Trailing Forward

When I was in 6th grade the first computers were wheeled into our classroom. They were basically old black-and-white TV’s wired up to clunky keyboards. Honestly, it just seemed like an oddity back then. I remember being paired-off in groups of 2 and when your turn came up you could “play” the floppy disc version of “The Oregon Trail.” Anyone remember that? What I remember about all of this early experience with stepping into the high-tech world was a feeling of disconnection—how does this relate to anything else I am doing? How does this relate to my growing collections of pop music (Pat Benatar, Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, ABC…oh, those were the days, huh?)? How does this relate to figuring out what life is going to be like when we move to the “big school” in 8th grade? How does this relate to all the composition books filled with diagramed sentences and history notes? Well, it just didn’t—for me at least. What has clicked for me as I’ve done a little reminiscing about those early tech days is that there was so little instruction involved. The teachers were learning (or not) the technology right along with us—but often not sharing the “meaning” or further applications of it. Sitting in front of a black and white screen and being told that this is the wave of the future just didn’t mean much to me then—hand me my walkman…now that had meaning!
That was then.
And now…now I am writing my 23rd thing blog about my Learning 2.0 experience. I’m not sitting behind a 200 pound computer, but working from a laptop in my living room. I’m not dependent on a teacher or anyone really to provide me an instruction manual. Within a few keystrokes I can find out virtually (now that is a word that wasn’t being used in the same context back in 6th grade) millions of pieces of information or connect with people I know or don’t know within seconds. And again, I find myself going back to the idea that it is the ideas behind each of these learning experiences—each of these tools—that have the roots, that have the power to move things forward, to create dialogue, communities, new ways of learning and exploring our world. Ultimately, we must move away from the monitor and the keyboard and tools that engaged us…but we take with us the ideas, the connections we’ve made.
So, now let me step into my 24th thing…what will that be? Not quite sure yet. But I’m sure it’s going to involve more work on the wiki I started last night…growing my del.icio.us account, blogging about our upcoming vacation to the far reaches of autumnal Vermont…
Boy, it’s a long way from the Oregon Trail…

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