When I was a girl, we didn’t even have computers.

27 Jan

I’ve started a new UBC course about using Web 2.0 tools in the library. One of our first assignments was to think back over our computer lives and look at how much they have changed. It seems like mine has changed a lot. The following is my contribution to my technology history.

Oh, computers. I love them and I hate them. I love that I can do so many things; I hate that my L key has fallen off so that I can only do things that don’t involve the letter L. Sometimes I think back to a simpler time, one when L’s weren’t complicated, when a pen and paper was all that I had….

My family got our first computer when I was 13. I used it primarily for email and playing games (Captain Comic and Tetris mostly). Eventually, I started to use the computer for research projects and to type written assignments. Since I had an artistic bent, I tended to stay away from computer generated work and would try to do as little as possible with the computer. I had neat handwriting and as a result I didn’t have much practice at typing. Honestly, I was a terrible typist. Even when things needed to be typed I resisted. I would write out my papers and my best friend would type them for me.

In university I was finally forced to accept that I couldn’t escape from using a computer. I did terribly in first year physics because all of the labs were done with Excel spreadsheets and I had absolutely no idea how Excel worked! I started to see the benefit of using a computer when I figured out how to access online journals through the UBC library website. This gave me a feeling of success which encouraged me to continue to develop my skills. Completing my Masters forced me to develop my typing skills as I typed (and retyped) my thesis over and over again.

Over the past 3 years I have been developing my creative computer skills. I am a member of the executive of the Provincial Intermediate Teachers’ Association PSA and I do all of the advertising, web design, branding, newsletter and print materials for the PSA. I mostly use Adobe InDesign and I have been forced to become fluent in this program. I really enjoy doing this type of work because it links into my creattive bent and I find it a hugely rewarding challenge. I am always learning.

I also work for my father and do all of his accounting and invoicing which means that, yes, I finally know how to use Excel! My husband taught me to use it and I supplement his knowledge with tutorials on YouTube. I hated Excel with a passion in university and now I love it!

While I have used email for quite awhile, I tend to be a quiet internet user; I look around but I don’t really make my mark anywhere. That has changed quite a bit this year with my job as a high-school teacher librarian. I have started a blog, created a web page, worked with the library collection and started to sign my name to my written work which is put onto the web for the Provincial Intermediate Teachers’ Association.

Right now my husband and I own 4 computers. One computer is stored away, my computer has no L key, his computer has a broken internal modem and our most recent computer finally came yesterday so it is still sitting in the box. When I am teaching in a classroom, I primarily use a computer for creating worksheets, classroom signage, attendance and reporting. In the library, I spend my day searching the web for useful links, maintaining the library website and creating new signs and displays. At home, I use the computer to read my favourite crafting and organizing blogs, check Facebook and watch Project Runway on Slice.ca. I buy products off Amazon.com, check out weekly store flyers, download audiobooks off BC Library, search public libraries, do research for lessons, learn sewing techniques from YouTube videos, do our banking and book travel. There are still many things that I like to do the “old-fashioned way” but often that is just because many things are within walking distance of where I live and doing them the old-fashioned way is a good excuse to get outside and get some exercise.

My new computer is about to come out of the box. I’m excited for all of the things that I will be able to do with it. When I was a kid, I used to become excited for a new package of felts or a box of crayons, and while those things let me create, I was limited to my own skills and talents. My picture could never be more than I was able to do. On a computer, with all of the tools it makes available to me, being linked to so many resources, allows me to find that I am able to do more than I could do alone. I just need to learn how.

 

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