Monday, March 22, 2010

The progression of Electronic Mail

One thing that astonishes me after reading Nola Campbell's article "The Vintage Years of eLearning in New Zealand Schools" was how far Electronic Mail (email) dates back. I initially thought email was a late nineties phenomena, but was proven wrong. I was first introduced to email when I was training to be a teacher ten years ago. During this time, email was a novelty and I mainly used it to communicate to Overseas relatives in Canada. Phone calls were quite expensive and letter writing was slow because of postage. Electronic mail was instant.

Campbell's research highlights the progression of electronic mail in the education system. Email, was first used in the early 1980's by men in the science and maths fields. Computers were greatly used in writing, instructional learning etc. There were significant changes made during the 1980's and up to the new millennium. Firstly, the Department of Education set up the "Computers in Education Development Unit" (CEDU). This initiative provided training to education and curriculum officers, and teachers in using Electronic Mail. During this time reports were issued out by the Department of Education instructing teachers how to use email. These reports in the late 1980's highlighted the success of email correspondence between schools in New Zealand and Overseas. The 1990's were also significant as the Ministry Of Education introduced Professional Development contracts in using ICT. These contracts provided teachers with training in developing knowledge and skills around using ICT's in the classroom. Emailing initiatives were running within schools, which promoted collaboration and networking between teachers and students. During this time, the Technology Curriculum came out and a new term came with it which was ICT (Information and Communications Technology). ICT was exploring the tools on the computer and developing knowledge around using them. Later came the term e-learning where the process of learning became an integral part to class room practice. The focus was more of the process rather than on the product.

After reading Campbell's article, questions lie for me: I was educated during the 1980's and 1990's, but email was not spoken about or implemented:
Where in New Zealand were the CEDU? in one main city e.g. Auckland or scattered throughout the country
Did the CEDU work with Senior managers and office staff first or were teachers shown how to compose and send emails?How come it has taken a while for schools to implement email?-if it was happening in the 1980's why weren't other schools' utilizing this communication tool- possible answers could be finance, attitudes from teachers, buy in from educators, etc.

Below is a timeline of the progress of electronic mail during the 1980'sBelow is the progress of implementation of email in schools during the 1990's

References: Campbell, N. (2004). The vintage years of e-learning in New Zealand schools. The Journal of Distance Education, 8 (1), 17-24

Headlam, S. (2006, September 09) The miracle of Electronic mail (Video File). Retrieved from

Email at it's early stages in the United Kingdom

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