Instructional Technologies Journal Entry 1/29/14

I. T. Journal Entry for January 29th, 2014

The Reflection of Technology in the Eyes of a Thirty-Something

At Home…

I remember the first computer we had when I was a child.  My Step-Dad had rigged it to plug into our floor television that was contained in a very old wooden frame. You would type “RUN xyz” or “LOAD xyz” in order to tell it what to do.  We had only one game the kids were allowed to play.  Though I do not remember the name of it, it was a typing skills game that timed and tested accuracy on the following sentence, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”   It was so much fun to see how high of a score you could get.  We were only allowed to play once a week so whoever got the high score had an entire seven days of blissful gloating.

I think it was around the time I was in eighth grade that Super Mario Brothers had reached the farthest corners of the land and every child was “boop, boop, boo, de doop de doo” ing all summer long.   Those of us who couldn’t at home, quickly found friends that could and decided regular sleepovers were in order.  For the better part of a year, it entranced us.  But as all good things do, it ended for most of us.  One could only beat the castle so many times.  There were a select few that were still racing home to the next hot, new game.  They tended to be the same kids receiving “Nintendo” magazine and talking of little else.  My brother had become one of those kids.

Since the time of “All Good Men”, My Step-Dad always had a computer for business use.  There was no need for us to use it for school.  Ever.  No teacher would have ever expected anything less than a perfect penmanship paper.  I am fairly certain that had any teacher asked for computer-printed paper, my Step-Dad would have lorded over me as I wrote like a computer prints.  If my grade suffered, he would have been first in line demanding to speak to someone about the lack of sound judgment in allowing a child anywhere near a computer!

 At School and Beyond…

In high school, we had typing class.  There were about twenty typewriters that we practiced on day in and day out for an entire semester.  I believe it was my Junior or Senior year that our school library got two computers for student use, but most of us didn’t really care because we all already knew how to quickly and efficiently use the card catalog.

I graduated high school in 1995, the year that the internet was first really gaining momentum by the general public.  I vaguely remember black screens with eery green glowing letters.  I remember being one of two girls in the “computer lab” in College.   Using hotmail and typing papers was the extent of using those computers and Lord help me, if the printer slipped off the side holes while printing my project, it was enough to make handwriting desirable!  The first laptop I owned was actually named the “electronic typewriter” and boasted “being able to correct errors in 5 lines of text!!”  It had a green screen and the letters where black.

After leaving college with only a year and a half in—an error I am currently working to remedy—I headed into the workforce.  It turned out I had a knack for quickly picking up the how to’s of any program and consistently incorporated computers into the projects I worked on.  My husband went on to school to graduate with a degree in Computer Networking, which was extremely beneficial to me as my first semester back in College after more than 15 years consisted of only online classes.  That semester I learned how to use D2L fairly well through the University of Wisconsin-Colleges Online.  It was fascinating to have Professors from all over the State and fellow Students from all over the Globe.  After being accepted to UWGB that experience from UW-CO and D2L translated into great experience!

 My Current Opinion…

Currently, I want to see more research as to the positive advances and/or proven effectiveness in the classroom.  I hear many people say, “It must” and “Technology helps”  but I am always left wondering how much?  In what ways does it help?  Is it worth the dollars spent – or would textbooks that kids can touch be money better spent?  I understand the value of our kids knowing technology, but I think it should come in middle and high school, not elementary.

I was recently invited to tell a story to a 1st grade classroom.  Walking down the hall I could hear the excited whispers and I smiled.  When I entered the room, all the children were lounged out in different corners or sprawled out on the floor.  They each had an ipad in their hands.   As I stood waiting my turn, I watched kids open one application, play it to frustration or boredom, then open another, then another.  I felt as though every subject had been exhausted before I even sat down.  The children were told to put their ipads away and sit on the story carpet and so they did.  The story I was reading was Yertle the Turtle, by Dr. Suess and though a bit longer it is a perfect fit for 1st graders.  After the first page, I noticed a few of the kids, regardless of my animated telling, start to look around.  Two of the students, the teacher moved closer to her.  I think she was nervous they would start to misbehave.  I finished the story with no incidents, but was a bit perplexed at the situation.  That night I relived the occurrence and was left wondering about the true effect of technology on our kids.

I was Vice-President of that Parent- Teacher Group and year after year we raised money for SMART boards.  The same pitch was given every year about the need for technology and competing in a very different world, so every year at least two classrooms got the boards, until all elementary classrooms were outfitted with them.  I keep hearing the principal talking about what a poor area “we” service.  I think it is a matter of perspective.  Thinking back, we had no smart board, no ipad for every child.  There were times we shared textbooks, because there was not enough for each child to have one.  But we learned.  We imagined.  We created.

We need to remember with anything positive, there is something negative.  As future educators, we need to look for the negative factors and determine counter strategies to help our kids succeed.

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