I've been thinking a lot lately about the people who have influenced my life in terms of computer technology. My family didn't get our first computer until I was in Grade 7. Fortunately I had some computer access at school prior to that. When I was in Fourth Grade I had a brilliantly techno-literate teacher. He must have been one of the leaders in the field at the time. The year was 1988 and the teacher's name was Don Nethercott. I don't know what he is doing now, but would love to thank him for opening my eyes to the world of technology. If only I can do the same for the children that I teach. He seemed to be looking for ways to integrate technology into his teaching. He found computer programs on dinosaurs for our unit of work. We played Carmen and Sandiego to find out about Geography. We learnt more about angles, direction and computer language with Logo.
1988 was also the year when the National Science and Technology Centre opened in Canberra. In it's early days, they held a special event on Communication. I don't remember all the details, after all, I was only 10 at the time. Google tells me that the building was a gift from Japan. So, for this special event my teacher took me and a few classmates to the National Science and Technology Centre where we used computers to 'chat' with people in various places around Australia. We sent a fax to our school. We went back in the evening to do a video conference with children in a school in Japan. It was an amazing experience, and unlike anything I'd do with computers for the next 10 years!
I did some computer courses and learnt how to type (on old typewriters) when I was in grades 7-10. My next real exposure to computers was at university. My peers and I got hooked on Kangachat, an online chatroom. This was the first time I had ever used the world wide web. Since then, it has been a part of my life, slowly taking over bit by bit...
So, I feel inspired by my history. My fourth grade teacher went out on a limb to explore technology in the classroom. He tried things that most teachers were not yet ready for. Let's be inspired by this and push technology to the limits with our classes. Don't just wait for someone else to do it.