Most of my first interactions with technology and education were from highschool. At that time, I remember being quite proud to be a student from my high school which had a considerable amount of digital devices. My school used TVs to display the time, current news and school events. Classrooms all had equipped projectors and computers for use. At that time, our school was considered the new top school in the district, but as time when by, I noticed that our “current advances” were not that uncommon anymore. By Summertime, all the nearby schools had similar setups. That was when I started to realize that the world runs at a faster pace than I previously thought.
The first time I used some form of technology to teach wasn’t for another few years. When I was in University, I had the chance to teach peers as TechBytes Mentor, I taught my peers how to use programs that were commonly used in our Interactive Arts program that was hard to learn. By then, having technology in classrooms was a norm, and it was now a competition as to which classrooms had the more advanced gears. But it wasn’t for another few years that I got to teach Math or Science using technologies, in a classroom. It was during my teaching practicum in Ontario. At that time, K-12 classrooms were equipped with Smartboards and so teachers had to learn how to use the boards. Because I already had some exposure to the boards in University, I didn’t have as much trouble adjusting and learning the system. But I noticed many of the older staff, though had lots of teaching experience, struggled with using the technology to fulfill their needs. It became a situation where it wasn’t the technology helping the teacher teach more effectively, but that the teacher adapting to what functions they know on the boards to teach a bit of what they want.
I know what I mentioned isn’t new, and is a problem we all see, but I wonder how everyone approached this type of problem when it’s faster to only use a few functions of a technology to teach, rather than spend more time learning first.
My first strong memory of working with the internet was the ICQ messenger I used as a teen. Previously, I had been on various message boards which explored my interests, but it was ICQ which I have the most fond memories of.
ICQ was a personal messenger where you could add friends to personally chat with. The old days of dial-up internet meant that chatting with someone may require some scheduling. The reason why the memory of ICQ is so vivid for me was the breadth of who you could connect with. I would make friends from Russia, Georgia, Australia to name a few. To talk to and learn about the lives of other teenagers living across the world really interested me. My family did not have money to travel overseas so this experience really enlightened me to how people in the rest of the world operated.
Today it seems silly that such a rudimentary connection to other people in this world was so awe-inspiring but at the time it was such an amazing experience.
In 1999, I was teaching a Grade 10 math class, only a few years older than the students I was teaching. A challenge! Graphic calculators had just been introduced. To be able to actually SEE where a line crossed the x-axis instantaneously and to be able to understand the significance of that point on the line was an incredible tool in teaching quadratic equations. I know that I understood it in a way that I hadn’t when I been learning it originally. The teacher was learning right along with the students! This was probably my first exposure to the idea that it is Ok for teachers not to have all the answers when it comes to technology.
I’m 39 years old as of a couple days ago. One might think my exposure to technology would have come in late high school at the earliest but the truth is its been a part of my life since I can remember.
My father was a doctor but he was obsessed with computers as a hobby and the latest gadget was always in my home. We had the commodore 64, then apple 2E before switching to IBM We had an ISDN line (keep in mind nobody had these for private home use) when I was in Grade 11. We would strip computers and replace parts like it was a car. All fun memories indeed.
Over the years a lot has changed but I think the biggest thing with me is I had a unique upbringing in that we always rolled with the changes. It drove my mother nuts because my dad invested in a lot of stuff the quickly became obsolete and we have some computer junk in my old home that is archaic.
The point is I’ve always been up on technology and that made the changes in education easier for me. Education is a second career for me as I was, and still technically am, a pilot. In that field, I used all kinds of technology and loved it.
My first promotion in Education came as an educational technology coordinator. Essentially it came down to me being very ambitious and wanting to help others. This was seen as useful and it started me down the path toward administration.
Now, as a soon to be Principal, I look for teachers who are open to rolling with changes, offer input, keep an open mind, and use technology to add value to their lessons.
We are in a great time for educational technology and I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities.
I honestly can’t remember my earliest experiences with digital technology as I have always had a computer in my house/bedroom and various forms of palm-pilots/tablets/hand-held games. That being said though I can vividly remember my first experiences with educational technology – using Success Maker (math and reading) as well as All the Right Type in my elementary school classrooms. We actually had a class called “Computers” where we used these programs and when we were done the required work for the day we got to play Cross Country Canada (a trucking game where you had to pick up and drop of loads across Canada). Success Maker was great from providing students with instant feedback on their understanding and giving variety from the mundane, everyday worksheets, All the Right Type had the largest impact on my life. I am so thankful to my teachers for forcing me to use this program for 4years and not letting me cheat. It has helped me tremendously through my undergraduate programs as well as in this program. I can’t imagine how much longer it would take me to do things if I didn’t know how to type properly.
I have always believed that technology, especially educational technologies, have had a place in our lives. That being said though, I find that many people use technology as a crutch or “inappropriately.” By that I mean that instead of learning to read a map and figure out where you are/are going, a vast majority of the population rely upon their GPS to tell them step by step how to get somewhere. People also rely heavily on calculators rather than mental math for basic math facts – many of my students don’t even know their 3 times tables. In my experience, I also find that parents use technology to parent their child for them; rather than teaching their child how to behave on interact with others, they just hand them the iPad to make them quiet and consequently, antisocial because of their addiction to their online games and apps. I would lump Success Maker into this category (somewhat) because it was used on occasion as a time filler or when the kids were too rambunctious to listen to a lesson.
While I love my technology and enjoy bringing it into my classroom, I am always hesitant to use it too much or in a way that doesn’t teach students to think critically (ie. PPT vs other presentation programs). I believe I have this struggle because of all the “miss-uses” of technology that I have seen and experienced.
My first experience with technology around education was writing a paper in my Bachelors using Microsoft Office 95. My major was Korean language and education so I had no idea about using computers back then. I started writing my paper in a blank word document and decided to save it to a floppy disk so that I can print the file at my school. Everything went great until my brother accidentally turned off the main power outlet. I was just devastated and almost cried since didn’t save the last 2 hours of work. I didn’t know about an AutoSave feature. Also, there was no YouTube to show how to recover MS word files back then. I was frustrated with the thought to starting the half of the paper again (there was AltaVista but no much-shared content on the Internet). However, I was so relieved to see the recovered file when started Word. I couldn’t thank you enough for Microsoft for the feature. It restored my faith in technology!
My very first experience with technology at school was when I was in Grade 4, at a school of about 200 students, and we received our first computers for student use. We were beyond thrilled, as the majority of us had never experienced computing at home, and therefore the opportunity to learn about computers at school opened up a whole new world for us. We had 2 computers for the whole school, and these were housed in a small room located off of the main office. Every student was paired up with a partner, and we received a grand total of 10 minutes on the computers each week. If you were away on your “computer day,” you were out of luck and had to wait until your name came up in the rotation again the following week. The only application that we worked with on that shockingly bright green and black screen was LOGO, but we were incredibly engaged with the opportunity to learn about basic programming and create shapes and designs using that triangular “turtle” on the screen.
Looking back on these experiences years later, I feel that two things continue to stand out for me as an educator. Firstly, the issue of access to technology continues to be an issue for many of our students, and this becomes especially challenging as we move our pedagogy in alignment with technology integration. How do we support students who lack opportunities to engage with technology outside of the classroom? The second issue that stands out for me is the importance that programming and coding have taken on within our schools. With LOGO being the forbear of many of our current programming and coding applications, the significance of these technology skills have never been more relevant. Long live the turtle!
When I was in Grade 5 my grandfather purchased my family our first home computer. I remember seeing this large piece of technology and thinking to myself, how exciting! However, I quickly realized that I did not speak the same language of this computer, and would quickly need to learn what MS-Dos was all about. One of the biggest challenges with this new technology was that there was no expert in my household or even in my school who was able to teach me how to capitalize on all of the features it held, and I didn’t know what questions to ask. When we started to buy different programs, such as Midnight Rescue a reading comprehension clue game, Reader Rabbit, Math Blaster or Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego games was I able to ‘do’ more with the computer. One thing that has always stayed with me is thinking about how far we have come since the day we unpacked that giant, desktop computer, today we open a box and out comes a laptop with graphics, sound, and wifi capabilities all set up and ready to go. In the early 90s you had a computer, and that was it unless you purchased the speakers separately. Today, I continue to realize that there are many different languages associated with computer technology, such as coding that I need to become more fluent with.
High school provided me with my first exposure to computers and digital technology. I remember having to take a computer science course and feeling completely overwhelmed. I had no real idea what the teacher was talking about. I was handed cards with holes in them and was asked to “run a loop”? I muddled through the course thanks to “Steve” a straight “A” student, who graciously arranged my cards for me and walked me through each painstaking assignment.
We have come a long way since then. The advances in today’s technology are having a significant impact on the landscape of teaching and learning. Coding and programming are good examples of subject areas that have evolved tremendously. Today, students as young as kindergarten are learning how to code in some schools. In addition, there are even large scale events e.g. Hour of Code, that are promoting not only the benefits but the necessity of this skill. I have read several sources that claim that programming skills are going to be one of the skills needed in tomorrow’s workforce. Along with that is the idea that many of the jobs that we are preparing students for do not even exist yet!
One of my earliest memories with technology involved learning to type with portable keyboards in elementary school. In the midst of learning to print and handwrite on paper, we were given smaller standalone keypads to interact with words on a digital display. We started finding letters on standard QWERTY keyboards, and progressed through spelling drills and contests for most words per minute. Reflecting on those moments reminds me to be continually amazed how far technology has come: Green screens have been replaced with color, small fonts with zooming functionality, tangible hardware to digital keyboards, etc. Some questions it raises for me however: while students learn to interact seamlessly with tablets (more naturally than parents can teach), is this generation losing out on the ability to actually write, legibly forming letters to communicate thoughts and shape memory?