I moved offices recently and decided to get rid of things instead of moving them.
I came across a new technology item that I was excited to learn, use, research its effectiveness – WAS, that is several years ago: my Dell Axim (Dell’s version of a Palm Pilot). It was cutting edge technology! (I even got the bluetooth mini keyboard!) I was set to travel without a big, heavy, awkward laptop. I liked it. I was impressive. I was functional.
At the time, hand held devices were new and exciting. This electronic assistant did word processing email, calendars, and a few other things. I was interested in how we could use it in education but never got the chance to start a project. (I went into an administrative role and did much less teaching.)
So as I was moving some of this I got to thinking about how cutting edge this was, and how not cutting edge it is now. These few years later when I am back to teaching and research, that cutting edge technology is not more than a paperweight (and not even that – it is in the box of stuff I moved but did not throw away). Now, the smart phone does more than those things did – and some even cost less than my $500 Axim, and they now have full color screens, take pictures, and so much more.
But before I got too discouraged I started to thinking of the research I read and the ideas and projects others tried out. How much did they pave the way for a better product, a better technology? How much did we educators learn from our triumphs and mistakes? I hope we don’t make the same mistakes over and over with every new technological development!
It’s all called progress. But do we have to start all over with each new development? Not really – just learn the new technology again and again. (I started teaching before computers – just sayin’ it’s a lot of learning.)
The next steps of using technology in education (or wherever you are) should be based on what we have already learned and experienced. I did not start new research with my iPad. Instead, I looked at what others were doing right and wrong, in what situations, with what audience and what learners. From that I looked to what I could do in my situation, with my learners. Then I tried it. Some of that you have read here; other steps you will be reading about (or other trip-ups and stumbles – I’ll share them, too).
I’m settled into my new office now, and glad coffee makers haven’t changed much. I’m using the current technology and looking at where it is going. I’ll keep trying and letting you know how it is going.
But for now, I’m going to go listen to my LP’s and try to get them digitized.