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  • Writer's pictureJolie Radunich

Here's what I'd tell my computer science teachers if I saw them today



My elementary computer science teachers undeniably impacted my enthusiasm for tech—even though I don't remember having ONE direct conversation with them.


I'm sure they came over to my computer station now and then to help me troubleshoot a frozen screen or rainbow-spinning wheel. But as quickly as my teachers solved the issue, they'd leave me once again, having the time of my life with just a keyboard, mouse, and screen.


If I could talk to my computer science teachers today, here's what I'd tell them.


Your job felt so mysterious


I didn't have computer science classes daily like the core content areas. I saw my language arts/ social studies and math/ science teachers daily. I saw their personalities, quirks, fashion sense, and even learned about their families.


On the flip side, I saw my computer science teachers about once a week, making their role at my school and in my learning much more interesting. I didn't know the faces behind the pedagogy well at all. But the knowledge they did share made me a ferocious learner.


Going into the computer lab was a treat. But just like that, after spending no more than 45 minutes at a time in the computer-filled room, with dimmed lights and SMART boards that lined the walls, my teachers, along with this environment, vanished into the next week.


You always made sure my thinking was creative and fused with engagement


Our computer classes were filled with so many activities, but there are a few standouts:


  • Free drawing on Kid Pix

  • Hearing my first Ted Talk

  • Taking pictures with Photo Booth filters

  • Watching BrainPOP videos and taking comprehension quizzes

  • Learning how to type on Mavis Beacon and racing classmates to beat typing records


You balanced skills and creativity so well. While activities like typing harnessed our technical skills, others felt less about having a right or wrong, and more about exploring and learning to troubleshoot.


The tech you introduced me to was next-level—for our time!


Getting a TedTalk recommendation doesn't feel groundbreaking today. How often do you hear the phrase, thank you for coming to my TedTalk?


TedTalk had been around for about 30 years since I discovered it. However, the company's first videos were posted online in 2006. My teacher cued up the first one I saw, projecting it onto a Smartboard.


Smartboards were used for other lessons too. I remember sitting on the floor in front of one, as you made different strokes of red, blue, green, and black dance around the projector.


This was another brand that wasn't hot off the press during my time in school but was growing into more of a household name during my learning years.



You created such an exciting learning environment


I can vividly picture our elementary school computer lab.


Each computer class was a free field trip from the regular classroom to a spacious center with dimmable lights.


You provided whole-class instruction and enough 1:1 time with the computer.


And the rows of computers made me feel like I was part of something different. Something BIG.


With a great physical space and learning tools, I was locked in.


Our tech was building blocks for so much more


I can't tell you how many TED Talks I've watched since you cued up my first one, the one we watched together.


Other tech knowledge you taught me that feel like trivial skills today, were the building blocks to the more advanced skills I still remember:


  • Strategies for making strong, unhackable passwords

  • A jingle about dragging items to the desktop to save files

  • Having patience and learning how to troubleshoot


To my elementary computer science teachers...


THANK YOU.


Channel your edtech kid to create an experience


My computer science teachers taught me more than tips and tricks. They gave me an experience. The physical environment of the computer lab. The fun learning exercises. Takeaways lasting two decades.


Think about someone who created a similar experience for you as a kid. One that was filled with nuggets of wonder and excitement at every turn.


How can you create this for someone else in your edtech role?

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