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Ed-Tech Talk...

by Dr. Rob Reilly

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This article was printed from Teachers.Net Gazette,
located at http://teachers.net.

I Retired From 'Teaching' Back in 2009 and Now I'm Back! -
Reporting from the future

I began my teaching career back in 1975 at the Sacred Heart School in Springfield, Massachusetts; and I retired from the Celebration, Florida school system 10 years ago. So here I am in sunny Florida enjoying life in 2019; the second decade of the 21st Century. I still stay 'connected' to the Internet; I'm still active in a few of the professional organizations that I belonged to when I was teaching. In addition to my public school teaching, I taught a graduate course at a local state college. That course was entitled: "Technology Issues and Solutions for Educational Administrators." And over the years I've maintained contact with a number of the students from that graduate course. Oddly enough I had an interesting VP (videophone) conversation with one former student last summer. (Let me tell you right now that I don't much like VPs, I liked the old cordless phones, these new videophone glasses are difficult for me to get-used-to. There's something uncomfortable about having a phone call come through your eyeglasses. Having a microphone and speaker imbedded in the frames and talking back and forth to a person is one thing, but I just can't get-used seeing the real-time image of person I'm talking right there in from of me--holography has come a long way--so has the telephone). But let's get back to the point and I'll tell you what happened as a result of the VP call from a former student.

I received a phone call from Jeanette Sorenson. I had lost-touch with Jeanette a few years ago; and now-and-then I would wonder what she was doing with herself. It was great to hear from her. This was not just a casual call; Jeanette was on a mission. But before I tell you about our conversation, let me give you a little background about Jeanette. Back in 2003 Jeanette was a very dynamic middle school science teacher in a school just a few miles north of Albany, New York. She enrolled in the graduate course I was teaching, as she wanted to become certified as superintendent. When she was a grad student in my class I remember thinking that it was 'odd' that Jeanette was already certified as a principal and wanted to become certified as a superintendent before she had any administrative experience. But after a few classes my question was 'answered.' Jeanette did not want to be a principal; Jeanette wanted to be a superintendent; not an associate superintendent, not an assistant superintendent--a superintendent. While this could be accomplished in a small-sized school system where there was only one superintendent and just a few district office staff. But Jeanette wanted to be a superintendent of a large metropolitan school system. I recall speaking with Jeanette more than a few times about the reality of going from classroom teacher to becoming the superintendent of a large school system. While I thought that, if anyone could do this, she could, I was still aware of how school systems operate (or at least I was aware of how schools seemed to operate when I was a teacher). Well, enough background information for now, let's move on.

Well, Jeanette became the superintendent of a large metropolitan school system in northern Virginia and she wanted me to come out of retirement and be her director of technology! Typical of Jeanette, she did not waste anytime getting to the point and still had a very cordial demeanor--what a combination! We had a very productive 90-minute conversation; I asked lots of question, she answered them, and she asked lots of questions and I answered them.

To make a long story, I took the job.

Our agreement was that I would 'try the job' for one year and then she and I would evaluate the situation. So, I kept my house in Florida, packed what I thought I'd need to have with me in Virginia and was almost ready to head North. But I did need to have a place to live. I had heard people talking about REA (pronounced "ree-ahh" a virtual real estate agent). Well I went online and found REA. She looked just like a real person, she acted like a real person and she knew a great deal about real estate. Anyway, I went to her Web site and get things started. REA materialized in my living room and was very cordial. After a bit of small talk, REA started asking me questions about my preferences in housing, my income, etc. Pretty soon she started showing me houses. The experience was terrific; I had never experienced this before. All of a sudden there were massive holographic projections all around me. I was actually inside a house that REA though I'd like. We 'walked' from room to room, we went upstairs, we went downstairs, we went outside. This was the first time I have experienced this and I had a difficult time focusing on the house and away from the technology that was making all this happen. I couldn't tell if my image was teleported to the house Virginia or if the house in Virginia was teleported to me; I kept wondering about that. Oh well, I'll figure that out later. Right then I needed to have a place to stay in Virginia.

I did not like the first few houses REA showed me, but eventually I found one I liked. I made a down payment on the rent and the deal was done. I still don't fully trust those retinal scan devices that banks use to transfer money. I wish banks would go back to the old check book system; I was comfortable using my Palm Pilot to beam my financial transactions from one place to another; I had control of things then! But so much for me 'wishing for the old day.'

So now I'm the Director of Technology in the Alexandria, Virginia school system, I have a house to live in and given that I've kept-up with the technology, I should not have too much trouble getting back into the flow of things in a school system.

Then came the day that I had to get on an airplane and actually go to Virginia. I must admit that I'd not done any air travel since I retired back in 2009. I was anticipating seeing what airports were like these days.

I knew that I'd probably need to get to the airport a few hours early as I would need to check my bags and I supposed the line of people waiting to get their tickets would be long. Was I surprised! Baggage check in was instantaneous. I walked in front of a full body scan machine with my luggage and the machine scanned me electronically linking my baggage to me. Then the conveyer-belt walkway split and my baggage went one way and I went the other. I'm still not sure how my luggage got to the right airplane and how it would be transferred from one plane to the other (I had to change airplanes in Atlanta, Georgia).

Well, I arrived in Washington DC airport, got off the plane and started looking for the Baggage Claim area. But I could not find it. I did find an airline representative and asked how to get my baggage. She told me to walk down this conveyer-belt walkway and my luggage would merge with me at the end. Huh, my luggage would merge with me at the end of the walkway! But hey, I was not a person to argue, especially since I was not sure that the airline representative was a real person or and audio-anamatronic device. So, I ventured to the walkway. It was about 50 meters long (I'm sure glad the US went metric back in 2010. It makes dealing with the rest of the world easier).

At the end of the walkway, my luggage did merge with me. It was the same as when I was separated from my luggage back in Florida. The walkway I was on suddenly became twice as wide as it was and there were my bags.

I'm still wondering 'how they did that.' But I'll get back to that later. I had to meet Jeanette. She was going to bring me to my new house and then we were going to take a tour of the schools.

I was looking forward to that. Really how much could things have changed! Was I surprised! But I'll tell you about that in next month's Gazette article.

Rob Reilly's home page: http://web.media.mit.edu/~reilly

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