Computer Assisted Learning

               In 1993, when I was five years old, my family purchased our first computer. This machine amazed me, even if its appearance was gray, dull, and completely unappealing compared to today’s colorful computers. Our computer did not utilize a mouse so every time I wanted to play a game I had to have my father navigate through the folders for me. Eventually I had to learn how to use the computer by myself because my father’s job would have him away from home for months at a time, and my mother did not know how to access the specific games I wanted to play. As I grew older, computer hardware and software quickly continued to grow more complex, but I was able to keep up with this growth due to schools teaching computer classes and my own interest in them outside of school. I do not know if that first time I used a computer on my own had any impact, but I am currently finishing my Computer Information Systems Associate’s Degree here at Chaffey.

My family owned our first computer until it died when I was eight years old, and we didn’t purchase a new one until I was ten. When our first computer died, it was like losing a family member. By the time I was ten, most computers came with a mouse and the internet was becoming more accessible to the average home user, and when we purchased our new computer I was already accustomed to the mouse through use on school computers. My school had some computers connected to the internet for student usage, but students in the fifth grade and below were required to have a permission slip signed before they could use them. I was not able to use those computers until I was in the sixth grade, but my family’s computer was connected to the internet so I just accessed it at home. It may sound weird to say now, but I had to learn how to use the internet by myself if I wanted to find information about a personal interest or to learn about something for school. The internet may be full of competent search engines like Google and Yahoo! now, but in 1998 I was stuck with most search engines that did not work effectively if they worked at all. Currently I can search for a subject on Google and have over hundreds of thousands of results that cover my search phrase or contain it, but in the past it seemed like you had to search multiple times using similar search phrases to find what you were looking for.

When I was twelve years old, our computer began to experience problems and we left it with a family friend to see if they could fix it; it would be over five years before I knew enough about computers to figure out the problem and fix it myself. Not being a patient individual, my father gave up on having our computer fixed and purchased a new one three months later. It was at this time that my school began to require students to type out their essays. I had spent enough time using computers by this point in my life to type out an essay, but I had not learned how to properly type without looking at the keyboard and using more than one finger to type. Through a combination of taking typing classes at school and a children’s typing game at home, I began to learn how to type without looking at the keyboard and while having both hands on the keyboard at the same time.

In my freshman year of high school, when I was fourteen years old, I signed up for a basic Microsoft Office computer course, and it helped prepare me for future classes I would take that required the use of the various Microsoft Office programs. The class began with teaching students how to type, but it was not long before the focus shifted to one of the specific Office programs every few weeks and the typing portion remained a side project. I did not take any more computer focused courses until my senior year of high school, when I was seventeen. During this last year of high school, half of my classes were computer oriented, but they were all completely different subjects. I learned how to network computers in Cisco, how to properly take disassemble and reassemble computers in Computer Hardware & Repair, and how to code programs in Java & Visual Basic. In the middle of my second semester I went with a group of students from the Cisco course to a Cisco competition between other high schools. The competition was held at DeVry University and sponsored by Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The competition had different events including assembling a computer and making it work, creating cables and testing them, and properly configuring a small office network. We had enough students to form two teams, and at the end of the day we earned first and second place using the knowledge we gained from our Cisco class. These three separate classes and the Cisco competition, due to being targeted at teenagers, only taught the basics of each subject, but I learned enough in each that I was not completely lost when taking similar courses in college.

I graduated from high school in June 2006, and I started going to Chaffey in August 2006. I cannot remember which computer oriented courses I took my first semester, but I can remember working hard to pass a few of the classes. Many classes are easier than others and some instructors are more forgiving than others, but studying outside of class will always be beneficial for later courses. While taking breaks from college throughout the years due to varying reasons, I had to retake classes that I neglected or were more difficult than I first assumed, a few more than once, but I can say that I have completed all the necessary computer classes to earn my Computer Information Systems Associate’s Degree. I do not know what I will do in the future or if I will even pursue a CIS oriented job right away, but I do know that I still have much to learn about computers.