From VCR cart to real-time collaboration: How classrooms have evolved


Teaching | Thursday, October 3, 2013

From VCR cart to real-time collaboration: How classrooms have evolved

The projector cart

Although this one wasn’t mine, this projector cart is very similar to one I had. It was my first step into educational technology. Much has evolved since then. (flickr / The Eggplant)

A “How did the day go?” to a substitute teacher the other day reminded me how fast education is changing.

The sub was a retiree who left teaching in 2004, the same year I started teaching.

I had just left her sub plans that included Today’s Meet, Weebly and Google Docs.

“We didn’t have technology like this when I retired,” she told me. “We had some, but it wasn’t like this.”

She’s right. Times have changed. Quickly.

And that made me reflect on how far education and technology has come in the last 10 years, in my classroom and overall.

For me, it started with very meager beginnings.

In my first teaching job, there was a decrepit desktop computer in my classroom. It was mostly for checking e-mail, which was still a newer concept to much of the teaching staff at the time. It had no connection to a projector because the only projector in my room showed overhead transparencies.

My first classroom was very technologically simple, but I loved technology and saw its power. I had high hopes.

Next was the “multimedia cart.” I wanted to show videos from VHS tapes and DVDs to get my students excited about Spanish. (I know, not very high up the SAMR educational technology ladder. But we’re getting there.) A colleague near retirement had an LCD projector he had plans to use that didn’t really materialize.

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“Do you want it?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” I said. I was shocked that he didn’t. I took it to my room and hooked it up before he could reconsider.

The cart for the overhead projector held all my technology gadgets I had gathered — projector, VCR, DVD player. When our prehistoric desktop computers were replaced with laptops, I was finally able to connect my computer to the projector.

These were also the days when students were limited to using Microsoft Office programs to type papers and make PowerPoints on their own computers.

Times have changed.

Today, the technology focus in my classroom isn’t on what I can do, but what my students can do. 

Today, my students …

Much of this was impossible when I started teaching almost 10 years ago. 

Really, much of it was impossible only a few years ago.

This chance conversation with the sub reminded me of something very important:

Our students aren’t the only ones who are supposed to become lifelong learners.

When we quit learning and adapting, we miss out on great innovations because we don’t know they’re there.

Our creativity atrophies like a muscle that isn’t being exercised.

For our students’ sake, we have to keep reinventing ourselves and our classrooms. For our own sake.

Times are changing. We should change, too.

How have times changed for you? Share your education/technology evolution story in a comment below!

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  • Lisa Dittlof says:

    I have learned how to use a promethean board and flip charts now and also have integrated iPADs in the music classroom a few times as well. I can also show short video clips (like on YouTube) of music from around the world or even instruments and bring those topics more to life on the promethean board screen.

    I know I have a very long way to go of being more tech savy, but I LOVE technology and I LOVE learning about new things everyday. 🙂

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