This past weekend was my 10-year reunion. I was excited for all of the moments of nostalgia. But one moment stuck out greater than all the rest.
|Outside the front doors of Tipton High School
(picture by classmate Lindsey Sears of
Lindsey Sears Photography)
We started our Saturday with a tour of the high school. Some things have changed, but as you may expect only being ten years out, some have not. However, one room struck a hard note with me. It was a computer lab.
The lab now has the newest iMacs, but that’s not what struck me. When I was in 6th grade, our teacher brought us to that very computer lab. For most of us, it was our first encounter with operating a computer without an adult sitting right next to us thinking we wouldn’t be able to operate such a sophisticated piece of technology without a high school or college degree (I laugh too).
She showed us how to turn them on, which seemed to take an eternity for a 6th grader. We were then instructed to open Netscape. That was the moment where we were introduced to what was called…the internet. I remember it vividly, even 16 years later as I stood in that lab once again.
After leaving the tour, I was still awed at how far the introduction of technology in education has come and how lucky I am to have been in the early stages of that movement.
After further reflection, here are some pieces of technology that I have seen (as a student and now as a teacher) make an impact for the better.
Obviously, this was huge. It’s how we changed the way we communicate forever. I remember getting my first Hotmail account when I was a Freshman in high school. It seemed very natural to click, type, and click again, and you have just communicated instantly with the receiver rather than waiting days for snail mail. Instant messaging soon followed allowing people to chat in real time.
Now I use email in our 1:1 to communicate with students. They turn in their assignments through email. I “CC” parents on emails if the student isn’t doing so well, or if the assignment was incomplete. As a teacher, this has made teaching and learning more of a true group effort.
Transparencies and Over-Head Projectors are now nothing more than fossils, evidence of something that once was. I first saw an LCD projector when I was in college. It was the “go-to” device for me when I first started teaching. However, I was merely projecting onto a screen or whiteboard.
This one may not seem as revolutionary, but when I first started college in 2002, the biggest choice I had to make was…laptop or desktop. Desktops seemed least likely to get stolen, so I found myself going with a desktop and carrying my writable CD (then came flash drives soon after) everywhere to save my information.
That internet that seemed incredible when I was in 6th grade, now got even better. It wasn’t until my Sophomore or Junior year when wireless routers became the mainstream. This allowed laptop users to become truly portable without tethering to a wall via ethernet. Now most school buildings and homes rely on wireless internet.
I remember my first experience with a SMARTboard as vividly as my first experience with the internet. It was my first year of teaching when I got my hands on one. I picked it up fairly quickly, and when I was done playing with it, teaching ideas bum-rushed my brain. Now, every classroom (K-12) in our rural Iowa school has one. Some say the SMARTboard is becoming obsolete due to rapid integration of 1:1, but I feel they still hold value…at least in my classroom.
Remember when I mentioned earlier how I was faced with a decision before heading to college – laptop or desktop? Well, two years ago our district was faced with a similar decision in regards to our 1:1 – laptops or iPads? I was iffy, but as soon as the iPad 2 came out, I was sold. I knew iPads would be the way to go. And now, after a semester of iPads in grades 9-12, I think everyone is glad we chose the latter. It has truly changed how I teach in my classroom.
I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.
P.S. I’m aware that there are probably other hardware or software out there that didn’t make my list, but what do you think? Were you one that grew up with it like I did? What has been the most significant change in the Ed Tech revolution?