Monday, July 13, 2015

Back to the Future Part I: 2005 Technology Staff Development Classes- the Beginning of Minnetonka's Digital Curriculum

I love the concept of time travel, whether it is a book or movie. Recently my wife and I watched Back to the Future and Back to the Future III to our kids, both really fun movies to see which our kids enjoyed. (Sorry, we're not Part II fans.)  And just a couple of days ago I saw a DeLorean drive by, so Doc and Marty were on my mind as I came across a sheet of paper from my past and wrote this. So...feel free to press play on Back in Time by Huey Lewis and the News (one of my favorite pop 80's bands) as you read the rest of this:

I started working as an elementary fourth and fifth grade teacher in Minnetonka 20 years ago. After four years at elementary, I moved to one of our middle schools and spent four years teaching there. Then, twelve years ago I was hired as our District's first Technology Integration Specialist. We had just started with SMARTBoards in our classrooms back in 2002. As one of the first teachers in Minnetonka who had used a SMARTBoard and then left the classroom to train colleagues, I spent a lot of time helping colleagues with SMART Notebook software and learning to add technology to their lessons. We actually didn't have a lot of projectors in classrooms at the time, so when we added SMARTBoards it was also the first time those teachers had the opportunity to project their computer, a PowerPoint, or display an Internet page for their students. Over the next five years or so, we added an interactive whiteboard, projector, and sound field to all of our 600+ classrooms. Some more videos about that can be found hereThis began the digitizing of our curriculum. 

In about 2004 or 2005 I started offering technology training to teachers in August prior to the start of the school year. I didn't think I had any record of those earliest classes that until my wife found the sheet of paper pictured below at home in a stack of recycled/scrap paper now used by our kids for coloring:  

Technology tools in 2005 for our teachers were SMARTBoards, Inspiration and Kidspiration Concept Mapping Software, Blackboard, Windows Movie Maker (with digital cameras using a 3.5" floppy disk), and United Streaming videos. It's pretty amazing to think back and reflect on how far things have come. For example, we often forget how much work it was in 2005 to make a digital movie and take for granted that we can just do this all on our phones now. 

It is also good to see that even ten years ago, we were focusing on more than just the tech tool itself. In the descriptions on the page, there are phrases like use "technology to foster inquiry in student learning", encouraging teachers to have students use technology for projects such as a "narrated movie or animated short video," and to use technology to "deepen students' understanding," all things we are still working on today. The tools have certainly changed but the underlying principals of technology integration and staff development have not.

It will be fun to see what the future holds in regards to technology staff development. Another ten years from now, I would hope we are still working on fostering inquiry, having students use technology, and deepening understanding. Maybe if I was a bigger Part II fan I could just go with Marty and visit the future today. Nah, I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

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