Saturday, August 15, 2009

1990's: The Dot Com Revolution

The 1990's began the dot com revolution in Silicon Valley and in education. New Haven needed people with computer experience in education and business. When Rhonda Neagle left to become the media specialist at James Logan High School, Donna Uyemoto, the personnel director at New Haven, knew Alvarado needed someone to teach the teachers how to use the computers. Sharon Chambers remembers, "In August 1990, Jay Hendee, the district librarian, and Julia Strong looked at my portfolio, interviewed me, and hired me. I was thrilled, but terrified. A teacher told me, Rhonda Neagle, had big shoes. Good Luck trying to fill them. I was now the student's media teacher, manager of a very old 16000 volume library collection, and the technology facilitator."

"Fortunately for me the staff at Alvarado was amazingly supportive. The following year each teacher got their own computer for their classroom. It was on a cart. On Wednesday mornings we had training time until 10 am. No students came to school until 10:30 on Wednesdays. A set of classes were designated for each month in individual rooms for topics such as work processing, Kid Pix, and CD roms etc. Teachers rolled their cart to these rooms for instruction. I recruited teachers with computer experience to teach these classes. Marty Brown, ManYee Desandies, Cathy Hampton, Debbie Fryman all taught many classes. These teachers took charge and designed their own class work. After class each teacher rolled their cart back to their own class. This worked well because teachers had a choice as to what class they wanted. The other reason this worked was the AE staff was basically a really nice group of people. We also had technology training at staff meetings and I had a drop in after school users group where teachers could get help on anything related to technology."

We also had tremendous support from the district for technology. We had district meetings led by visionaries Jay Hendee and Roger Hoyer. These two were some of the first to realize the significance of the use of technology in education. Jay Hendee was the Head Librarian and Roger Hoyer was the director of Educational Technology. The librarian at James Login High School, Rhonda Neagle, also shared their vision. They went to conferences all over the United States to see how we could implement programs in New Haven. They were supported in this endeavor by our Superintendent, Guy Emmanual. The district meetings with teachers were not top down meetings. These were meetings in which everyone could discuss how to use programs and how best to teach the teachers and students to use the programs. As teachers our voices were heard. New Haven developed a reputation among California school districts as one of the leaders in educational technology. Due to the fact that all the district librarians were onboard with the vision, each school had a representative who would move students and teachers forward into the unknown but exciting future of educational technology. We had no idea how technology would look in twenty years, but we were game to do our best to learn how to use it with staff and students. You have to remember in 1990 most teachers did not even know how to use a computer, did not have one in their classroom, and some thought they were just a passing fancy. By 2011 technology went further than any of us could have ever imagined.

In 1995 some teachers were invited to a Summer Institute at Logan on using the internet. Liz Jordan and I developed Kids and Creeks an ecological website. Cathy Hampton and Manyee Desandies began to develop WOW. WOW or Wildcats on the Web was designed to be used by K-5 students. It was the first comprehensive internet website for students in New Haven. Now this website is no longer viable as the software used to develop it is no long available. Things change quickly in the technology world. The links cannot be revised and some of the sites have been cannibalized. However, if you look at WOW you can still see some of the ideas that were used. In 1999 a link for the media center was added.

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