Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Two computers, four decades in between!

Apple ][MacBook Pro

Forty years ago this week in 1981, I bought my first personal computer (an Apple ][, the motherboard now converted into a clock). Today, I use a year-old MacBook Pro (16 GB RAM, 1TB SSD). Over these four decades, I have witnessed major changes in personal computing: my first major learning experience was teaching myself VisiCalc which inspired my 1991 dissertation research on adult self-directed learning and Personal Computer competency. From my eight years in the Fairbanks School District, to the decade at the University of Alaska Anchorage, to my four years on a federal grant helping teacher educators implement electronic portfolios, and my research with high school students, I have witnessed massive change and participated in my own limited way.

From computer hardware/software, including Smartphones, to the Internet, to teaching/learning strategies, the last 40 years have had a profound impact on our personal and professional lives. During the last year, because of the pandemic, I celebrated Holiday meals with family on Zoom, witnessed my school-age grandchildren learning online with laptops (and a Chromebook) and both my adult granddaughters working with online universities to earn teaching credentials. Marking this 40th anniversary of my personal involvement in the information revolution has given me an opportunity to reflect on the larger societal changes in teaching/learning and everyday life. (My iPhone never leaves my side!)
Every ten years I have marked major changes in both my personal and professional life. What will the next ten years bring? Will my optimistic view prevail? Will we be able to address the dark side of the Web? Of AI? I have chosen to see the positive changes, but recognize the negative impacts as well. I pray that the common good succeeds.