Thursday, May 31, 2012

The First Time I Used a Computer to Teach by Laura

The first time I ever used a computer to teach was in 1989.  I was a student teacher.   I was teaching evolution, and my soon-to- be husband, a scientist, was experimenting with a two year old taxonomy program called MacClade.

MacClade is a software program that helps evolutionary biologists make a type of family tree (called a clade) in order to analyze how organisms are related in evolutionary time.  I  thought that the program would help my students understand the concept that organisms demonstrate that they are related through shared characteristics inherited from a common ancestor.  This is an important concept in science, and it is also a slippery one to grasp.

If the school had a computer lab, I never saw it.  MacClade runs on the Apple operating system, so we carried my Mac SE into my classroom and set it up as a learning station. Students liked working with the program, and I don't recall their being focused on the computer itself, although they must have been to some extent. 

The memory hit me recently in the context of what it means to educate using technology.  In the days before 1:1 laptop programs-- in the days before laptops at all-- being able to use a computer in class was important.  It was not, though, an end in and of itself.  The Mac SE and the program were part of my class so that I could teach a difficult concept.  The learning drove the decision-- and the access to technology helped the learning a great deal.

1 comment:

  1. That's a really interesting story Laura. I found that technology helps me learn too. I found that a computer can make learning a whole lot easier and faster. I remember the first time I used a computer. I wanted to know something about the government when I was 6 I think. I asked my dad and he did not know so he took out this big black thing and opened it up and showed me Google. He showed me how to type something in and then search it. It made finding some information a lot easier. I had to read the answer so I got some reading practice too. Technology is great for learning.
    Shirley's 6th Grade