Remember taking typing tests in elementary school? Remember those awful floppy disks? Remember VHS’s and VCRs? I do, and boy, I do not miss them. Elementary school for me was about as tech-less as one can imagine today. Sure, we did some learning computer games (Math Blasters, anyone?) and of course typing tests, but never did we have hands-on technology to enhance our learning. That stuff just didn’t exist! I remember movies days, when the teacher would have to go to the library and get a TV cart (of course, with a tube TV attached to it), wheel that unsightly thing into the classroom, and then place it just right at the front of the room so everyone could see it. Large screens apparently didn’t exist in the early 2000’s. Oh, and let’s not forget research projects. Say, my third grade self wanted to learn about Harry S. Truman for my social studies Presidents’ Day project. How grateful was I that my library had not one but TWO additions of World Book Encyclopedia! Of course, myself and most of my classmates dreaded those things more than chicken patty lunch days (couldn’t we have gotten an upgrade on lunch too?), but alas, no one even thought about hopping on Google to do research.
I’ve observed elementary classrooms where there are SmartBoards that the class works on together and laptops, tablets, IPads, and computers for kids to access when they please. It blew my mind to see little fingers typing as fast as myself, or swiping screens with more efficiency that I could manage. I had to take a step back and realize that a lot has changed in the past ten years.
It wasn’t until the last years of high school that SmartBoards were used throughout my school. Before that, whiteboards were the “big deal”. Of course, nearly everyone knew what a smartphone was (or had one) by the end of my senior year and most people had updated laptops. In the first two years or so of high school (2009, 2010), my computer teacher (yeah, we actually got taught computer skills and coding back then!) bought a cart of Dell laptops that could be rented out by teachers. What a lovely idea! …Except those laptops were old and practically useless when the school got them. What started as a nice start to integrating technology into the classroom turned into a flop due to poor funding and unease about change. The thing is, though, things had already changed by then and those changes were not stopping.
I suppose those changes were spurred by the evolution of information processing and communications. Let’s be honest, we like things fast and we like things immediately. Ever had a slow computer? It’s awful, isn’t it? Yet it was less than a decade ago that people were suffering through dial-up internet. Google, Apple, and Samsung have made huge leaps in technology over the years, and people are fascinated by it. It’s curiosity and convenience, really, that got people caught on the fast track of technology integration in schools. Technology is a wonderful thing. It allows us to connect to other people and ideas in a blink of an eye. It allows us to learn more information faster. It’s no surprise that teachers want to integrate SmartBoards and IPads into their classrooms. Technology makes lessons fun for everyone. It allows us to do more, see more, and be more. What’s nice about technology today is that someone has already done it. A new and creative lesson is just a Google search away!