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Computer Wisdom

Technology in Schools: A Brief History

I have a special treat for you today–a bit of history, compliments of a dear efriend, Janet Abercrombie of Expat Educator. Janet teaches math, but in a refreshingly nontraditional manner. She has given me countless ideas for integrating tech into math (or ‘maths’ as they say outside the US).

She just finished up a teaching gig in Hong Kong and is moving to Australia. Through her, I gain insight into the worldwide educational world, something I could never do on my own. But Janet shares her experiences with everyoExpatEducatorTechMuseum1ne who visits ExpatEducatorTechMuseum2her blog, including the differences in spelling around the planet, which I’ve left unchanged.

Today, it’s the history of tech. Most of you are too young to have used this equipment, but I can verify: It’s all true:

I recently worked in a school with a Tech Museum. Recognise any of the items in the pictures below?

When I look at this wall of old gadgets, I am taken back to my first practicum teaching assignment – the slightly damp, purple-blue ditto copies that emerged with a toxic smell second only to rubber cement.

Technology has changed tremendously since the ditto machine. As you read, ask yourself this: At what point in time did classroom instruction need to change with the emerging technology?

For a little New Year’s fun, this post includes early tech trivia questions that you can answer in the comment box.


Tech Integration Phase 1: Pre-90s


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10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2012

top tenSince I started this blog forty-two months ago, I’ve had over 1 million visitors (most of them, this past year) to the 835 articles I’ve written on

integrating technology into the classroom. They may be about how to use wikis or blogs in the classroom or what I’ve learned from my students as we got through another tech week. I have regular features like Tech Tip Tuesdays, Dear Otto, and Weekend Websites. I post a lot of lesson plans that have worked for me and share my thoughts on other ideas that affect teachers trying to tech-ify their classrooms. It’s a fast changing world. I’m just trying to hang on and share the ride.It always surprises what my readers find to be the most provocative and least interesting. The latter is as likely to be a post I put heart and soul into, sure I was sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

A few side notes about my year:

  • The busiest month was September. In 2011, it was November.
  • The deadest month was June. In 2011, it was February.

Without further distraction, here they are–the Top Ten Hits and Misses of 2012:

Top Ten Hits


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Dr. Seuss–Techie Style

I think humor’s important, especially for communicating difficult, even intimidating topics. Like computer training. Here’s a poem I like:

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
and the bus is interrupted as a very last resort,
and the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
and your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash,
then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
but your packets want to tunnel on another protocol,
that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,
and you screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
'cause as sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk,
and the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk,
then you have to flash your memory, and you'll want to RAM your ROM.
Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom.

Copyright © Gene Ziegler


I couldn’t have said it better than my buddy, Gene.

–reprinted with permission Ask a Tech Teacher © 6-28-09

Categories: Computer Wisdom, Humor | 1 Comment

Life Wisdom From Your Computer #4: Hourglassing

Everyone who has used a computer understands the annoying, time-wasting hourglass. You’re trying to perform magic on a deadline and the computer screen pops up with an hourglass that lazily pours sand … for. Ever. You think it’ll continue until Harvard wins the Super Bowl

The computer moves on when it’s ready, with complete disregard for your frustration.

There’s a lesson here. Life includes predictable, spontaneous hourglassing. Patience is the key. We teach our kids that patience is a virtue, but we don’t embrace it as our own. Anger won’t get rid of the hourglass and stress won’t make it go faster. Sit down, relax, check your email if it takes too long.

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words – wait and hope” (Alexandre Dumas)

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Life Wisdom From Your Computer #3: Shortcuts

Don’t you love keyboard shortcuts? Instead of mouse clicking through all those steps to get something done, a quick Ctrl+I italicizes, or Ctrl+S to save. So much more efficient.

Life is like that. You can do it the long way or the short way. Often that means, learn from someone else’s experience. Don’t always feel you must reinvent the wheel. You’re not capitulating if you take the road more traveled.

  • Learn from your mistakes as well as other peoples
  • Accept advice from people you trust.
  • Don’t feel you have to go it alone. There are lots of friends and family, and sometimes new friends, who will help you get things right.
  • Go with your strengths. They have been honed by use. Your weaknesses, well, you never quite know how they’ll work out.

Having said all that, sometimes these shortcuts don’t work. At that point, try something else. One feature I love about Windows is it has multiple solutions to every problem–drop down menu, mousing, shortkeys, usually a few of each. Incorporate that into your life. If one solution doesn’t work for you, try another.

Now, go get ’em!

PS–Here’s a list of my favorite keyboard shortcuts. I can’t do without them.

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Life Wisdom From Your Computer #2: Your Processor Speed

Your processing speed is what it is. You can only think through problems and consider issues as fast as you do. No amount of wishing you were eidetic or lusting after those with a photographic memory will change your circumstances. Accept yourself for what you are. Revel in it. Own it. Enjoy your strong points and work around the weak ones.

Here’s something you may not know. No one is perfect and everyone has weaknesses. Successful people re-form arguments and situations to accommodate their strengths and ignore their weaknesses. You can too.

Who cares what your processing speed is if your hard drive is to die for?

Click here for more Life Wisdom from your computer.

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Life Wisdom From Your Computer #1: Consider RAM

Life is hard, but lessons are all around us. If you pay attention, you’ll do well. The trick is to take your lessons where you can find them. In my case, being a technology teacher, it’s from computers.

Here’s my first tip: Know when your RAM is full. (more…)

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