In 1990, I was wrapping up high school and embarking on my college journey. My plan? To become a business teacher teaching Vocational Office Education and training students (primarily girls) how to type (on a typewriter), use a 10-key calculator, file records and transcribe documents (again, on a typewriter, of course and using cassette tapes). My goal? Graduate from college with a degree and certification in teaching. My long-term goal was to teach VOE until retiring from teaching. The reality? By the time I graduated college with my Bachelor of Science in Business Education degree, it was 1994.
So, what’s the big deal about 1994? It’s the year of Forrest Gump and the launch of Friends. Oh, and the first Sony Playstation was released in Japan. But, this year was remarkable for another reason. Although the PC had existed for a decade by this point, by 1994 there were 31% of Americans with PCs in their homes. And 12% of those had access to the World Wide Web. Whoa!
In May of 1994, this press release on how Americans felt about technology was distributed. It highlighted the changing American household and our opinion on technology. It wasn’t just for business anymore and the way we would learn, teach, spend our free time, and communicate with others was about to change.
How those statistics would change my career was became obvious quickly. It meant that in order to educate students for an industry that was rapidly changing, I would have to continually stay up-to-date. Vocational Office Education and its interoffice memorandums and stenography/dictating went by the wayside. Now, after 19 years of teaching, I teach courses like Web Design and Game programming. To get to this point, I became industry certified in web design, attended workshops and conferences on changing technology, taught myself new skills and learned new methods of teaching technology to students. I had to give up the old way of doing things for the best interest of my students.
Learning Tools Over the Years
Today we are teaching technology savvy students about technology. Most of my seniors were born in 1996. They have never lived in a world without computers, the Internet, mobile phones, and video games. Not only has the way they learn changed, but what they want to learn has changed as well. Many of today’s teenagers not only want to know how to conduct effective Google searches, type their research papers using Microsoft Word and play video games, they want to know how to create websites and animations and program video games. Technology isn’t something students just do, it is now something that is woven into their daily lives and we must rise up and meet the needs of their ever-changing world. Their career possibilities in technology are limitless as technology innovation has infiltrated every industry.
To meet these needs, the role of the Business Education and/or Information Technology teacher is always changing, always evolving. Anyone who chooses a lifelong career in teaching technology must commit to being a lifelong learner. Questions current and prospective technology teachers must always ask themselves include:
- Am I teaching students what they need to know to be successful in a technology career in any industry?
- Am I teaching students the technology they need to be successful in college and their personal lives?
- How can I prepare myself to meet these needs?
- Am I doing enough to ensure I am current and up-to-date with my instructional resources and teaching methods?
- Am I encouraging girls (non-traditional technology students) to enroll in technology classes in high school? Am I encouraging them to seek technology industry careers after graduation?
Many of these questions can even be answered quickly by simply asking the students: What do you want to know? What do you need to know?
Using the answers to those questions will help you plan and decide how you need to prepare yourself to meet the needs of the students:
- Experiment with the new technologies. Play with new software programs. Explore new equipment.
- Collaborate with other technology teachers. Don’t just limit yourself to the ones in your same school or district.
- Organize an advisory committee comprised of professionals in the technology industry both in and outside of your community.
- Read! News and research articles on current and emerging technologies will always give an idea of what your students need to know now and in the future.
- Research! Look at the job statistics and employment demands for your state. Tennessee has a website that contains a wealth of information on all job industries in the state.
What other ideas do you have for long-term improvement plans and continuing education in the Business Education and Information Technology program areas?