Being born in 1995 definitely has its advantages. I feel that I was able to benefit from growing up along side technology. In a way, I got to have the best of “both worlds” as technology became more and more popular as I grew up, but I also got to experience a childhood with limited technology and mostly free from social media.
Growing up, technology for me during my elementary years was quite limited. My mom worked for Sasktel so she also had one of the old giant block cell phones which I was never allowed to use. We also had a big box tv and VCR. I was fortunate enough to also have a Nintendo (NES) as well as eventually a GameCube and Wii. Ipods were also a new thing that became popular and replaced the ever loved Walkman. When I was in older elementary, we got a desktop computer at home. I spent all of my time playing The Sims. Towards the end of grade 8, I got my first cellphone. It had T9 and no internet.
As for school, our use of technology in the classroom was very limited. For the most part, our library books were signed out on the little cards and our teachers used the old style overhead projector with transparencies. We would have access to a large tv rolled in on a cart a few times a month. As I hit the middle grades (4-8), we received desktop computers in the classrooms. Each class had 4 computers. Teachers would have to send students to knock on another room’s door and ask to use the computers. Thinking back it was kind of weird because you would be in another classroom and your teacher would never really come by to check on you, mostly likely in fear of disrupting the class you were working in. Aside from this, I would say most of my elementary years were fairly technology free, especially at school.
High school was quite different than elementary. At this point, we were beginning to use technology in the classroom a lot more. We had entire computer labs that could be booked out for a whole class to use at the same time. There were even scantron tests that could be used by teachers to have a machine correct the answers. Midway through my high school years, things advanced quickly. Teachers began to get electric projectors that could plug into their computers (usually still on a cart), smart boards began to appear in classrooms, and carts of laptops could be brought in instead of going to the computer lab. Research became easier and quicker, and we were able to type more good copies of work. Educational websites and games for learning/reviewing concepts became more popular in the classroom. We also had access to new things like SparkNotes which made learning Shakespeare much easier.
As for technology outside of school, social media became more popular. I traded in my old phone for a Blackberry with an internet plan. I made my first Facebook account, then soon an Instagram, and eventually Snapchat. Twitter and Tumblr were also quite popular when I was in high school. We used social media frequently. Laptops and tablets became the norm for many of us. Towards the end of my high school years, Iphones eventually took over and Blackberry became a thing of the past for us. We were always easily connected, no longer needing to sit on the family computer or use the landline in front of our parents to talk to each other.
Completing my undergrad was very similar to high school, technology wise at least. I had a personal laptop, as well as a tablet that I could use for my studies (although I generally still prefer pen and paper for note taking haha). I learned how to find resources in the Archer library, but always found it easier to use the online database. UR Courses was fairly simple to learn. I wrote all of my papers on the computer, which was nice. I only took one online class in my entire 5 years of undergrad, and it was in Quebec. It was a self paced class so we didn’t even need to use anything like Zoom to meet up. However, since COVID I have been taking all of my graduate classes online. I find that online classes also fit better into my schedule since I do not have to spend so much time driving across town. I feel that the online classes aren’t really missing anything compared to the in person option. I would say that technology has definitely made my education experience easier (especially when I compare it to my mom’s!).
As a present day teacher, I feel that technology is a huge part of my day. I use my laptop frequently, make photocopies often, and use my projector daily. We also have laptop carts at our school that we can book out to use with our classes at a 1-1 ratio which is really nice. I like to use them for typing good copies of things, teaching students how to research properly, as well as for educational games like math websites and Quizizz. All of our mark inputting, reports cards, and communication home is typically done with Edsby, an online platform. Technology for teaching also became very useful during the pandemic when we could use things like GoogleClassroom and Zoom to help facilitate learning from home. The hack we had in the spring really made me realized how reliant I am on technology at work and how difficult it can be to teach without it (we couldn’t even print!).
I always enjoy reflecting back on my childhood, especially in relation to technology and education. It’s crazy how different things were when I was growing up compared to how things are now for my students. Writing about these differences makes me think back to my ECI830 class and the debate on if social media is ruining childhood. For those of you who were not in the class, you can read my breakdown and thoughts on the topic here . It is definitely a complicated question, but where do you stand? Is technology and/or social media detriment to our student’s childhood today?