or resources to meet diverse learning needs through technology.

    14.0. Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues 

    Demonstrate these skills:
    14.1 Establish classroom policies and procedures that ensure compliance with copyright law, fair-use guidelines, security and child protection.
    14.2 Ensure equal access to media and technology resources for all students.

    Demonstrate knowledge through practical application:
    14.3 Understand social, legal, and ethical issues related to technology use.

    Updated January 10, 2010  |  Page Author: Houghton