Coming from a small school that served as the K-12 school for three communities and only had 150 students at most, I found my experience with technology in my education was very minimal.
Believe it or not, my school didn’t even have high-speed internet until I hit eleventh grade (2006), and, as I recall, more often than not there was many problems with it. Once I hit grade twelve, and all the bugs were worked out, we weren’t really allowed to use it for personal use or our own interests. The only times I remember really using it was to look up some information for the odd project or paper here and there. To be quite honest, I didn’t really even know how to research, which I found later to be a huge disadvantage when entering the world of post secondary education. Even to this day, at my home, in the heart of my home town we cannot get high speed, no matter how badly we want it. To me this doesn’t seem fair to students who are or were in my shoes. How can I be expected to come to university ready to tackle the hardest research assignments I could ever imagine without a clue as to how to even look anything up through Google?
This made me think; how did we research and do our projects before the internet? Thinking back, we were always encouraged to use the outdated encyclopaedias and pick from the scarce selection that was our library. I must admit, these skills are hard to put a price on, but how effective are they if the information being used is outdated or now irrelevant?
I also remember that we had TV’s we used every once in a while to watch some sort of educational video. I’m not sure how effective these videos were at the best of times since most were created before I was even born. Using a resource like YouTube would be much more effective than outdated VHS videos. After recently learning about how quickly new information is being created in my ECMP class, I think a resource like this is essential in classrooms. For example, watching environmental videos that don’t even acknowledge Global Warming is crazy. Whether you agree with the Global Warming theory or not, it’s here and impacting out world immensely. Students need to be aware of current issues like Global Warming and how they are affecting the world. Otherwise, who knows how far behind their peers they could be.
On the topic of outdated materials, text books from the nineties are old. There’s not a nice way to put it. Why not use up to date materials which can be found from trusted resources on the internet. Yes, the base knowledge in this textbooks likely hasn’t changed too much over the past 2 decades, but perhaps the way they are presented has been upgraded and now easier to comprehend for students. Why should our future leaders be denied this privilege? I think the mentality of creating a better world for our children and grandchildren should also apply to the classroom they spend most of their childhoods in. Our students need to be up to date with the newest technologies and the newest knowledge for them to be able to compete in this always changing, ultra competitive society we live in today.
Although I didn’t have the best experience with technology in my secondary schooling career I have only optimism for the future. Why? I took my Calculus class over TV correspondence. Without this option, I would have never had the chance to even take Calculus and I wouldn’t be where I am today. The internet and distance education is giving hope to small rural schools that, unfortunately, don’t have the resources they need to compete with schools in large centers with more resources. The internet is an endless array of information and can connect people from across the world. I hope schools begin, if they haven’t already, and continue, to use the incredible technology at their fingertips. Without it, our students will be left behind in the dust.