Friday, June 3, 2011

"Growing Up" with Technology

I often tell people that I didn’t always have technology growing up, and if I can get past the rolling eyes of my older colleagues I continue by saying that in fact I did “grow up” with technology in a particular way.  The milestones in my education growing up were punctuated with important technology advances that we had no option but to adjust to. 

A "visual timeline" of the most iconic
technology tools of all time.  Being born right
after the Nintendo (NES), I've experienced
a whole lot of technology changes in my life.
Original Link
When I started school we didn't use computers whatsoever.  By 3rd grade I remember going to a "computer class", and using that old Encarta CD to look up facts for class.  Through the years at home we began to acquire technology, going from a computer with only DOS through dial-up days and eventually having a fairly capable computer with cable Internet by the time I was in high school.  I continued using technology in school, although I never saw an interactive whiteboard until I was in college.  Fast forward to present day when I have more technology in my one classroom than ANY class I was ever in growing up, even though I'm only 24.

What "growing up" with technology did to my generation is something I think we're missing as an opportunity for with our students.  It taught us to troubleshoot, problem solve, and always be thinking of ways to make things  better.  These key qualities that employers clearly value are being lost on the children we're teaching today, so why is that?

I used to fix the computer at my house when it had issues, and even the computers at school.  But more than that, I used to come up with better ways to do things using the available technology...something I still do today.  Now though, kids are born with a cell phone camera aimed at their little face, iPad's used to practice motor skills, and by the time I get them in 4th grade they have gotten more technology for birthdays and Christmas than I ever have.

Bottom line...we're missing a big opportunity to let those students get their creative juices flowing and thinking of the next big thing.  We're either so overwhelmed with the current state of technology we have, or we just don't have time, that we have stopped thinking about what's next altogether unless Steve Jobs schedules another media event.

As teachers we not only need to model tech use, but more importantly get it in the students' hands by whatever means possible.  It's no longer an option not to utilize tech tools because you might think it's "good for them" or you don't want to learn.  Think about as teachers how we never STOP using technology to perform regular functions of our job: lesson plans, putting in grades, creating work for students, checking and writing e-mail, etc.  Those systems have only gotten more sophisticated through the years and they will continue to do so for those kids in our rooms today.  You don't have to steer kids towards  a particular field, prepare them ALL for college necessarily, but preparing them for the "future" is the biggest task we face.

Mostly because we're already behind in educating them for the present.

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