Monday, January 02, 2006

Are You Surprised by the Technology of 2005?

Previously I posted about David Warlick asking if in 1995 we would've imagined the technological tools that are present (or at least could be present) in the classroom of 2005, and then imagining what the classroom of 2015 might look like. Since then I stumbled across a well-known edublogger who commented on the original post and disagrees. He thinks that most reasonably informed folks in 1995 wouldn't be surprised by the technology of 2005, specifically the access to and resources of the Internet.

While I've only commented once or twice on other people's blogs before this (well, blogs other than your personal blogs), I decided to comment on his. He responded to my comment, and then I responded back. In my latest comment I decided to drag you guys into this. So, please go read the exchange (as well as other folks' comments - mine are currently toward the bottom, you'll have to scroll a bit), and then let me know whether you are shocked (surprised, amazed - you pick the adjective) at the technology options available in 2005. Try to remember yourself in 1995 and what you would've thought then. Then please comment on this post and I'll relay your responses on (or you could, of course, comment directly on his).

I'm curious to see whether you guys foresaw 2005 more clearly than I give you credit for.


  1. Karl,

    Thanks for the exchange. I have a lot of respect for Tom Hoffman. He is very smart, and as he stated in his posting, are goals are mostly the same. He does tend to see things from a narrow point of view, but that is something that I am certainly guilty of. His comments on my blog, though sometimes irritating, do make me think and rethink. I hope that my posts sometimes have the same affect on him.

    All that said, I think that the far more interesting and important question is not "Could we have imagined how far we'd come in 10 years?" but, "Why haven't we come farther?" Our children, in being prepared for the 21st century, should be learning within a 21st century information environment. Yet we are still predominantly teaching them to use paper.

    Any defenses of why we are still teaching from an assembly line, industrial age model are only excuses -- excuses we should be ashamed of.

    two more pennies.

  2. David,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. In case you check back, I agree that students should be learning in a 21st century information environment. This blog is in support of a staff development project that revolves around 21st century learning skills as well as a constructivists approach to education.

    As far as "Why haven't we come farther?", I'm not sure there's an easy answer for that. But at this point, I guess, I don't have the time and energy to look back to try to answer that (or that an answer would be very helpful). I would prefer to focus my energies on looking forward - which is what this blog and our staff development is attempting to do. Your blog - as well as all the other usual suspects - has been extremly helpful in my own education on these topics and is helping frame our staff development. So if you do decide to return to our blog, we'd love to have your perspective. (We're on winter break right now, so most of the posts have been more informational and posted by me. Normally, the posts are more directly related to our staff development and are commented on by the 20 teachers participating in this year's cohort.)

    Also, I'm wondering how you found our humble blog? I know it's out there and not hard to find if you're looking for it, but I'm surprised anyone went looking for it. So, I'm curious, did you do a search for your name? Or did you read the exchange on Tom's blog and search for my name? If you do read this, let me know - I'm just curious.

    Thanks again for visiting.

  3. Hello to all visionaries and digital teachers,
    I have enjoyed reading your course blogs for your technology and constructivism class. Then I moved on to reading some of your classroom blogs. Your school is really moving along with 21st century digital literacy skills.
    I am a teacher in Maine who is lucky enough to be on sabbatical for a trimester. I am working on developing science lesson resources with technology for elementary students in our school. So, I have time to search and read excellent web blogs. Yours is one of them!
    This year has been a technological journey for me. I am a technology integrator at our elementary school. One of my peers started a classroom podcast with his multi 3/4 students. When I went on sabbatical I began a podcast as a way to keep in touch with my students and the community. All of this to say since last April when Bob started his Room 208 podcast, and I began my podcast and working with his students, there is no way I could have predicted where all this digital learning would have taken us. I think our jobs as educators are to prepare our students for the unpredictable, give them the skills to find information, analyze it, and synthesize it make conclusions for the future.
    My vision for 2015 is that we allow "schools" to be the containers or virtual containers where "students" (and I think teachers are students) have a safe environment where they can harness the possibilities for our future with the flexibility to embrace all the elements of the unknown.
    Keep up your great blogs.

  4. I just finished reading all of the exchanges on the outside blog and the Fischbowl. It's pretty awesome that people from so many different places can collaborate, discuss, and challenge one another so easily.

    I was a senior in high school in 1995. My access to technology was limited to typing class and word processing. During my time at college, I still only used the computer for papers and checking my "green screen" e-mail. The internet was something I was just starting to learn about.

    During my six years of teaching, there has definitely been a profusion of technology--more and more, faster and faster. So, I am definitely suprised by what's available to us in 2005, now 2006. My experience with technology ten years ago was so limited that I wouldn't have even known HOW to imagine the possibilities, much less WHAT might be out there.

    Needless to say, I am happy to be a part of a class that is teaching me about what's available and then challenging me to do the same for my students.

    On a side note, I was really struck by what Mr. Warlick said about the fact that we are still predominately teaching our students how to use paper. During a typical day, I rarely use paper for anything other than bathroom passes, grocery lists, or coloring with my 1 1/2 year old. E-mail, the internet, cell phones, and ti-vo are integral to my daily routine. Yet in my classroom, paper (notes, assignments, labs) is the guiding force. I have started making changes here and there, but what could happen if I gave up control, embraced the unknown, and really "imagined the possibilities?"

    This goes back to Karl's post about taking everything vision for 2015 is that my classroom is on the leading edge rather than grasping tightly to what's always been done.

  5. Thanks, Karl, for directing us to such a fascinating exchange of ideas. The idea that struck me most involved replacing some teaching positions with more computers. Boy, I wonder why any teachers would object to that? Generally, though, I don't think that teachers fear that they will be replaced by technology. Rather, they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of innovation that occurs seemingly every day. There are also teachers who remain unconvinced by various technologies out there.
    By the way, back in 1995, I was just beginning to teach and had never even opened an internet browser, so I know that I did not envision what we have today.

  6. I guess "reasonably informed" is all relative. I do not think the average teacher in 1995 had any idea where this was headed. Most of us were not aware of what existed even at that time.

  7. From my experience in 1995 I was attending a private liberal arts college in Minnesota where we had two computer labs for the entire school population. One was a Mac lab and the other a PC lab. I had a vague idea of email and was beginning to see the splendor of technology but it pales in comparison to how I use technology now and where I am going with technology. Realistically, I don't think anyone could predict where we are going; rather, I think the important thing is to be opne minded about it.

  8. I am with Cara. I was a senior in high school in 1995 and had no idea where technology was at or where it was going. It is amazing to think of the advancements that have happened in the last 10 year. To think of the next ten, you could only underestimate where we are going to be then. I am glad that I got involved in this because you can see from some of this feedback from around the country that we are on the front edge of changing the ways of education.

  9. I think students will appreciate these tools and skills more. I sometimes feel jealous that students in this technological age have the oppportunities that many of did not receive when we were younger, growing up, going to school. I never even thought of these kinds of things when I was young beyond word processing. Heck, barely any of us had cell phones. I can't see why (beyond comfort) teachers would not be for these advancements and integrating them into the class. The collaboration, involvement, and feedback may be overwhleming, but we are asking the difficult questions and that to me is most important. If we don't ask those hard questions, we may just stay stagnant. I still don't know where technology is going, but what I do know is that change is one constant factor that we all must live with, and if we don't try to keep up with it, we may just wash out. I am pleased that we are making efforts in this new age of education and I hope we continue to ask the difficult questions.

  10. My perspective on these things is a little different, because I started at Carnegie Mellon, as a writing major, in 1987, at whch point CMU was already the first campus on the planet to have every room in the campus wired for ethernet. So I had very early exposure to semi-ubiquitous computing.

    Even so, having though about this point a bit, I do think that for most people, the direction things were going in (i.e., the web, Windows, MS Office) should have been pretty clear by, say, 1997/98. But even in 1995, the idea that we were going to create networks in schools and connect those to the internet wasn't that exotic.

    Certainly, there have been a lot of surprises about what has sprung up on the net (eBay, Wikipedia, etc) but that's not what I meant.

    Nice blog, by the way.

  11. I have to say that I feel the same as the other people that posted. When I was in middle school, a long time ago, I was an editor of the yearbook. We used one Mac Classic (I am not sure it was called a "classic" then) to put the entire book together. In high school, also in the 90's like others, I had very limited access to technology. In college, I ued the computer for lab reports and to gather data but for nothing else. My first job in a lab setting was driven by the use of computers.

    I like what has been said about the use of paper. I am not sure why we continue to use paper when the rest of our lives are "paperless" for the most part. It seems that change, in education, is a slow process and what works is kept around for longer than it needs to be.

    I had no idea that computers and other technology would be used in schools this soon after I started teaching. I cannot wait to see what the next level is in education. The changes that are occuring are coming a lot faster than I would have ever thought possible. I guss that just like the students I was thinking about my own little world and not the big picture.

  12. This all caught me by suprise. I did my MA in 1994 and used a WP for writing papers but there weren't even mice yet! I remember discussing "Bulletin Boards" for teachers on the internet but that is it. It really made no sense at the time. Never dreamed that it would get this big. I was teaching in a fairly poor school and the teachers had computers but no computer lab for students. For me, a lot has changed since 1995 and I don't even know the half of it!

  13. Although I certainly didn't foresee all of this technology in 1995, I will say that I think that a number of my college professors were trying to give me a glimpse of it through their teaching. (I started college in 1995.) Thinking back, it does not surprise me that the two professors I had that year who won different teaching awards (one Notre Dame award, one national award) were the two professors who most integrated technology into their daily lessons. I would also note that their classes were two of my most engaging that year.