Sunday, September 14, 2014

Today's Digital Shift: Touch Tech Generation

In 2004, only 10 years ago, I started a career teaching information/computer/office technology, to adults. My students ranged in age from 18-62, many of my students were entering my classroom because they had never touched a computer. 

For me as a student in high school in the 1990s I worked in a world of keyboard/DOS commands and learned word processing for the first time on an actual word processor. After taking a typing class on the typewriter of course! My printouts came out of a dot matrix printer and I was "computer savvy". Our first home computer was purchased in the mid 90s and as a computer information student in college we used Windows 3.0 and Word Perfect until Windows 95 was released.  That's when my use of a computer transformed from the keyboard to the mouse.

So back to my 2004 I'm trying to teach people how to create documents, maintain spreadsheet data, and update databases. I'm showing them that while they've been working in factories there is a world called the wide web and information is available on the Internet. While teaching classes I start to notice not only do we need to teach students how to type I need to teach them how to use the mouse, how to click and drag, and to highlight. Throughout the next 3 years I watched my students change, not the people so much but their abilities to already do the things I was teaching. My courses changed my students got younger and the digital divide was evaporating. I was able to teach desktop publishing from day one not how to use the mouse. 

Not only were my students savvy but my kids were too. Daughters born in 1996 and 2002 were able to maneuver computing tasks quickly however in depth knowledge of the the system was debatable. When I made the choice to leave the college and adult workforce development classrooms it was at a point I noticed that students were coming to me with more computer knowledge and less at the same time. They could send an email but didn't know what a network was, they could mail an attachment but weren't ever really sure where they saved it and if you said operating system they said, "what?" 

I entered new classrooms with students clicking and dragging and highlighting. Yes! And by students I mean kids 7-12 years old. Last year I took a new job as computer techology teacher in a  small rural district on year-one of a four-year rollout of one-to-one techonology in the high school, 2 computer labs and laptops AND Chromebook carts in at least 3 classrooms and 3 new carts this year. These kids have technology at their fingertips and they know how to maneuver it for access to information, online textbooks, Google Drive, and in preparation for PARCC testing. I just need to keep up with the tech, these kids just keep getting smarter.

I should have known my job was going to take another turn  back in 2008 when my adult students' cell phone upgrades now included the iPhone first released in 2007, and by 2010 my daughters NEEDED an iPod touch to survive #21stCenturyProblems. By 2010 the iPad was released so I at least needed to keep up on this iTouch techology if I were going to continue calling myself a technology teacher so by 2011 my girls had iPod touches (without cameras) I'm so mean! And finally I got an iPhone 4 in 2013 after the release of the 5.( It's cheaper that way.) While other schools are bringing iDevices to their classrooms I've conciously decided my students are ahead of the curve, they are ready and knowledgable. As I was focused on teaching students to understand the tech they were using, racing with middle school students to understand Twitter and what they're watching on YouTube, and how to be safe I realized I missed something. 

This year's kindergarten class came in and acted like the computer lab was foreign. Most of them didn't know how to use the mouse. Was I going backwards? What's wrong with these kids? That's when I realized. This year's kindergarten class was born in 2008-2009. This year's class all raised their hand that they either had a touch device or a family member had one they use. Five years olds who are familiar with Kindle Fire, and have their mom's old iPhone 4? (Humph! That's my NEW phone!) 

The Touch Tech generation is upon me and my classroom and now I have to shift what I'm teaching again. It's exciting but what do I do; teach them what we have in the lab or build a lab around what they already know how to use? #digitalshift #TouchTechGeneration