A Teacher’s Tale of 41 years
It was August 1972. There was no World Wide Web or computers in education. I walked into my classroom in a portable building equipped with chalkboards, chalk, erasers, and jars of snakes that were donated by a school board member and his son. Yes, the son would be in my class that year. The Open Classroom approach left many school buildings with rooms that had no walls. As the decade progressed I was excited to have access to an opaque projector, filmstrip and slide projectors, and the PURPLE PLAGUE….the mimeograph machine. My students loved to smell the papers fresh from that machine. How many brain cells were lost in that pursuit? Pong was an obsession of mine. Little did I know then that I would stay in education long enough to see the gamification of education. Who knew! Unknown to me at this time, a change in education was beginning with donations to schools of a thing they called an Apple computer.
The 80’s came quickly, and change was swift. Teachers were needed to teach something called Computer Literacy so I signed up. The love was immediate. I worked in a room of computers called Apple IIc. With Basic Programming I could make a car move across the screen while music played. It was magic! There was no Internet, networking computers was just getting off the ground, and a computer had no mouse. But none of that mattered. I had a dot-matrix printer and floppy disks with MECC, Broderbund, and the Learning Company software that allowed my students to type papers, do math problems, and drive a wagon along the Oregon Trail with hopes of surviving dysentery. My high school Computer Literacy class used 8 IBM PC Jr's, 1 Commodore 64, an Apple IIGS, and the IBM PC1. I used the over-head projector in my classroom with markers that had me walking the halls with various colors up and down my arm. Schools were under fire in this decade after reports such as “A Nation at Risk” and “A Nation Prepared” were released. The findings from those reports criticized achievement scores, graduation rates, student expectations, and called for increases in teacher salaries, restructuring of schools, and major reforms. Sound familiar?
Then woo-hoo for the 90’s and beyond! The Internet happened, and now I had Lemonade Stand. I had videodiscs, simulations, CD-ROM disks, and dry-erase boards with markers. I thought it could not get better! The Apple Macintosh was created in the 80’s, but I did not see it in the classroom until the early 90’s. HyperCard, HyperStudio, multimedia graphics and the Sound Blaster sound card were creating wonderful worlds for our students. We gathered around that Compaq computer to look in awe at the encyclopedia that had sounds and videos……and the “You’ve Got Mail” message even influenced movies. The growth of the Internet was far faster than most predicted. Netscape, Java, Hotmail, and Internet Explorer all made an appearance. We moved from MS-DOS to Windows.
The rest you should know......iPads, laptops, interactive white boards, and smart phones. The tools available today are mind-blowing. I participated in the beginning of technology use in the classroom and hope to continue. I have no doubt that a change is coming…….again.