Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Autobiography of Me as a Technology User

The other day at school a staff member searched me out because she needed me to help with technology in her classroom.  As I walked down the hall, I thought, “Me, a technology expert?”  Who was I kidding?  I am certainly no expert. While I am competent around my computer, I began to think about my journey  as a technology user.  However, I have to say again, I am far from an expert.
A Long Time Ago
I remember our first cell phone in the late 1980s.  My husband brought it home and it was large and unwieldy.  It weighed a lot and had a large handle on the back to help carry it like a small purse. Our family was excited that we could get hold of dad so much easier now when we needed him.  My husband was always up on the new technology out there and so it was natural that he would bring home a cell phone when it was available.  We always had the latest gaming systems for home entertainment as well. Shortly after procuring a cell phone, he began to talk about purchasing a home computer, but because it was so expensive, that was it; we only talked.  However, the topic did not disappear as his friend had a computer and my husband felt that we “needed” one also (to keep up with the Campbells?).

In 1990, our youngest son was born and I decided to go to university to pursue my education degree.  In the beginning, I wrote papers and then dutifully took them to a typist who would format and produce a beautiful paper for me to hand in.  This became a bother to arrange (especially since most of my homework was done late at night when my children were in bed) and we finally decided to purchase a Tandy computer. We bought it second hand; it was horrible.  My strongest recollection of this computer was writing a paper for junior English, going to print it and discovering pages and pages of crazy figures (not my paper!).  I fretted, prayed and pounded the computer all night.  Still, no paper.  Finally, at 5:30 a.m., I looked one more time and there it was; a thing of beauty.  I wrote it out by hand and took it to the typist.  I didn’t need anymore convincing to buy a new computer shortly after.  We even renovated our kitchen to include a computer station so I could work while the children did their homework. 
The Future is Today
Fast forward.  I could not live without my computer.  I do all my work on the computer, whether I am word processing or posting newsletters to School Zone for my parents.  I have created surveys online to collect parent input and have just gone through a process to update our school website (which I have to maintain).  I know the pandemonium that exists if the server is down at school and we cannot access our email or the internet.  We rely heavily on the internet to present material to students or on our computers to send photocopies to the printer via the server or to check our email. Personally, I shop on EBay regularly and recently bought several items for my son’s wedding online.  I have purchased items on Kijiji and posted items on the same.  I do all of my banking online and more recently since getting an IPhone, do my banking on my phone.  I arrange all of my travel using an online service and recently subscribed to a fantastic service to get alerts regarding great deals for travel through Twitter. 

Speaking of my phone, since changing to a smart phone, I am not sure how I lived without it.  I had a cell phone as soon as they were available because it was necessary to be able to communicate with my husband as we went separate ways driving our five boys to their various activities, but my IPhone offers so many more opportunities.  I do my banking, arrange travel, and check my email as needed when I have my morning coffee.  I can write or speak notes to myself to help me remember important things that my over-full brain would otherwise forget.  I have apps that will entertain my grandchildren when needed.  I have all of my contacts at my fingerprints.  I can text or skype my youngest son who is going to school in Buffalo, New York.  It is an amazing environment that keeps me connected. But maybe too connected?  Sometimes, my husband says I am addicted to my phone and he may be right.  I check it regularly.  I play Soduko and Words with Friends.  I text.  I look up information on the internet if I am curious.  I charge it on my night table in case a staff member needs to call and let me know she will not be in due to illness.  My phone is always with me. 

While I could not live without my computer or my phone, I still enjoy sitting down with a good book.  I have not graduated to an e-reader, but have thought about it.  I have researched which e-reader would be best and cost-effective, but I still like the feel of holding a real book.  I still like to read hard copies of papers, articles and I am guilty of printing off my assignments even for this course.  While I am not quite used to reading everything on the screen, I resisted the temptation to print off my last assignment and accompanying comments.  To date, the only thing I read regularly online is information from the internet.  I am comfortable searching for information that I can use with my staff to support our goals.  Even so, I print off material for my staff because I know they will read it then.  If I send a link only, chances are the email will be deleted.

What is Next?
I know there is so much more I have to learn. This week I played with Animoto and created a short video of this journey with technology.  It is rough product and it took me about six hours to produce, but I was very proud of my accomplishment and have shared this fantastic tool with several teachers who are going to try it with their students.  I think that is progress! If I can learn and share my learning, and that will inspire others to explore then my journey with technology which can be trying and difficult at times is worth it.  And so the journey continues. . .

My Animoto video

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