1996 – Caracas, Venezuela. My first international school posting. Thirty nine people were hired that year. Within the first couple of days we were given a quick workshop on how to use the new communication tool called email. It became very popular very quickly. There was always a line up for the one computer that had email capability as it was too expensive for the school to have more than one connection at that time. A couple days later we were given another workshop on how to use the computer to do lesson plans and report cards. Within a couple of months, my wife and I bought our first computer. The digital age had started in my life.
It did not take long to realize that a whole new world was opening up to me. All of a sudden I had access to anything I needed information on. I would spend my spare time just looking for stuff. I would look for anything of interest to me. I would look up stuff related to art, school, travel places or the news. Clicking on one button would always lead to another piece of information or site. Very quickly time would go by and I would still be on the computer when it became time to do something else.
For the longest time I viewed the Internet as mostly a source of entertainment. I also used it for email and Skype calls (still do), but mostly just to keep myself amused in the evening. It replaced the television for me in our household. I would spend my evenings going through my favorite sites to see what was new and keep up to date on goings on in the world. I would read my home town newspaper, daydream about real estate, find parts for my old car, pay my bills, register my kids for camp, find good places to eat in Kichijoji, watch TV, or research my next travel destination or flight. However, at times, even this got old and I would get restless for something more.
As we know the Internet keeps on changing and reinventing itself. It has become even more exciting than ever before. Change for me started a couple of years ago, but really only took off this year with my participation in Coetail. Coming to the realization that the Internet has so much power through the use of information and the connections it can make for people was in some ways an eye opener for me. Being able to go to a site and then clicking on hyperlinks that take you somewhere else again and again and again just shows you how closely information is linked on any imaginable subject there is. The connections one can make and the information you can now get just seems limitless.
What is equally exciting, but also daunting is all the tools that are now available for harnessing that information. Understanding and utilizing those tools to their full potential will make me a better teacher. Using things like Facebook, Twitter, Diigo, Flickr, Google and the myriad of other sites now makes it easier to connect with anybody. With all these possible connections teaching becomes a whole new ball game. Having students share, learn and teach each other in my art room or half a world away seems incredible. Learning will just keep on transforming itself.
2011 – Tokyo, Japan. Teaching has become a lot more exciting with the power of the Internet and all the information that can be gathered through the connections that can now be made.