My e-ography

Posted by: | January 8, 2009 | Comments Off on My e-ography

This is a crosspost from the ETEC 533 course site, in response to a question from the instructor:

Our first writing activity for the course will focus on our prior experiences with digital technology in educational settings. This initial writing is meant to help us recall our earliest memories with digital technology, become aware of our our perspectives, the assumptions that underlie these perspectives expectations regarding human-computer interactions, and the extent to which our perspectives prior experiences with computers are similar or different.

The first experience I can remember with educational technology beyond the level of a chalkboard and overhead projector was grade four.

Our school – a fairly poor elementary school in Burnaby – had acquired 5 or 6 computers – Macs, I think – and plunked one of them down on a desk at the back of my class.

I don’t remember using any actual educational software on the machine … have no recollection of a writing or reading program, or even a digital encylopedia or anything of the sort. The clearest memory I have was of writing short and embarrassingly simple programs in Basic – mostly consisting of telling the computer to print out something vaguely disestablishmentarian on the screen many hundreds of times, or telling the computer to draw a line from a certain X,Y coordinate to another.

Simple, but I still remember the joy I had a creator … the pride in creating conditions under which a machine did certain things for me …

Sadly, however, that machine never made it out of the back of the room, and in all reality was nothing more than a trinket, a curiousity, a sop to those who wanted desperately to begin embedding technology in the classroom (but had no clue how to begin).

The fascination with technology begun that year continued later on in my career, even after taking a BA in English and landing a writing job. Eventually I would move towards technology, run a web development department, and today am employed by a software development company.

And yet, the question remains: how to take that computer out of the back of the class, put it in the hands of each kid in a classroom, and design learning environments and tasks that make education something more than it was in 19th century England.

That’s the challenge, and that’s why I’m taking this course.


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