How I Became the Coolest 6th Grader

07Apr08

ICQ: a 6th grader’s first foray into online networking.  I didn’t know it then, but I was well on my way to becoming a frequent and advanced user of the web.  ICQ was the pre-AIM of messaging when I was a youngster.  My best friend and I would have sleepovers at my house and aside from gossip and more gossip, we would get on ICQ and talk to our friends.  Looking back, ICQ at the time was strange, as it was more chat room based and I was often messaged by people I didn’t know (stranger danger!), but it was cool…for a 6th grader.

As middle school progressed, ICQ was so out, and AIM was so in.  Picking a screen name was painstakingly crucial, and I remember making lists with friends of our best options for sn’s, and which ones best reflected our totally awesome 13-year-oldness.  In fact, I still use the same name, “mel 0343,” after one friend decided we should keep it simple and use our nicknames and the last 4 digits of our home phone numbers (genius!!1!).  I got my first laptop when I was in 8th grade, the best investment my parents could have possibly made.  It allowed me to do all the homework I wanted on the privacy of my own computer! HA that was a joke.  I used it for AIM.  Almost exclusively.  I had a sick addiction to the web even then.  My father is a geek, and that’s probably where I get it from.  He was constantly reading books on Java and programming, and I was constantly updating my away messages.

We were the family that donated our old computer to my fifth grade class so everyone else could experience the glory of a 1993 Apple, that fine-tuned piece of technological achievement.  My parents even now have three computers at home between the two of them.  A friend of mine outdid me when we were in high school by getting an iMac, but I’ve made up for it by being one of the only people from my town who understands the power of a Powerbook and that if you don’t have one you are a loser.  Not to brag, but I’ve been ahead of the game since I was wearing oversized bedazzled sweatshirts with matching leggings.  Considering my history, how could I not end up working in an industry that requires me to be wired?

Melissa Eddy

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2 Responses to “How I Became the Coolest 6th Grader”

  1. 1 Mel's Dad

    Hi Mel,

    Googled you and found this entry. Thought I’d reply just to potentially embarass you. I never really found much to like in Java, but did become competent in Javascript as part of my doctoral work in Computing Technology in Education. I got discouraged with that direction; here’s a copy-and-paste of my last dissertation idea paper from ’02:

    Problem Statement
    Research has yet to test the theory that learning disability symptoms are outcomes of other problems (Zera and Lucian, 2001) for students with learning disabilities in computer-infused higher education environments. It may be that aspects of such environments appealingly mediate symptoms of learning disability, as perceived by instructors of computing technology competencies.
    Learning disability theorists believe that service providers in higher education are rarely expected to take a human engineering approach to implement accommodations for learning disabled learners, or feign ignorance to avoid making changes (McGrady, Lerner, and Boscardin, 2001, p.189). Institutions of higher education need to know whether participatory, learner-centered instructional design by their providers of instruction in technology competencies is an effective, efficient, and appealing approach among shareholders for providing accommodative instruction. Such knowledge may confirm or challenge theory on which practice is based.
    Goal Statement

    The goal of this study is to apply formative research to participatory design providers of instructional services to identify its effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal for developing learner-centered instruction in technology competencies for students with learning disabilities in higher education. Formative research to identify preferability of an instructional design theory for accomplishing particular learning goals tests weaknesses in applications of theory that may suggest weaknesses in the theory. This study will research an in vivo naturalistic case (Reigeluth and Frick, 1999), as described below.
    First, a design theory will be selected. This study will research theories of participatory design of computer interfaces and of learner-centered instructional design theory as applied by practitioners at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. Second, a case featuring application of both theories will be selected for the research. The researcher will create a list of the characteristic features of the two design theories. The researcher will create observation rubrics from the lists. The researcher will secure experts who will validate the lists and rubrics. The researcher will create pre-questionnaires and post-questionnaires for identifying both the appeal of the design approaches among instructor participants and information technology and academic administrative shareholders as well as the perceived efficiency of the approaches among the administrative shareholders. The researcher will determine statistical methodology for identifying effectiveness of the design approaches through analyzing student participant intranet browsing patterns (Montgomery and Faloutsos, 2001). The researcher will solicit prospective instructor participants from site program administrators to serve as cases for study.
    Third, formative data will be collected and analyzed. Instructor participants will complete a pre-questionnaire giving their initial perceptions of the appeal and anticipated effectiveness of participatory design and learner-centered instructional design. Administrative shareholders will complete a pre-questionnaire giving their expectations for the efficiency of participatory design and learner-centered instructional design for achieving the technology competencies instructional goals. Instructor participants will videotape sessions with volunteer student participants of participatory, learner-centered instructional sessions in technology competencies. Rubric-scorers will view the videotapes and score the design sessions for observable characteristic features of the two design theories. The researcher will tabulate the scored rubrics to identify valid instances of use of the design approaches. Instructor participants and administrative shareholders will complete the pre-questionnaire, modified into a post-questionnaire. The researcher will analyze pre-questionnaire and post-questionnaire responses to determine both the appeal of the design approaches among instructor participants and information technology and academic administrative shareholders and of perceived efficiency of the approaches among the administrative shareholders. The researcher will analyze student participant intranet browsing patterns to determine effectiveness of the design approaches.
    Fourth, the researcher will develop a tentative theory integrating the preferability of participatory design for providing learner-centered, accommodative instruction in technology competencies to students with learning disabilities in higher education.

    No potential advisor seemingly understood this, nor did my employer at the time (Landmark College, who “laid me off” later that year). The title of that idea paper was “Participatory, Learner-Centered Instruction in Technology Competencies for Learning Disabled Learners.” The title of the one before that was “Attributions for Learning Difficulties and Relationships to Attitudes Towards Use of Assistive Computing Technologies among Landmark College Students.” I actually conducted preliminary research based on this abstract:

    ” Some students with learning disabilities in higher education have external locus of control orientations. Some students with external locus of control orientations have fewer positive attitudes toward computers than do students with internal locus of control orientations. Previous computer experience is related to positive computer attitudes. Understanding the sources of computer attitudes can help identify educational interventions. The goal of this dissertation project is to identify relationships among academic locus of control, computer experience, and attitudes toward computers for entering students at Landmark College, who all have diagnosed learning disabilities or disorders.
    This correlational study will involve administration and analysis of survey instruments. The population will be entering Landmark College students, all of who have learning disabilities or disorders. Subjects’ academic loci of control will be identified with the Academic Locus of Control (ALC) Scale (Trice, 1985) and attitudes toward computers will be identified with the Computer Attitude Scale (Loyd and Gressard, 1984). Subjects’ self-reported computer experience will be determined from answers to forced-choice questions. It is expected that there will not be a significant relationship between academic locus of control and attitudes toward computers. However, it is expected that there will be significant relationships between both academic locus of control and age and between age and computer anxiety for the study population. It is also expected that there will be a significant positive relationship between self-reported subjective computer experience and attitudes toward computers, especially computer confidence. Identifying relationships among academic locus of control, computer experience, and attitudes toward computers will help suggest educational interventions.”

    Yes, you’re an addict. Yes, I’m a geek. Translated, that means you have some unfinished work and so do I. But so does everyone.

    I’m taking one of the three computers to WinCycle tomorrow. I got a “free” MP3 player from Staples and have nearly filled it with classical piano music from CDs.

    I’ve been reading a book titled “Embracing Your Father” which I’ll send to you when I’m finished, as you might find it interesting…. There, if you weren’t embarrased yet, you are now. But it’s not how you feel; it’s how you look. — Buster Poindexter

    Yes, you learned about “ICQing” when I did during my first doctoral term in ’97.


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