Posted in CCCWrite, Reflective Writing Club

Reflective Writing Club: The Impact of Digital Technologies

img_6057Reflective Writing Club Prompt 3:

  • Compare your current professional experiences with your professional experiences at the beginning of your career.
  • Discuss how digital technologies have impacted what you do professionally and how you do it.
  • Has your professional identity shifted at all as a result of the emergence of digital technologies? What about who you interact with and how you interact with them?

I became an educator in 2000 and have worked for the same school district for my entire career thus far. When I reflect on my professional experiences through the lens of digital technologies, the beginning of my career is vastly different than my more recent experiences.

One major difference that jumps to mind at the moment is the entire job hunting process. I recall having to fill out paper applications for a teaching job. Edjoin is used pretty extensively in my area (though I have been told that is not necessarily the case nationwide) and the automation of the application process has made it much easier to apply for more positions in a variety of locations. The use of EdJoin in my search for an administrative position has made it incredibly easy to cast a wide net. Too wide as my husband would complain, he has gotten rather used to me working very close to our home.

In terms of the classroom, things have changed tremendously. As a student I had some access to emerging digital technology, but that was very limited. Those experiences with technology are some of my most fond school memories. I even remember an instance where I had asked a teacher in upper elementary (somewhere between 4th and 6th grade) about using a computer she had in the back of the classroom. She wouldn’t let me for reasons I don’t exactly recall, but I do recall the machine was seldom (if ever) used. When I became a teacher myself decades later, it was surprising to see that not that much had changed. Instead of one or two machines in a room (if there was one at all) there was now 3 or 4…for classes of 20-30 students. There weren’t any computer labs yet so it was a real challenge to give students the exposure to digital technologies that I felt they needed.

My family had always been rather techie. We got our first family computer in 1992, though I had been exposed to computers for a few years already in school. I had been exposed a little to computers in upper elementary and even more so in intermediate school. I recall distinctly being enrolled in the one computer class they offered and working both with MS-DOS as well as Apple lle (which was nearly 5 year old technology at the time). My family moved just after intermediate school ended. It wasn’t particularly traumatizing for me, though like most kids I would have preferred we not move so I could go to high school with my friends.  My new high school was fine and they offered a computer class too, where I got to work with newer machines and the variety of productivity programs available at the time. I distinctly remember getting to make a flyer…for what I don’t recall, but it was a very enjoyable learning experience.

College took my use of technology to a whole new level. I recall how important it was for them to promote that they had multiple computer labs…some strictly Apple and some strictly Windows. It was during college that my parents got me my own machine…an all in one. The brand escapes me now, but I know I really wanted an Apple iMac and I think I may have gotten a Compaq (price likely the reason).

I feel like I have fallen down a nostalgic technology hole and am veering off topic. So let me refocus. College took my use of digital technologies to a whole new level. Emails and preparing my coursework digitally became the norm. Social media wasn’t huge back then…tho I did have a MySpace account before I had a Facebook account, but I think that came a bit later. (Note: MySpace was created in 2003 and I graduated from college in 1996.) Online applications weren’t huge yet so my job hunt once returning home from college was rather traditional. While I recognize this post is to do with professional identity through digital technologies, I have to acknowledge that I first began building a digital identity for myself via America Online. That experience was completely new and one many learned by doing. There weren’t all these handy sites explaining the importance of online safety and whatnot, though I found if you used your common sense you could stay out of trouble online. I didn’t truly begin to develop my professional online identity until I launched my own class website in 2005 (this one, though it looked much different back then) and got active with Discovery’s Educator Network. That was another point in my digital learning that greatly accelerated my understanding of digital technologies and how to use them effectively as an educator.

My professional identity is always evolving, thanks to digital technologies. I have more recently began to use my online professional identity to network with other educators across a variety of platforms. My biggest difficulty is keeping up with all of them and continuing meaningful conversations with everyone, but I doubt I am alone in that. With how easy digital technologies have made it to communicate globally, it is very easy to get swept away by the tide of information.

How have digital technologies impacted you?
Share with me in the comments below 🙂