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My journey with technology

Watch Steve Lang discuss his evolving teaching experience using digital technologies
Thirty years ago when I first put my hands on a Commodore 64 computer, little did I know that technologies were going to change so much – and so rapidly. It’s amazing how far we have come in a relatively short time. From a teacher’s perspective, we can do a lot more with computers today than we’ve ever been able to before. Data on the original Commodore 64s was stored on cassette tapes. When floppy disks arrived, we were able to store resources like worksheets more efficiently. Today, word processing is probably the technology most widely used by teachers with access to computers. As a teacher, I know that shifting from a typewriter to word processor made my work a lot more efficient.
The arrival of printers also made our lives easier. For those of us who can remember, typing stencils on typewriters and then printing worksheets and exam papers using duplicating machines was a very arduous process. Data storage technologies like hard drives, CDs and DVDs also created new possibilities. We could suddenly delve into a new world of videos and images – in colour. I consider the data projector to be one of the most effective tools for shifting away from chalk and talk activities. It brought a new world into my classroom and, in the process, became a very helpful teaching tool. I thought the arrival of USBs was quite revolutionary. They enhanced the portability of data.
I could easily transport my work from school to home and to other venues and to other people. Like word processing, I felt that the email was a game changer. Whether for better or worse, it opened channels for communication – both personally and professionally. Gone were the days when one had to wait for the postmaster. Without any doubt though, it’s the internet that has changed the world forever. It has impacted on us in different ways. For me, I am fascinated by the fact that it presents me with so many opportunities to learn, unlearn and relearn ideas. What is fascinating, and also alarming, is considering where digital technologies will be in the next thirty years.
No matter the future, we should always be mindful of the fact that technologies are just tools. What we get out of them is how they are used. In educational settings, technologies on their own do not make a difference, teachers do.

My journey with technologies began more than 30 years ago when I started my teaching career in a high school. My first computer was a Commodore 64 – released in 1982. I was very excited! I saw this computer as a tool with the potential to impact on how teaching and learning occurred in my classroom.

We now have computers that are much more powerful, more affordable, and easier to move around. In just a few decades, processing speeds have increased from megahertz to gigahertz, memory has jumped from kilobytes to gigabytes, and displays have evolved in leaps and bounds. The potential impact on teaching and learning is greater than ever.

Watch the video to discover which technologies I considered to be game-changers in my classroom.

Describe the first ‘wow’ moment you remember when using technologies for teaching or learning.
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