Dog Years

Yesterday while at the gym, I listened to Wes Fryer’s podcast #237 on Unleashing the Power of One-to-One Computing, captured at the COSN 2008 conference in Washington last week. Members of the panel included the moderator: Leslie Wilson, President, One-to-One Institute; Chris Lehman, Principal, Science Leadership Academy, School District of Philadelphia; Dr. Rae Niles, former Director of Curriculum and Technology, Sedgwick Public Schools, USD 439, KS (Rae now works for Apple Computer); and Elaine Wrenn, Technology Coordinator, Echo Horizon School, CA. It is well worth the listen, with wonderful stories of the impact one-to-one initiatives are having on teaching and learning.

However, it was a side comment one of the panelists made that got me reflecting back on my own learning journey. She said “Computer years are faster than dog years…”

Springer Spaniel Napping

I no longer own a dog, but my buddy for years as my twin girls were growing up was a Springer Spaniel named Mickey. Of all the dogs I have owned, Mickey was my favorite. If I was ever down, he could cheer me up with one look. As the only two males in the house, we of course bonded! However, as my wife could attest, he could also find more mud puddles to waddle through than the law allows!

If one goes with the classic definition of one dog year is seven human years, then it is mind boggling to look back at where we were instructionally with technology 7 years ago. I had been teaching online for 5 years by that point, but I had just used Blackboard for the first time…and we faculty were debating whether to standardize on one LMS or continue our piecemeal approach using Blackboard, Jenzibar, and Lotus Notes Domino. Desire2Learn, Angel, and Moodle were still far in the future! I had just shifted from Windows 95 to Windows 2000 on my new Pentium III. The web was all one-way and only beginning to show us the possibilities. Student research was still library-driven, with the web used more to email and transfer files than for collaboration or knowledge creation. Few students had internet connections at home (and those were primarily dial-up) – most came on campus to do their “online” coursework.

Time Spiral by gadl

Even going back one year is interesting. In March of ’07, I had yet to begin social bookmarking, blogging, or Twittering…though in fairness, I have only been Twittering this week!). I had seen tag clouds but not paid much attention to them. I had not Jott-ed myself or my colleagues! I still use Blackboard (our institutional standard), but I now see it only as a gateway device. The past year has seen a huge upswing in collaborative tools in my online classes, such as Google Docs and wikis. This past year has seen my personal movement from “I” and “me” to “we” and “us”. It has been a movement from talking about life-long learning to living life-long learning, and it has made me a better teacher.

Shakespeare said:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day…

Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

Shakespeare never used Google Reader!

One thought on “Dog Years

  1. Interesting review of your personal use of technology.

    I recently watched an episode of a program called Technology Jones, which challenges specific individuals give up their current technologies and achieve their goals through the technology of some prior period. The woman I watched was a Hollywood casting agent who works very fast and efficiently through her laptop, cell phone, scanner, digital video camera, etc. to make connnections and cast actors. She accepted the challenge to roll back to the technolgies available in 1969. It was amazing how this challenge puts our contemporary lifestyles and expectations in perspective. The time and difficulty in doing her job increased exponentially. We can and do take so much for granted as we adopt the tools at our disposal in 2008. Alas, the cutting edge tools of today will be long forgotten all too soon as we find even more exciting and proficient ways to work and learn.

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