I have to admit that while we were in small groups this past class, I had a moment of “WTF are they talking about!”, while listening to Curtis, Trevor and Jennifer discuss educational technology in the classroom and the SAMR and ISTE frameworks of educational technology. I felt very out of the loop for a moment and am so happy that they explained the frameworks and share the websites for both. This past week’s class and blog post has opened my eyes to what ed-tech is, how it has changed and how it should be used.
Educational technology has changed so much since I was in school and since I started teaching. Wikipedia defines educational technology as “the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning. Educational technology creates, uses, and manages technological processes and educational resources to help improve user academic performance.” As I have reminisced about how technology was used while I was in elementary and high school, I’m not always sure that it was used to help improve academic performance. However, I think that my teachers were using the technology in the best way they could at the time. I know that in my teaching practice I have had a very narrow perspective of what educational technology is and I haven’t always used the technology to facilitate learning, even though I thought I was at the time.
When I was in elementary school, we had one computer room full of Commodore 64’s and the room was like a sauna. The only thing I remember doing on the computers was creating shapes (like hearts and puppies) and printing them off on dot matrix paper. The best part about printing off a “picture” was ripping the sides of the paper off and folding them into accordions! Overhead projectors were also very popular while I was in elementary school. My whole grade five year was spent copying notes off of the overhead projector and learning how to copy down notes very quickly!
In high school there were computer labs, but there was also a typewriting lab. It was so loud in that room! My memories of grade 9 typing was our teacher yelling out letters to type “AAA space, SSS space, DDD space…” We also made pictures of hearts or puppies on the computer, but had graduated to using plain white paper, so it wasn’t nearly as fun. Besides the pictures of shapes and animals, the only reason we used computers was to practice typing and to play Solitaire or Minesweeper. After grade 10, I didn’t enroll in any classes that would have used technology and the teachers I had really only used VHS and movie reel projectors to watch videos in the class. It was during my post-secondary education, both at SIAST and the U of R, that I really started to use technology for my classes. During this time I mostly used programs from Microsoft Office. For the most part, all of the research I did was from books that I went to the library for. I remember taking a CS100 class in my first year of university and absolutely hated it.
In the first five years of teaching, I really didn’t step outside of the Microsoft Office suite too much. As I was reading Catherine’s blog from this week, I giggled to myself when she said that she started kindergarten in the mid 1990’s, and I also found that I was comparing how different our schooling experiences were and how that has shaped my idea of educational technology is. When looking at the SAMR Model for Technology Integration, I haven’t venture too far out of the Substitution stage, partly because of my comfort level with using ed-tech in the classroom. I also worry about how much technology and how long they are using technology throughout the day. In Neil Postman’s article Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change, he thinks that “culture always pays a price for technology.” This made me think of a conversation that I had in my class the other day. My students were saying how horrible it must have been to grow up without the internet and cell phones. My teaching partner and I disagreed with them because when we were young we spent so much time outside and playing with our friends. They obviously thought we were both Boomers and respectively disagreed with us, but their dependence and use of technology is a trade off for being outside, playing hide and go seek, laughing in person with friends and so much more.
Technology is every changing and at times it feels like I will never be able to keep up with all the changes. I hope to keep learning about how to use educational technology in my class, while being able to find balance too.