Technology has evolved considerably in schoolsWORTHINGTON — How often in the process of raising our children have we used the phrase, “Back when I was in school.”
By: Diane Standafer, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — How often in the process of raising our children have we used the phrase, “Back when I was in school …” Along with that would be explanations of how things were when we were young, the good ’ol days, what we learned in school and how we went about learning it. Recently, we polled a few adults as to what they remember about the use of technology during the time they were students in school. The responses were as varied as the age of people that responded.
From the graduating classes of the 1960s, the responses ranged from their first introduction to a computer was when their son — 16 years later — bought his own Atari after saving all summer, and “ I was a medical transcriptionist by profession and gradually typewriters were replaced by computers. Since I already had some idea of how to use one, I was one of the first to get a computer” to “The first time we used a computer was when I was in 11th or 12th grade in the late ’60s.”
From the graduating classes of the 1970s, things started changing. It was mentioned that no one owned a home computer but they were appearing in the schools. When you were in 10th grade, you were allowed to take word processing on a manual typewriter complete with the return bar at the end of your sentence. If you made a mistype on your paper, you had the privilege of starting all over as backspace and delete were not yet born! The consensus was you felt very important being in the computer lab. Almost all assignments were written out in longhand, and if you happened to have a typewriter at home, you were considered rich and lucky. Chalkboards were still used every day and erasers still needed cleaning, which usually took place outside on the wall somewhere. Pencils were sharpened by hand crank only (no electric sharpeners yet!). In physics class, you had to use a slide rule to figure out the answers to your problems, but first you had to learn how to use the slide rule. We took classes learning shorthand to be quicker and more efficient in dictation for those secretarial positions in the job market. Our lunch tickets were punched with a hole punch, our library books had a pocket with a card we signed as a part of the checkout system and we used a card catalog to find that desired book’s location in the library. Dewey decimal was our friend. Our attendance for classes was all done with paper and pencil, and it was always someone’s job to take it to the office. Notes from classes were taken on note cards. Cell phones were unheard of for parent/child communication throughout the day. Everything went through the office.
From the graduating classes of the 1980s, we find that some teachers were being considered the “techies” if they could operate a computer at all. Not only were computers infiltrating the educational system, we were starting to recognize them as either a PC or Apple Macintosh. Terms like DOS, disk drive and monitor were becoming commonplace. Everyone’s favorite school program, Oregon Trail entered the picture and was a huge success. Students got to use computers during their study hall time if all their work was done. You had to sign up for a time, and you really didn’t want to have homework on that day or you lost your turn to sit in front of that tiny green monitor playing the educational Oregon Trail. The ever popular Bell & Howell filmstrip projectors were used in many classrooms, and students were taught to load the filmstrip for viewing. Now and then during recess, you got to watch reel to reel cartoon movies in the gym if the weather was bad. The risograph machine made our copies, and often they were called dittos.
The graduating classes of the 1990s tell us they thought many teachers were uncomfortable with using technology, and some took classes in which they felt they ended up teaching themselves using the technology available. The internet was just starting to get popular as a resource for research in high school but as students they were watched very carefully, as there were no filters or blocks in place to keep us from inappropriate websites. New vocabulary coming from the late ’90s and later included words like Yahoo, Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, Adobe Photoshop, etc.
Today we have yet another age of children in our schools. They won’t know what vinyl records are, or even what a phonograph is. They will never have the experience of watching a teacher trying to wind up those big world wall maps only to have it slip out of their hands and quickly roll up with a loud snap. However, with the speed of technology changes in today’s world, soon their stories will sound like some of those mentioned in this article.
They come home now and tell us they use SMART boards, Senteo systems, computers, and iTouches on a regular basis in the classrooms. We might nod and tell them how nice that is without having a clue what they are talking about. District 518 is excited about all we have to offer our students in the area of technology to enhance their educational experience. We have much more to investigate for future ways to supplement curriculum such as the use of social networking, Kindle-type readers, better online resources and even their cell phones. We invite you to stop in to your students’ school sometime soon, and see how “students of today” learn.
Diane Standafer is a network/database specialist with District 518.