5 Ways Technology has Changed the Prep Classroom Since 1984

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5 Ways Technology has Changed the Classroom since 1984- A reflection by My Little Bookcase

In 1984, at just 4 years of age (so tiny!), I started MY first year of school. I wore an over-sized school dress and lop-sided pigtails, I got to know a whole class of strangers I had NEVER met before and I learned how to read within a Whole Language curriculum.

NOTE: CUTE PHOTO TO BE INSERTED HERE WHEN MUM FINALLY FINDS MY SCHOOL PHOTO. THERE IS A POLAROID PHOTO HOUSED SOMEWHERE IN HER PRE-DIGITAL SYSTEM OF BOXES (He He!)

So Cammy is back to school this week after a successful first term of school. Enthusiastic and eager about starting school, she spent last term asking me countless questions about my own school experience. It has been fun to reminisce and compare our experiences. I’m really quite surprised by how much the classroom has changed in 31 years.

First Day of School 2015. My Little Bookcase recounts changes in Prep classrooms since 1984

Delayed school-starting ages, transition programs, nurturing buddy systems and individual learning plans are changes I’m excited to see taking place. I’m also excited by the various technologies that have been introduced to schools and classrooms.

1. Interactive Whiteboards

My Prep teacher was incredibly talented when given a piece of chalk and a blackboard. She possessed skills teachers no longer need to master; just as students no longer need to master the skill of cleaning the blackboard duster. Nor do students need to crowd around the teacher trying to glimpse just a small section of the book she is reading to the class.

Instead many Australian children are blessed to have an interactive whiteboard installed in their classroom, allowing resources to be shared much more easily in whole-class sessions. Interactive whiteboards can be used in such a wide range of ways, but mostly I love that they invite children to actively and physically interact with and manipulate the information that is being presented to them.   No longer do they need to be passive learners.

And aren’t we all better off without having to listen to the teacher’s nail screech down the blackboard when the chalk has become too short?

2. iPads

The closest thing I had to an iPad when I was in Prep was a small blackboard slate that I’d sit on my lap when writing or drawing (or maybe it was the contact-covered milk carton that housed my personal weekly words). Even just seven years ago, when I was still teaching, students only had two or three computers to share between a class of 25-30 children.

iPads are so much more dynamic than blackline masters. Like the interactive whiteboard, iPads have such a variety of uses but because many schools have a good student-iPad ratio and because they are small, portable and easy to use their use can be planned or spontaneous. They give children the chance to consolidate what they have experienced on the interactive whiteboard as a class; they allow learning and tasks to be catered to individual children and they allow children to learn at their own pace rather than trying to keep up in group situations.

3. Social Media

Social media has such a bad reputation, but it can be a rich learning tool. I think wonderful things are happening in classrooms because teachers are inspired by what they see on blogs and platforms such as Pinterest. Teachers are able to network with educators all over the world with the help of Twitter, Facebook and Google +, and I have no doubt that our children benefit from this.

Students can have authentic learning experiences with social media too. Setting up and maintaining class blogs and Twitter accounts teaches them first-hand the importance of cyber-safety under the supervision of their teacher. It is also a great way to record and reflect on learning.

4. Communication

Newsletters have been online for quite some time now, but email is becoming a preferred method of communication for teachers. While it certainly doesn’t replace a face-to-face chat, I absolutely love the use of email to communicate with Cammy’s teacher. I can shoot through an email to Cammy’s teacher with the most trivial of questions and not have to feel guilty that I’ve wasted her time. What’s even better is that I always receive a prompt reply by the end of the day.

What I really wish we were using when I was teaching (and I’m sure with five children, my Mum would have liked this 31 years ago too) is the facility to get online to book your child’s parent/teacher interview. What a lot of headaches this software is no doubt saving.

5. Online Lunch Orders

Okay, so maybe I’m not too happy about this change. I wish Cammy could experience the independence and pride that comes with writing her lunch order on a brown-paper bag, the concentration needed to calculate the order correctly and the mad rush of rummaging through mum’s purse to find the correct change. But, times have changed and I’m sure there are many new skills Cammy can learn from ordering her lunch online. It may also help because I actually very rarely have loose change in my purse.

Finding the right school

31 years ago, families rarely looked beyond their local school; now it is the norm to look a little further from home to find the right school. Cammy doesn’t attend our closest school as it didn’t seem like the right fit for her. In today’s society, parents have a huge array of choice when it comes to schools for their children, and with that comes an element of stress.
Rather than assisting only children, technology can help the whole family when it comes to education. School Places is an online website that can help, especially for families who are looking to find the right private school for their child. The website is designed to make the process easier, faster and less stressful.

I’d love to hear about your own school reflections. What nostalgic memories do you have of school? What new and exciting (or weird) changes have you seen in your child’s classroom?

About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase

This post is part of a Nuffnang advertising series.

5 Ways Technology has Changed the Prep Classroom Since 1984

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  1. So true!! I think the biggest change is the power of the internet! My son’s prep teacher would print things off for him that she googled (to encourage his interest in various topics) – no need for searching for a book at the library and photocopying!

  2. Goodness, our school definitely isnt as tech savvy as Cammy’s!! But yes, the internet sure has helped a lot and so has all the other technology offerings. And I love being able to order lunches online and use our school app too! But I gotta admit I still love a lot of old school approaches too :) its a balance I think.

    • Embracing technology can be frightening for educators I think. It is a powerful tool that is constantly evolving but I truly believe children can be catered better as individual learners because of it. And yes, I agree with the balance. Human interaction is of utmost importance.

  3. We had online booking for parent teacher interviews so schools are getting there! And it definitely makes it easy – especially in high school where there are multiple teachers to try and book in to see!! :)

  4. Kate said: On April 20, 2015

    Technology is equal parts scary to amazing for me. The thought of the social media bullying is almost enough for me to homeschool and also (as a teacher, there is endless frustrations with poorly managed technology maintenance. That said, technology has revolutionized the classrooms in all the ways you describe and more. I am sure this introduction of technology in classrooms has meant more children are able to engage wih lessons and stay at school longer than they otherwise might have.
    Thank you for the trip down memory lane too!!

  5. Things certainly have changed in many schools! But reading through your list, made me realise that not much has changed in Steiner schools, they still use blackboards and have made an artform of it. No ipads or tech whiteboards (in the lower years anyway). We do have online lunch orders, but I still can’t go past a brown paper bag with the order written on it!

    • Interesting Kelly. I must admit I don’t know much about Steiner schools. I’d love to know in what ways they do actually incorporate technology.

  6. Oh how I love the interactive white boards!
    So much better than the dusty old chalk boards from when I was a kid.
    I often wander in to pick up my grade 2 boy (how is he in grade 2 already??) and find his class grooving along to some dance video up on the white board!!!

  7. Debs said: On April 21, 2015

    Online lunch orders! Now that’s new, haha. Our school still has the brown paper bag to send and change is always taped to the bag. The way it should be, LOL. Technology is integrated into our school really well. In addition to the smart boards, tech lab and class ipad sets, each day a different child is a reporter and one is a photographer and together they use an ipad to collect information and photos of things going on in the classroom to present to the class. Rather than just using technology as a source of information, it is shown and used in real life applications which is really important. Great article :D

    • That is awesome. I love schools that trust kids to use the equipment; as well as learning how to use the tools they learn to care and look after them.

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