I would say that my teaching career began in 2001-2002 during my senior year of college. Even though I wasn’t an education major in undergrad, I had the opportunity to sub in a local Catholic high school and volunteered at an elementary school supported by the university. One of the teachers at the elementary school was kind enough to let me lead some lessons and it was the first opportunity I had to use “tech” in the classroom. I brought in the 2 megapixel digital camera I got for Christmas that year, let the students take some pictures and helped them put together a newspaper on a PowerPoint slide.
Seven years later, I still use that digital camera in my classroom. This is one of several holdouts from my early years of teaching. Many things have changed from those early years, but the biggest change isn’t the technology. The biggest change for me is how I use it (see example 5). Technology has allowed me to provide students with many more hands on and project based activities than ever before. Below are some of the things that have changed since I started teaching along with a note on how it’s not that different.
Early Years: My primary computer was a Titanium Powerbook with a 833 MHz processor and 256 mb of ram. I primarily used Internet Explorer since Safari wouldn’t run some of the websites I needed to use.
Now: My primary computer is a school issued Macbook with a 2.0 GHz Core 2 duo processor, but still only 512 mb of ram. The main browser I use is Firefox.
What’s the same: I still have the Titanium Powerbook in my room, which my students use almost daily. It also works as a print server and music storage device (Accessing iTunes via Bonjour).
Early Years: My Powerbook didn’t have a wireless card, but hardly anyone had a wireless access point anyway. I always had to connect with a cord. Also, since I was living on a stipend my first two years of teaching, my roommates and I didn’t spring for Internet access. The only place I could get online was at school.
Now: Almost everything is wireless now and I love it (home, school, McDonalds).
What’s the same: Most of the computers I’ve cobbled together in my classroom still require the cord (and then a router, cable, etc.). The cords can be frustrating, but paying for all the extra equipment or a new wireless card is worse. Bottom line, the cords haven’t gone away yet.
Early Years: When I wanted to show my students something on my computer screen, I had to reserve the traveling tv and hook it up via S-Video out on my computer.
Now: I got a projector in my classroom, which I use daily.
What’s the same: Both mediums let me get my computer screen – on-screen.
Early Years: Microsoft Office was everything. I put together my plans, worksheets, PowerPoints, and made a grading program on excel.
Now: Google Docs is everything. My students collaborate and share their work with me on it. I compose and post much of my classroom material on it.
What’s the same: I still use the grading program I made on excel because Google Docs messes up the formatting on it.
Early Years: Web 1.0 – I did a lot of researching, but never created anything on the web – nor did my students. The most creative work my students did on a computer was a PowerPoint and a little bit of iMovie.
Now: Web 2.0 – I create tons of content including games, reviews, quizzes – and it can all be accessed via my website, blog, or wiki. Better yet, my students are creating lots of content on the web also – timelines, bubble charts, podcasts, presentations, and more.
What’s the same: Not much, this is the one area that has totally changed the way I teach. It’s much a much more efficient and engaging way for students to be hands on in their learning.