Friday, June 06, 2008

Technology Marches On

I was pretty excited when, maybe 10 years ago, I got placed in a room with a whiteboard. For some reason, I found it easier to write, and my handwriting became far more legible. It was a miracle, I thought, and I was really pleased.

But a neighboring teacher complained of an allergy to chalk dust or something (despite having used it without incident for many years), and I was relegated back to an ordinary blackboard.

The next semester I got the whiteboard again, but got bounced into a half-classroom where the kids were sitting on top of one another. After a litany of complaints (from me), we moved into a trailer. I missed the whiteboard, but at a meeting, we were shown the wonders of computers. You could project the images onto the screen without any board at all, and share documents or Power Point presentations with your classes. It was amazing.

Alas, it was for carefully selected classrooms, and certainly not the trailers. It was too risky to bring them out there. You could send the kids out there, but not those costly computers.

The next year there was a lot of talk about smartboards. They were amazing, and everyone needed to have them, but few did. I thought perhaps they could fly. Maybe they can. Who knows? I've never actually seen one.

Now, there are these great little tablets that work with projectors, and they're better than smartboards. They can project all kinds of things onto the wall. They remember everything, and you can do everything with them. They surf the net, and can find just about everything you need to know about anything. If you're in Chicago, you can still put notes on your classroom screen.

I'll be retired by the time they hit the trailers. Perhaps soon after that people will sing the praises of the blackboard, how all you need is chalk and an eraser, and how simple and flexible they are. On that day, they'll remove the blackboards from trailers and reinstall them in the classrooms that now have computers, or whatever it is they have this week.
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