The musings of an empathetic mum, teacher, leader and global digital citizen
(aka Mrs V)

PART 15: Looking Back to Travel Forward!

I don’t know about you but I quite like the concept of Facebook memories. If you are unfamiliar with this feature, it is a reminder notification that pops up each day or so and presents you with your flashback posts for exactly the same day a year or two earlier.

Each time it brings with it a little surprise. Now this surprise may be all encompassing joy at a beautiful memory such as a special birthday celebration with family or friends, or it could bring utter embarrassment (as I experienced this past week looking back at a previous photo of myself from several years ago). Either way, the act of looking back—remembering and reflecting—allows us to consider several things. It allows us to recall wonderful memories that remind us of how simple life’s joys can be, it allows us to be grateful for how far we or one of our children has come, and it genuinely helps put life today back into perspective.

You see, sometimes when we only look forward, we can become scared, confused or worried about the future, or at times, overly focussed on the future. However, when we choose to look back every now and then, and check our rear vision mirror, we are reminded of how far we have come, or perhaps gently reminded of the direction we were meant to be heading in before we became fixated on something else. So today I want to look back a little. I want to reflect on Educational Technology and its journey so far.

For as long as I can remember, educational technology consisted of a few key, but quite static pieces. The first that springs to my mind was the Overhead Projector or OHP. That uniquely designed piece of tech that allowed our teachers to project a fixed or written image from the clear overhead transparency to the wall; the OHP was always front and centre in my classroom. I particularly liked when my teacher would spit on the corner of a tissue to clean the transparency off. Ah, memories!

FUN FACT: Did you know that the Overhead Transparency was used as early as 1930, and preceded the ball point pen?

In the early 1990’s we were introduced to the data projector! This amazing invention allowed our teachers to connect their computers or laptops (if they were lucky enough to have one) to a projector that displayed the image up onto a screen or wall. Now digitised, the Data Projector allowed our teachers to present an array of images, templates and PowerPoints to students. Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly experienced death by PowerPoint more than once during my university days.

Then who could forget the implementation of the desktop computer—that’s right, that beautiful, beige, boxy boy. These bad boys completely changed the way we operated in school. For a start, we could turn them on, head to PE lessons, come back and still be ready when they booted up. But seriously, who doesn’t remember how cool we all felt when it was finally our turn to go into the Computer Lab and begin learning MS-DOS.

Now of course we can’t talk about desktop computers without remembering their loveable sidekicks – the floppy disks – these versatile little gizmos were equally good to use as a coaster or fan on a hot day. However, bend them, shake them or generally do anything other than lovingly hold them, and you could guarantee your hard-earned assignment efforts were nowhere to be found next time you slid that floppy into the disk drive.

Following the launch of the World Wide Web in 1990, the world exploded into a frenzy of communication, information and greater technological advancement.

Enter the PDA or Personal Digital Assistant in 1993, and well, let’s be honest, none of us have ever looked back ever since. By 2009, 97% of classrooms had one or more computers, and 93% of computers in classrooms had access to the internet.

Oh How Far We Have Come!

Today in education our students have access to the best of the best. Speedy internet, tablets, Bluetooth and data-enabled high powered computers the size of their hands. Our students have access to laptops of every size, shape and capacity, touch screens, the newer short-throw projectors and so much more.

I had an interesting conversation with my youngest this week as we were driving. She said “Mum, you know that one day when you are old and I am driving you around, I will be able to sit back, relax and read a book because the car will drive for me. You never know, I may even be able to ask the car to make you a coffee too!!”

I had to smile because she is probably right. I love the complete awe-and-wonder she has for the world around her. She has this incredible optimism that things can always get better, improve and progress. Now I could look at this as though she were spoiled or ungrateful, constantly wanting more… however I choose to look at this in a positive light. I want her to continue to seek out knowledge and new experiences. I want her to be a risk taker.

Importantly though, I want her to notice the change, development and distance the world has travelled over the years. I want her to sometimes look back to see how far we have come and to gain an understanding, a discernment of whether our progress has been positive or negative. Then I want her and her friends to do something about it.


Activity 1: This week I encourage you to find a time to sit with your children and ‘google’ some of the cool technologies you experienced as a kid. Not only will you help them gain an appreciation for what they have now, but you will all have a good laugh together.

Activity 2: Post a comment below to share some of your technological reminiscences or even your child’s reactions to your stories.


Enjoy yourselves this week and we will talk more soon,

♥ Mrs V xxx

(Novice Minecraft player, Level 11 Clash Royale Clan Leader,  Level 42 Farmer, firm but loving digital parent, mistake-maker and Head of Junior School)