An Early Interest in EdTech….
Job hunting makes you think a lot about yourself, your experience, and your goals, as well as your past. I, not so long ago, accepted a new position in the Educational Technology field. The process of job hunting and getting settled in my new position has made me think a lot about how I became interested in Educational Technology. Many people want to know why I chose this field.
In short, I had great professors at Ithaca College that defined and highlighted the positive implications instructional design and Ed Tech can have on corporations and education. But thinking more deeply about my past, my first infatuation with Educational Technology came in high school. As a junior, I enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. My high school had a small student body and a small quantity of faculty members. To give students AP offerings, some of the courses were conducted via Distance Learning.
I walked into my first AP class in the basement of the school, near the cafeteria, technology labs, and football weight room. A corner of the school I seldom frequented. I expected the typical classroom layout with a teacher at the front of the room and chalkboard from which students can transcribe notes. I was mistaken.
In front of the ten student tables was a wall of televisions. A camera focused on us, displaying our images on one of the screens. On two other screens were classes filled with students we didn’t recognize. And on yet a fourth television, a man stood at a podium. This man was to be our United States History teacher for the year. He was located in a school district 45 miles from my classroom. He was teaching in front of one of the other groups of students displayed on the television. The third class was located even further away from my high school, 70 miles away. Remarkably, I recognized one of the girls as an opponent field hockey player.
The three classes from three different school districts had synchronous (in-real time) class sessions together for the entire year. The teacher used a Document Camera (similar to an over-head projector, it uses a camera), PowerPoint and streamed videos as instructional aids. I was enthralled with the fact that I could take an advanced course even though our school could not supply us with an in-person teacher.
Thinking even further back, I realized that Educational Technology even impacted me as a young girl. My younger brother was born legally blind (he can see, but not well). To assist him in his education, he was provided a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) to help enlarge his papers and books on the television. Yes, this is the same technology used for Security purposes. He simply slid the paper under a camera which projected it on a television. The television had several adjustments for enlarging the text or changing the contrast of the color to help facilitate easier reading for the visually impaired. Although this CCTV was beneficial to my brother, I think I was more intrigued with it than he. I took every opportunity I could get to play with it. Who knew my passion for exploring new learning tools would start at such an early age?