My daughter turned 17 years old today (Dec. 31). She celebrated by inviting a select group of friends to a “birthday get together” including lunch and a movie. How did she get her friends together? A few days ago, she posted an “event invitation” on MySpace to just this group of friends. All of the friends responded via MySpace. She smiled this morning as she found “Happy Birthday” wishes via MySpace comments from 20 of her “closest” friends. Here is the picture of the group earlier today. (My daughter is fourth from the right in the green, standing in the back).
I can’t help but reflect on my life when she was born. I lugged a VHS camera to the hospital to document all of the events of the birth (every year, I ask her if she would like to have her friends view it – of course, I get a strong, “No, Dad!”). When she was born, we called relatives via the pay phone in the hospital. It took several days to have “still pictures” developed. No one in the school where I taught fifth grade was even thinking about the idea of email or the World Wide Web. I was one of the few in the school who had an Apple IIe computer with a dot matrix printer. My technology excitement was borrowing cool computer graphics via 6 1/2 inch floppy disks from a few other “tech savvy” teachers to use on my next weekly classroom newsletter. At home, cable TV was a distant thought. The birth announcement was a printed card sent out with a photograph and sent out via snail mail (another word never muttered in those days). Congratulations cards arrived via the mail over the next month.
THE NEW YEAR’S HOPE
Quite a contrast from 1989 to 2006 when I’m posting this just a few hours after my daughter’s birthday gathering. Unfortunately, our schools look very much the same as they did in 1989 and teachers teach in much the same way. Among other things, I think it is the “standardized test” movement that slowed much of the innovation in public education and is one reason that education is still being delivered in the same way (with minimum use of technology or the Web for teaching). However, I believe we are seeing the pendulum slowly swing back so that teaching can once again become more innovative and not just focused on the end of the year test. My hope for 2007 is that we will see a greater transformation by teachers nationwide in the use of the Web in their teaching (not just as a place to post assignments or grades). Students already utilize the Web on a daily basis for their own individualized, customized learning.
Wishing all of us a prosperous and transformational New Year!