In Thirty Years

Much has been said about Astronaut Hatfield and we know that his use of social media by an astronaut has been a first.   More importantly, I think that we as educators must notice how the technology has engaged many of Canada’s youth in learning.  Last night after watching him perform David Bowie’s song at my son’s band concert (yes music concert and science and technology) I couldn’t help but make some connections to my thirty years as an educator.  I doubt that when Bowie wrote this song in 1969, he expected that it would be performed in a space station or that it would have more than 12 000 000 youtube views.  (Beautiful….thanks Mr. P., Mrs. and Mr. B. for sharing this with our children.)

When I started university in 1979, I called home only once every two weeks.  Long distance telephone calls were expensive.  It was very lonely at times and I remember wishing my mom and dad were close.  When my own son moved away to attend university, talking via Skype and Facebook assured me he was doing well.  Thank goodness for technology.  It made it much easier (and cheaper) to connect.

When I began teaching in 1983 we entered attendance by hand, in pen into a register. that had to balance at the end of each month.  Now we use PowerTeacher.  Attendance is calculated by the computer program and shows up on our reports.  Thank goodness for our new technology….it saves me time.

Twenty-eight years ago, there was great excitement in our classroom when we got our first Apple IIE and half dozen pieces of software.  We didn’t care that we had black and white screens and that it took a long time to load a program.  It was progress.  We thought we were on the cutting edge when the school bought some sort of car phone stored in a large brief case for our 600 mile school trip to Winnipeg.  It never occurred to us that thirty years later we would be able to watch performances and interact with astronauts from an International Space Station…..LIVE.  Thank goodness for our new technology.  I can travel and easily stay connected to home.  I can program a mobile device to get me to my destination.  We have technological capabilities that allow us to connect easily, even to folks in space.  That makes travel easier and enhances my learning!

When we got our very first home computer in 1992 at a cost of $2400, I was so thankful to have a word processor and printer right in my house.  Prior to that I used a manual typewriter with a carriage return lever.  Thank goodness for technology.  Just being able to edit my school newsletters and reports without using white out or typewriter erasers made me a better writer.

Thirty years ago who would have thought that there would come a time when there would be more mobile devices than people.  I don’t think technology will be going away.  We must prepare our kids for the future by encouraging them to use their technology in responsible ways, to critically think, analyze and evaluate.  And we must do this with the same kind of excitement we had when our school received it’s first Apple IIE (if you remember that far back).   We have no idea what kinds of technology we will see in ten years let alone thirty.  Isn’t that a good enough reason to embrace technology and see it as an opportunity to reach new destinations in our learning and in our student’s learning?  Count down’s on!  Step through that door and see the stars in a different way.


About lgatzke

I am an assessment supervisor passionate about getting kids smarter. As Dylan Wiliam says, "Smart is not something you are, smart is something you get".
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