I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with technology. You know the teacher that ALWAYS seems to jam the copier in the middle of the morning rush? Or who always seems to put the printer offline? Yup…that would be me! I get annoyed and frustrated when it makes me feel inept or takes inordinate amounts of time to fix. I also get irked quite easily when cells phones go off in class or a student is text-messaging instead of reading during “Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading” time. (I think the most number of phones that I’ve confiscated during a single class is somewhere around seven). This attitude probably stems from my upbringing in the midst of Amish country in southwestern Ontario. I’m not Mennonite myself, but my parents built a log cabin on a rural gravel road and were the only house on our entire concession which had electricity until just recently. I did not watch TV growing up, had a rotary phone and enjoyed a very quiet and naïve upbringing.
On the other hand, I LOVE the communication possibilities and learning opportunities that new technology can present! I have many friends worldwide that I can correspond with daily on social networking sites like Facebook. I have the ability to maintain long distance relationships with my boyfriend, family, and friends on Skype for free. I can post pictures for anyone to view and also see photos of my rapidly growing niece & nephews. I also get excited about using new probe ware and motion sensors in the science lab, playing with “Google Earthquake” applications on the web with students and occupying time with my friend’s new “Kindle”.
When I went home this summer to visit my family, I took two pictures that sums up the juxtaposition that I feel about technology. The first is a traditional horse and buggy driving down our road (which is a far more common sight than cars). The second image is of an Amish farm that has no electrical lines, but a modern windmill instead. The second image really made me pause and think. Use of technology has become unavoidable in today’s society…it’s that simple. What forms of technology we use, how we use them and for what purpose have become the new ideologies that we must question and evaluate.
As a teacher, I am not yet as comfortable with computers and the internet as my students are. I got my first email account in 1995 – which is the same year that most of my students were born! (This goes to show that they have been accessing the internet for almost as long as I have.) If I am going to help teach these young adults to become lifelong learners and help prepare them for an ever-changing workplace, I need to improve my own teaching practice and comfort level with new forms of technology. If the students are going to continue to bring i-phones and i-pods to class (and they will, no matter how many times I confiscate them) then perhaps they should be learning how to pod cast and exhibit social responsibility when using social networking sites. I am really looking forward to my Web 2.0 course. My goal is to become as adept as I can be with the internets’ possible applications for education, reflect on how they can be used as effective instructional and learning tools and implement as much as possible in my own teaching practice.
Wish me luck!
PS. My mom finally has internet access…but it is dial-up!