Monday, July 20, 2015

Back to the Future Part II: Today's Technology Will Be the Worst Our Kids (and New Teachers) Know

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Continuing with the Back in Time and Back to the Future themed post from last week, I was thinking about something keynote speaker Tom Murray stated at our Minnetonka Summer Technology Institute on June 18 (#TonkaInstitute). During the keynote, Tom did a quick review of the newest and greatest technologies, showing images of mimeograph machines, Oregon Trail, Palm Pilots and more. On the slide pictured in a Tweet to the right, Tom showed the progression of cell phones over the years, he had the audience take out their own cell phones and hold them up. Then he pointed out that, "The tech in our hands now will eventually be the worst kids know."  The statement was both obvious and starling at the same time. 

What was the worst technology I would know as a teacher?  

This got me thinking.  What was the worst technology I had as a teacher which was the best at the time?  For me, it's the overhead projector. 

When I started teaching 20 years ago in Minnetonka-fourth grade in fall of 1995-I had an overhead projector in my classroom which I used constantly instead of a chalkboard. Remember those? Overhead marker ink on your palms every day from smears/erasing ink? By Sunday night most of it had washed off from the previous week of teaching and your hands looked pretty normal... 

If you're curious, the photo behind the frame is from a hike up
Oberg Mountain on Minnesota's North Shore during fall color season.
I have an old InstaFrame transparency holder in my office which I now use as a picture frame. (For younger readers, note that this is different than the current Instagram feature.) In a way this device and technology was like the first iteration of PowerPoint, allowing you to place different transparencies on the glass, held in place by the frame, and you could annotate on top of them while they were projected to the class. It just wasn't digital yet.

I've kept this InstaFrame in my office as a visual reminder of how things were when I started. Sometimes it's good to pause and reflect on just how far things have come in two decades of technology integration, and to think about where things may go in the future. As Tom said, "The tech in our hands now will eventually be the worst kids know." If iPhones and iPads are the worst technology our kids will know, and the worst tech our new teachers have in their careers, what changes will 20 years bring? Unless I can find that DeLorean again, I suppose I'll have to wait to see!

Watch a video overview of Minnetonka's use of technology here.

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