That Will Never Work!

AppleIIeIf you take a look at many success stories, you’ll find that the naysayers outnumbered the visionaries. It’s difficult to think now of a time before the Internet, but there was such a time. Then, educators may have first discovered computing through the clever generosity of Apple. Apple IIs and Apple IIes were marched into schools—large, irregular, squat tabletops, with a huge typewriter-style keyboard, above which sat a small-screened green-black-faced monitor.

There wasn’t much inside, except some ribbon wire and a few circuit boards. Most of the peripherals were extra, similar to today, and attached to make the thing somewhat useful. In a classroom, they were an interesting attraction to the few students, who were able to get a 7-inch floppy to work without shaking it, or flipping it over. The first computer rooms were filled with them, and often became an educator’s worst nightmare, especially when printers with perforated printer paper became an option. Many felt, “These will never work, they’re just too impersonal to be worthwhile for my students.”

It may be difficult to understand, but when access to the Internet first became available, educators who purchased the first laptops often wondered why they couldn’t go to the Internet, which most called AOL. They hadn’t a clue an Internet provider was necessary, and connecting through old telephone copper wiring and modems made that possible… along with a monthly subscriber’s fee. Most educators continued to just do grades on computers, but many continued to avoid computers as just one extra thing to waste a teacher’s time, and after all, things could be done faster without them. And as for Universal Resource Locators (URLs), becoming as common and easy to use as telephone numbers… “Well, that will never happen. I can’t even remember my phone number, so there’s no way I’ll remember these crazy http things!”

Usually when you’re told something won’t work, it’s often a very good sign that you’re on the right track. Things may take longer to get to where you’d like to go, but if an idea is good, useful and easy to use, it most often gets its chance. As in everything, there are exceptions, but telling students that if they dream it, it could happen still works. Just add that it may require a bit of work, a lot of attention, time, and most of all sharing to make it so.

Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
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