School Technology: My Career

Is this your computer mouse?
Is this your computer mouse? | Source
D.O. Fire
D.O. Fire | Source
Delivery of new computers
Delivery of new computers | Source

The Beginning

As with all stories it is best to start in the beginning. My career in technology began with a fire. I worked as secretary to a school district administrator. The name of the district will remain unknown to protect the intelligent. That statement will become clearer as my saga continues.

The District Office I worked in was the first in New York State to burn to the ground. Not a very admirable attribute but it is what happened. As a result of the fire we lost all of our equipment and insurance allowed us to purchase new IBM computers. They were light years ahead of what we had so it was obvious someone would have to teach everyone how to use the new computers. My boss, at the time, asked if I would be willing to learn and then teach the D.O. (District Office) staff. When I said yes I had no idea it would lead to a career in technology.

I began by studying about the new computer and its Windows Operating System as well as the new Microsoft Office Suite of the time. After studying and experimenting I began writing a manual that everyone could refer to when I wasn't available to answer their questions. The good news for users was no more DOS. Although DOS was still operating in the background users didn't have to worry about it anymore. Windows was a graphical interface and provided pictures (icons) for users to work with. This was back in February 1996. I offer this date just as a point of reference in the computer world and to point out we were using Windows 95 for our computers and Windows NT for our network.

This was a whole new total experience. Windows allowed the computer to run faster and introduced the right mouse button. Imagine not having the right mouse button? Go one better, imagine not having the mouse? Now we did. We now also had a Windows "desktop" with icons on the computer screen. Then there was this "task bar" on the bottom of the desktop. These things were all new to us. Our computers now had CD ROMS! What a thrill, no more "floppy disks". Of course with all the new advantages came disadvantages. People set in their ways were disturbed by all this new stuff and how the computer now worked. It was my job to convince them it was better and so I did. My first classes consisted solely of playing Solitaire . I know you're thinking this isn't very good office procedure but actually it was. It gave them experience with the mouse and how best to hold it, eye hand coordination, and how to move the pointer on the screen. Remember they hadn't used a mouse before!

In addition I got involved in the Technology Plan. I worked with a committee but in the end did most of the writing of the plan myself. I scoured the Internet and researched other school districts to see what they had in their plan. I reviewed our budget for current and future expenses and when all was said and done I presented a draft to the committee. To my surprise and delight my Technology Plan was adopted.

Students in one of my technology classes.
Students in one of my technology classes. | Source
Photo of student art work I took for district newsletter.
Photo of student art work I took for district newsletter. | Source
Photo taken for newsletter - student trip to the Metropolitan Museum.
Photo taken for newsletter - student trip to the Metropolitan Museum. | Source

Teaching about Software

Miraculously my first class was a success and my manual a big hit. This led to other classes as we expanded technology throughout the district. During one class I observed a teaching assistant holding the mouse on the computer screen. "Is there something wrong", I asked? "I can't get the mouse pointer up to the top of the screen!" I told you the mouse was new to them.

Have you heard the "Press any key" humor or perhaps seen it on the Simpsons? Well, it actually happened in one of my classes. There was a time that you needed to hit any key to continue..after loading a CD or the like. I instructed one of my classes to "press any key" and saw one of the teachers sitting, staring at the keyboard. I walked over and asked if there was a problem (swear this is true), she looked at me and said, "I've looked all over this keyboard and can't find the any key anywhere!"

As technology began to grow the district administration decided it was time to include a new technology position called a "Software Specialist." Naturally I applied for the position. My part time staff training was starting to interfere with my full time position as Secretary to the Superintendent of Schools. With my experience teaching computer classes I was a shoe in for the job. Now I was a full time technology person. I continued to teach classes but I was also responsible for the newly created district web site and public relations which included taking pictures and writing a district newsletter and a "computer" newsletter. There were actually two Software Specialists but the story of the second specialist is a whole 'nother hub.

I began teaching more Internet classes and how to download and upload things from the Internet so that teachers could use materials in their classes. After teaching one group of teachers how to download I then explained the upload process and the difference between the two. As I walked around the room offering assistance I noticed one of the teachers had downloaded a photo of Johnny Depp. Not a problem, but on closer inspection I realized that's all she was doing -- downloading pictures of Johnny Depp!

I was in the Software Specialist position for two years when the District realized technology was growing and was definitely here to stay. They decided it was time for a Director of Technology position. I felt I had an inside track and applied for the position. After several interviews with the Superintendent and a hiring committee, I was chosen for the job. Again, though I knew I had experience I was surprised when I was chosen for the job.

Always helping others.
Always helping others. | Source

Director of Technology

The Director of Technology position expanded greatly on my duties. I was to continue what I was doing (teaching classes, the district website, and writing newsletters) but additionally I was now responsible for technology in the district. That included anything and everything. In addition to all of the computer technology, any technology from telescopes and calculators to data administration. It seems they decided since data administration was done on a computer it was the Director of Technology's responsibility.

I was now in charge of ordering all of the technology - both hardware and software. I also coordinated these purchases with administration and staff in order to more comprehensively incorporate it all into the curriculum. I had three technicians working with me. I say with me rather than for me because I never asked them to do anything I wouldn't do myself. I took classes in computer networking and I loaded and unloaded trucks. We all worked together and formed a bond that lasted for the next ten years.

I quickly learned "computerese " and the true technical names of things. I began calling that blue computer wire - Cat 5 and knew our network was connected with a T1 fiber optic. I learned the difference between a cold boot (when you turn the computer power off to reboot) and a warm boot (when you use the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys to reboot). I learned about the topography of our network - that's the whole layout, computers, wires, networking, etc. I learned about de-fragging a computer to make it run faster (under system maintenance). The list goes on but in spite of all I learned I also learned I needed my technicians to provide their expertise and advice. I also learned the machinations of administration and how to play the game to keep my department alive.

My department grew to include a secretary and a person to take care of the website and when someone else retired, the telephone system. I worked closely with the Special Education Department as state mandates kept them (and me) on their toes. New technologies were often mandated and had to be purchased within a certain time to be in compliance with the law. It was certainly a learning job. Budget time was a challenge each year. In the beginning it consisted of preparing Power Point Presentations to justify asking for more money to buy new technology. As the years went on those presentations were used to prove why we couldn't stand a budget cut in technology. The budget boogie was certainly a dance I didn't enjoy doing. The technology budget was stretched across six buildings and it was my job to make sure the distribution was fair among those buildings. My legacy to the district was at least four computers in every classroom (some had more), a computer lab in every library, and a SmartBoard in every classroom. (I so wanted to say a chicken in every pot but I couldn't fit it in.) I have stacks of Thank You notes from teachers thanking me for teaching them how to use their SmartBoards and make them a part of their teaching. I know full well there are some teachers still using the SmartBoards as just whiteboards, but they are definitely in the minority.

All in all, I loved it. I loved the job, the challenge and the people I worked with but all good things must come to an end and so did my career.

Technology is an ever-changing field and anyone who chooses it must be prepared to continue learning, taking classes, reading, and practicing, then doing it all over again. Collaboration is a life saver in technology as is the Internet. It is absolutely vital to be on top of things including the messaging and shorthand students are using in email and what new Malware is coming down the pike.

When I retired I swore I was not going to work on a computer anymore. That lasted about one month until I found HubPages. Now my HubPage addiction keeps me on the computer almost as much as my Director job did, in all honesty it may keep me here more. I read, I write and then I do it all over again.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved


Technology in Education

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Comments 10 comments

Christine W. 4 years ago

Wow! Thanks for that interesting history lesson! That was interesting to read! :-)

Thank you also for all your years if service & help! I'm glad I was able to work with you for those last 9 years at the unnamed district. ;-)


diogenes 4 years ago

Brilliant bio! What a great career, yu must have missed it when you said goodbye. I loved the pupil actually putting the mouse on the screen and the "any key."

Glad we have you on HP

Bob


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Surprised to see you here Chris! It was my pleasure to work with people like you in the unnamed district ;)

Bob, it was hard at first but retirement sucked me in ;) Thanks for making me feel good.


aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London

This is fascinating. I still remember using Dos on computers and the great change that windows was.

Your story of the person using the mouse on the screen reminded me of Scotty in the star trek movie where they go back in time to the 80s, using it as a microphone to communicate with the computer. "Hello, computer!"


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thanks for reading aa lite, sometimes the true stories are the ones that are hardest to believe!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Mary, I went to The Academy of Learning and went through their software specialist program. After I graduated on then went on to teach at the school I attended. Small world :)

Loved reading your hub.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

LOL--I had to laugh at the "any key" story....I know it to be true, and I'm sure anyone who has spent any time at all working in IT has dealt with it. My husband's last job was in hardware/software configuration, and sometimes physical repairs...and he, too, encountered someone on a troubleshooting phone call who couldn't find that mysterious "any" key...

There was also the "my cup holder has broken," story....

No, the missing floppy drive was not replaced by a cup holder! WOW!

In the late 90's, I was searching for a job, and computers were still not widespread in every office....in an attempt to demonstrate both a familiarity with computers and a bit of creativity as well, I added the sentence, "Not afraid of mice" to my resume. It did not seem to help, or hurt...it was never mentioned, in fact, I never did find another job, which, upon examining who DID get the jobs, I put down to age discrimination. At that point, I said something unladylike, and decided on self-employment with my husband.

Very interesting hub, here, and so voted.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

You had a very interesting career and funny. When I got my first computer my son-in-law told me it was so big I would never be able to fill it up. I had it full in no time. I started out with windows 95. I remember press any button.

I lost 12 lbs. trying to teach myself how to use the computer. I would just forget to eat. I wish I could do that now. Voted up and more.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Mary,

Your career in Technology is quite an interesting story. I admire you for accepting the challenge to learn the new IT. When I first had to work with Windows and a mouse I was about 50 years old. Being set in my ways already, I really didn't like to have to learn all of the new computer applications and still do my government job. Then, I realized that if I want to keep up with what's happening in the world, I'd have to accept the new technology and learn as much about it as I can. There are still many things I feel quite uncomfortable doing like using Excel and Powerpoint. If I want to make life easier for myself, it's a must for anyone regardless of their age to learn these applications. The problem is that as people get older they are less and less willing to take a chance and try something new. What a lot of us forget is that we learn until we die. Voted up and sharing and Pinning.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

It definitely is a small world Susan, guess we have lots in common! Glad you enjoyed.

Lizzy I can imagine your frustration. Having an inside track is certainly what helped me. In many places you may have the knowledge but without a degree you don't get the job. I think if I saw your "not afraid of mice" comment on an application I would have hired you! A sense of humor is always an asset. Thanks for the vote.

Oh Moonlake, I probably lost about the same crawling under computers and running around the district. Of course I've now found the 12 lbs. and then some! Thanks for the votes.

Paul I always found the hardest thing to overcome was people's fear of the computer. I would tell them time and time again, you're not going to break it and if you "mess" something up, we'll fix it! Excel can be tricky but once you get Powerpoint its a piece of cake ;) Yes, thanks to computers there is a constant learning curve. Thank you so much for the votes and Pin!

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