Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tools - Then and Now

That's me with my twins. 12 years ago.

I remember the day our resource team was issued laptops. This particular one is a Compaq. Overnight it doubled my workload. I've since wondered why school districts haven't adopted this strategy more widely. Some are considering it. I mean, really, at the time I didn't seem to mind. Kind of like having a mobile phone issued from work nowadays. There is a felt-sense at the outset that one needs to be accessible all the time.

As a self confessed gadget guy, (I'm counting, at first glance on my desk here about a dozen or so technology gadgets smaller than my hand.) I blame my dad ever since he took me to his office in the late '60s and showed me his gadgets: a nifty one was a magnetic device of some kind that erased cassette tapes. Hold the tape against the device, rub it around a little and the cassette is wiped and ready to go again. Another was a large metal rotating drum. It was a fax machine where you had to plug the receiver end of the phone into it to send the fax.

My gadgetness was not lost on my kids. Notice the zen-like look on their faces. They're zeroed in. Every couple of years the district would refresh our laptops and phones and we had the good fortune to be able to purchase cameras, microphones, portable this and portable that. My kids were always playing around with the likes of some kind of gadget when they were young. And of course they had to test all the software before I tried it in schools. My son, although he doesn't remember, could beat Castle Explorer by the end of Grade 4. And my daughter drew the most amazing pictures in Kid Pix. Of course this was all before social media and Macs.

I'm not sure how my kids would learn and connect nowadays without their devices. Oh, they would struggle through. But I think of how having a laptop has helped with the writing process for both my kids. This alone is worth it. My two have been fortunate to have had ubiquitous unfiltered wi-fi access at their school since grade 7. And since the end of grade 8 have had 1 to 1 computing too. So they haven't had to "power down" when they go to school.

I spent my first summer in 12 years without a laptop the last two months. Was it difficult? There were times when I wished I had one. But until my new one arrived yesterday I had forgotten how much I missed it. I keep saying to my kids.. look what I have... their response is "Oh, that's nice dad". My friend Andy talks about how technology and the internet are like "oxygen". So I guess my trying to get a rise out of my teenagers is like trying to get a rise out of them by breathing. Not impressive. "Get over it, Dad."

So now the fun begins. Using our tools for learning during the school year that is almost here. I'm back in the classroom and hope to be able to use my laptop in my school. Wi Fi is on the horizon at my school and we have a bring your own devices policy. Can't wait. It will be exciting. And like my kids I don't want to have to power down when I get to school.

Here's hoping, if you've read this far, that your tools for learning help you out along the way during this school year.

They sure have for my kids and me!


dougpete said...

Nice reflection, Kent, and congratulations on your new acquisition.

I've been thinking lately about the number of reads lately that are attempting to cram a technology lifestyle of various sorts down everyone's throats almost in a religious fervour manner. I think that's a shame and I turn off almost immediately when I hear that.

I do like reading stories about things but I think it's the story that's the most powerful component for me. It's the "this is what it did for me" type of story that makes me think and is the most powerful and not the "this is what it did for me and you need to do this too otherwise you're a lesser person".

With the wide selection of everything, we can all develop our own stories, digital or not, based upon our own choices. We'll make some unfortunate choices and decisions along the way but they're easily forgotten. The powerful and most influential ones are the ones that create the lifelong memories that stick such as sitting at a table with your children learning together. I'll bet you never forget that.

Royan Lee said...

Such a beautiful post and comment from Doug. Thanks for sharing this little part of you. The photo is priceless.

Kent Manning said...

@Doug We are the same when it comes to an appreciation for story. With not too long left in "the career" I find myself becoming a tad more reflective in my writing. In fact, I'd like to do a series of posts reflecting on what, in my humble opinion, has been a wonderful career. One that I am so fortunate to have had. And of course family is why we do what we do for the most part, eh? Thanks for chiming in and you're right, those moments with our kids are hard to forget.

@royan I'm a little old school in that I don't post too many of my kids photos. Never too late. As long as a good story goes along with it. Thanks for taking a few moments to comment.

jessicasfrancis said...

Great comments here Kent! Your future students, as is the case with all the students you work with, are very lucky to have the opportunity to experience your passion for education and technology. Enjoy the classroom again and hopefully we can work together again some day.

Kent Manning said...

@jessica Thanks for your kind words Jessica. And yes, it would be great to work together again. Perhaps another student film!