Friday, February 6, 2009

Keeping the Brain -- And the Spirit -- Alive

February 6, 2009

Last Saturday I went to the NICE (Northern Illinois Computing Educators) Mini-Conference. I had not gone for the last several years. Somehow the date never worked just right. This year I made sure that it would work. What a good decision that was! It was so good to see colleagues and friends I had not seen for some time. Exciting to hear what they are doing and technology tool integration in classrooms is moving forward in such exiting ways. There was time to hear from former students and what they are doing in their schools and their impact in their own school cultures.
There were several new tools I wanted to see demonstrated and hear explained. Have I mentioned I am a visual and auditory learner? ;-) For about a year I have been struggling with the goal of learning Google Earth. My friend, colleague and fellow ADE, Jerome Burg, has done such wonderful work with his GoogleLit Trips that I am encouraged to keep trying! So off I went and had a chance to learn and play a bit more with this incredible tool in a semi-structured way. Then to learn about Moodle , a free tool for creating online courses. Among other things this was a session that made me think about how far we have come since the early versions of Blackboard, let alone WebCT . In those days online learning was a very narrowly viewed opportunity, following up on correspondence courses. Now online learning comes in so many flavors and at so many levels.
Driving home I thought how lucky I have been.... being there at the almost beginning, at least in education, of being able to watch the uses and tools grow. I have seen the focus step being on "the computer" but on how it can be a tool for almost all members of society, how our communication with each other has changed, how our ability to work together using the collaboration tools that now exist and were unheard of in the mid-80s. I smiled thinking of how many of today's leaders who work to improve the use of technology tools in teaching and learning have never heard of, let alone seen, the Commodore PET80. the first computer in my school. It used a 4K mini-cassette for programming. What a long way we have come!! What a wonderful day!!! Thanks, NICE, you did a great job. AND I even won a raffle prize.

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