I have a special treat for you today–a bit of history, compliments of a dear efriend, Janet Abercrombie of Expat Educator. Janet teaches math, but in a refreshingly nontraditional manner. She has given me countless ideas for integrating tech into math (or ‘maths’ as they say outside the US).
She just finished up a teaching gig in Hong Kong and is moving to Australia. Through her, I gain insight into the worldwide educational world, something I could never do on my own. But Janet shares her experiences with everyone who visits her blog, including the differences in spelling around the planet, which I’ve left unchanged.
Today, it’s the history of tech. Most of you are too young to have used this equipment, but I can verify: It’s all true:
I recently worked in a school with a Tech Museum. Recognise any of the items in the pictures below?
When I look at this wall of old gadgets, I am taken back to my first practicum teaching assignment – the slightly damp, purple-blue ditto copies that emerged with a toxic smell second only to rubber cement.
Technology has changed tremendously since the ditto machine. As you read, ask yourself this: At what point in time did classroom instruction need to change with the emerging technology?
For a little New Year’s fun, this post includes early tech trivia questions that you can answer in the comment box.
Tech Integration Phase 1: Pre-90s
Turntables (record players): Record turntables were certainly not in every classroom, but you could check them out from the tech library to use in class. The use of the record player was dependent upon the variety of vinyls in the school library or the teacher’s ability to purchase classroom-appropriate materials. One of the major disadvantages of the turntable was the fear of album scratches or breaks. I suspect that few teachers allowed students to handle the records.
Cassette tapes and players: If you were lucky enough to get a cassette tape player in your classroom, young children could be trusted to touch the equipment. The cassette tapes were far more portable than vinyl records and they weren’t easily destroyed. Most classrooms had a cassette player like the model on the left – while teenagers from affluent families might be seen walking down the street with a large boom-box balanced on their shoulders.
For tech integration, students might present a report on a popular rock group and play a song from the collection. My report on Huey Lewis and the News earned a B because I spent time rewinding and fast-forwarding to find the correct song. Who knew I was expected to do that before the presentation??? We could also make audio-recordings of reading fluency or practice speaking skills.
Early Apple Computers: The Apple IIe was a big deal. A Middle School classroom might have one or two of these machines in the back corner of the classroom. Students worked through “Apple Presents Apple” and could make pictures by plugging in BASIC ‘plot’ and ‘hplot’ commands. Even more amazing, work could be saved provided a magnetised paper clip didn’t get too close to the floppy disks. The Appleworks word processing program allowed students to not have to remember all the Word Perfect Function Keys. Trivia Question 1: Can you name all Word Perfect function keys?