I am sharing an article from 1997 from Education Week. Technology Counts, School Reform in the Information Age. I am asking that you take a glance and see where your state reported in relation to how tech ready the education system was. You’ll likely agree that we have come so far so fast, yet we still have many of the same problems that haunted us 23 years ago. One of my favorite parts of this article is the mention of RETA in NM. In 1998, I became a member of the Regional Education Technology Assistance Initiative, RETA. This was a state-wide professional development program designed to enhance the use of educational technology. I was hooked! I continued with the same cohort for 2 years; learning everything I could about the developing technologies of the time and how to use them in my classroom. At the time, I was teaching a class called, “High Tech” in a middle school. We were learning to use the popular Macintosh Classic 2. It was a very modern piece of equipment for the time because it was an evolution to the 5 ¼ inch disk from the 8-inch floppy disk. We used the computers to develop the school newsletter (basically substituting the computer for a typewriter) where we literally copied and pasted (with glue sticks)! The class was really popular, and I loved teaching it. Eventually “High Tech” was faded out and in came the computer lab. This was to enable ALL content areas the access to the lab. I was a huge proponent of the integrated approach so that all students could have access to the computers. However, it meant I didn’t have the class anymore, but I went on to teach other courses, always including technology into my lesson planning, mostly in the form of PowerPoints and web-based scavenger-hunts when I had a turn in the lab.
In 2002, I wrote my first grant: Enhancing Education Through Technology (E2T2). This opportunity came as PED flow-through funds from a federally funded initiative. I couldn’t believe it when I was awarded the funds to purchase a Computers on Wheels Cart (COW) with 25 Apple computer laptops. For a year, my principal let me keep the cart in my own classroom until the other teachers in the school started inquiring how they could also use the cart. So, once again, for the benefit of all the students, I stood aside for progress and let the cart go into library circulation. In the mid-2000’s the COW concept caught on like wildfire, and the computer lab concept became less appealing.
Fast forward to 2019, you will rarely see computer labs in modern schools. They are now “maker spaces” or other kinds of rooms intended to house interactive technology and facilitated learning. COWs are now smaller and filled with inexpensive Chrome Books that are assigned to students for continual use. In the best-case scenarios, every classroom has a bank of portable technology, interactive white boards, and cloud-based instruction. We now expect teachers to offer deeper applications with technology as it has become more relevant, personalized, and common-place in the classroom. We’ve come a long way baby!
I have a deep appreciation for the power of technology in the learning environment as a tool. I want to be on the cutting edge of the next generational expansion of the use of educational technology. This is the reason my area of emphasis is Educational Learning Technologies. I believe it’s important to stop and look back at all the ground you have covered professionally. I challenge you to appreciate how far you have come, and how far you have left to go. Keep the faith!