How technology ‘changed’ my (work) life

I have been listening to the audiobook version of How Starbucks Changed My Life by Michael Gates Gill. In this book, Michael, gets a new lease on life after being fired from his high-powered adverImage from: job. This life-change occurs, you guessed it, as an employee of Starbucks. Basically, Michael learns about who he really is and what is most important in life; something he couldn’t have done if he was still in his high stress job.

So, what does this have to do with me? While listening today, it dawned on me that technology had a similar effect on my life; well my work life for certain. About 12 years ago <choke>, I was in a rut professionally. I had taught the same grade in the same place for a number of years and was looking for something to energize my teaching — enter computers! I was excited by the possibilities for both my students and myself. As I began to use computers with my students, I saw an energy in them. They were excited about learning, able to challenge themselves whatever their level, and be self-directed in their learning. Students who had been in the ‘background’ had begun to fine success and in some cases emerge as leaders.

Now all of this didn’t happen overnight. The implementation of computers into my classroom started with simple word processing. But I was motivated to learn more about the potential of their use with students and understand the importance of technology in students’ lives. The move to integrate technology into my teaching and students’ learning also created a philosophical shift for me. Technology caused me to examine what I felt was most important for students and look at my teaching to see if I was meeting their needs. I hadn’t really thought about learning theory since college. Teaching for me, at that point, was about the curriculum and helping students to learn it.

Now, as a technology integration specialist, with a master’s degree in educational technology, I help other teachers feel that spark that I felt many years ago. I didn’t think I would ever step away from being a classroom teacher prior to my retirement date, but technology changed my life, my career, and now I attempt to change the professional lives of our district teachers. It’s not always easy, but very rewarding. I love when teachers share with me their pride in an accomplishment they have made, or remark “That was painless” as we complete a project with their students. And I love that technology has cemented me as a life-long learner.

How has technology changed your career? Your classroom? Your attitude/philosophy about teaching and your role in educating your students?


Podcast Apathy ~ What’s my problem?

I am struggling with why I am having a difficult time embracing podcasts. Many (many!) edtech folks I admire create, consume, and promote podcasting, yet I don’t feel the same enthusiasm. I’ve heard some good podcasts; loaded with info, catchy music, well-produced. I think that listening to audio isn’t my preferred learning style. I long for something more interactive. Listening to a podcast while driving or walking the dogs doesn’t work for me, either. I want to write down what I hear, access the sites mentioned, or contribute to a backchannel. Video podcasts seem to hold my attention better, but again, I want to stop them and browse the resources mentioned. And I just never seem to find a good time to watch them if they are longer than about 10 minutes.

Because of my apathy about listening to podcasts, I tend to shy away from having students create them. I do know how to create them easily with GarageBand, KidPix, etc. I just usually find another way for kids to express themselves with audio; like with a VoiceThread or recorded Keynote. I have heard some great student podcasts. Radio WillowWeb is still among the best. I just don’t see students or their parents sitting and listening to a 20 minute podcast about Native Americans or whatever.

What’s wrong with me?