I was recently reminded of the truth of Clive James’s words: “It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.” There are many times throughout the year when my perceived dependency on technology is strangely heightened. Just last week, I completed my daily instructional duties and planned on working on some report cards at home. This was not to be the case, as some fierce Vancouver winter storms relieved our entire neighborhood of electricity for a few hours. Moving beyond my initial irritation, I counted the many ways this dependency has affected my professional life.
I have always held a fascination for technical things. I remember attempting to write a computer program when I was in elementary school called The Dungeons of Htam, which was designed cleverly to conceal the reviled math in the context of a game. This later proved to contain educational theory through the idea of embodied learning through games. I took to all sorts of these adventures through Sierra’s Quest games, taking me to places like California’s Gold Rush of the 1800s; magical, mythical lands from youthful fairy tales; inner-city neighborhoods; and even improbable lands on other planets. Problem-solving became a little fun and somewhat more meaningful.
Some years later, I returned to education’s domain, and began to see the potential for using my childhood passions in my professional context. Like many technological gadgets, it was entertainment that first attracted me to its use. But the more I used devices like a video camera, the more I began to see their learning potential.