As a student I had very little interest in computers. Watching my classmates play the most ridiculous computer games instead of doing their ‘work’ was really the closest I came to interacting with technology. I am a little ashamed to admit that throughout my entire Grade 10 compulsory semester of ICT I managed to totally avoid turning the computer on. It wasn’t until I somehow scraped my way into university that I was forced to set up an email account; I considered this the ultimate imposition. At university I dabbled with the Inspiration Software but concluded that a paper and pen worked just as well. My boyfriend at the time completed all other technology related assignments for me and I really didn’t feel like I was missing out on much. Needless to say, technology did not play a major role in my education or my life. On the odd occasion when it was offered I avoided it as much as possible and failed to see how it was relevant to my life.
In my first year of teaching, the Victorian government provided me with a laptop. For the first time I had my own computer and I actually started to find uses for it. At around the same time, I bought my first ipod and was forced to learn how to drop, drag, install and manage folders etc. I used my computer to format documents mostly and research content on the Internet. I discovered programs like Rubistar and started dabbling with Excel spread sheets. I would design lessons that required the Internet for research purposes and allow students the choice of how to present their work but it’s fair to say that on the whole I was doing old things in old ways.The Victorian government was good to me and provided me with many opportunities to learn about technology in the classroom. They had an agenda to make schools more technology friendly in the interests of progress and that suited me fine. Although I was still very suspicious, I had begun to see for myself some of the potential that technology had to offer. The more I learned, the more confident I became. I started to do old things in new ways. I designed a website for the students to access class documents and important dates and experimented with Prezi and electronic whiteboards as ways of communicating information to students. I found that all of these strategies were resulting in less work for me, or more enjoyable work at the least, however the assessment and activities that the students were completing did not look all that different from when I was at school.
While technology had changed my classroom, it had not transformed it. My classroom had not been overly affected by the introduction of technology but my attitude towards it had. So what does a new thing done in a new way look like and how does one get there? As I reflected on my own personal journey, I concluded two things. Firstly, for new things to be done in new ways, technology needs to be personal and omnipresent. It wasn’t until I had my own laptop and that I started to engage. Secondly, for new things to exist they should be relevant to everyday life and extend outside of the classroom. I think that education worth having will involve students collaborating and connecting in ways that have never been able to be done before. I have started to focus my energy on planning for experiences that involve immediate feedback from peers in the form of comments left on blogs, collaborating on Google docs and social bookmarking sites. I believe that for this to work to its full potential, every student should have access to their own laptop all of the time. Technology should be implemented consistently and purposefully across the curriculum and students should be allowed to take a leading role in teaching the skills necessary to navigate technology. I am excited by the idea of teaching and learning in new ways and looking forward to the journey.