Digital Autobiography Brendan McGovern

My first personal recollection of using technology in the classroom was as a kindergartener. Our class would head down (single-file) to the computer lab where we would go over the basics of navigating the mid 90’s mac operating system. These early lessons focused more on getting students comfortable using a computer rather than integrating it into a lesson. My memories of these computer lab sessions is mostly devoted to time spent playing Oregon Trail, Number cruncher and Mavis Beacon.

Throughout my elementary school, educational movies were a true staple. As fifth graders studying the American Civil War our teacher, Mr. Genetti, showed us the made for TV classic Gettysburg. Maybe I remember this specific lesson because the movie spans over 4 hours and had to be watched over the course of multiple classes. But more than the movie I remember Mr. Genetti's soliloquy before the film started where he tried to impart onto us the horror of real war and repeatedly stressed that the actors who would die in the film were representative of real men.

One of my fondest experiences of elementary school was creating and playing make your own adventure games using Hyperstudio. Looking back, I'm not actually sure what hyperstudio is supposed to be used for. The interface has an MS paint look to it but there were many other features as well. My friends and I would create make your own adventure style games where users were given options and depending on which scenario they chose the game would play out differently. This was my first experience with a shared drive...

At a Christmas in the Mid to late 90's my grandmother bought our family our first computer. It was a beautiful gray Compaq that came ready to use with our new 56k Modem.

Shortly after our Compaq arrived, our elementary school ended up purchasing these...

I'll take off-grey anyday.

As a middle schooler, I was finally ready to learn the joys of Microsoft Office. Throughout 7th and 8th grade students would cycle through electives including one that was dedicated to basic computer literacy. In my memory we wasted days of lessons on things like PowerPoint transitions and sound effects.

My high school implemented a graduation requirement that was meant to show technical proficiency in a number of different computer programs but primarily centered around the Microsoft Office Suite. We were given a checklists of very specific requirements and had to submit projects we completed where the requirements were met. I think the original idea was that by the end of our four years we should have already been assigned and completed the vast majority of the requirements. We were allowed to submit assignments that we had previously completed for other courses as long as they met the requirements. This led to students needlessly editing old assignments from years before so they would include all the different beautiful chart formats offered by Excel.

My only experience with the vaunted SMART Board was as a senior in high school studying Calculus. For the most part, the teacher used the SMART Board the same way one would use a blackboard or whiteboard. The only difference in my mind was that sometimes inexplicably the SMART Board would stop responding and need to be restarted. Not a problem one runs into with a blackboard. The only positive use for the SMART Board that I can remember was for sketching graphs. Other than that the SMART Board sticks out most in my mind for the countless classes that were ended early so we could play a knock off Scrabble.

One of the assignments I remember most fondly from high school was assigned during a current events course I took as a senior. This was during the 2008 election primaries and we were randomly assigned a candidate and tasked with creating a political ad for them. In my memory the requirements of the commercials were minimal so when it came time to present there was a wide range of quality and tone. I think the commercial was an successful way to integrate technology in the classroom specifically because there were not hard and fast requirements

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