Sometimes, it feels like it was just yesterday that I was doing my HSC… and then I wake up to reality and realise that it was 13 years ago. However, some things never change.

It was doing the HSC in 2001 when I understood the importance of sharing and connecting with others. 
Going to a high school in a small country town where there were 64 students in my year had its strengths, but the main weakness for me was that I felt as though I was in a small bubble with no idea of how my work and progress compared to Yr 12 students in other towns and cities. 

I was one of the earlier adopters of Internet in town at that stage with my revolutionary dial-up modem, and I remember using yahoo to search for HSC related resources.
It wasn’t long before I came across two websites: hscboardz.cjb.net (which no longer exists) and fatmuscle.cjb.net (found an archived page)

Hscboardz was a forum where Yr 12 students around NSW could post questions and answers about various subjects, which quickly turned into a support network for each other. Fatmuscle was a site created by a generous Yr 12 student, Ian Keong, who hosted various resources, notes, etc for other Yr 12 students. 

Reading essays from students who were attending schools like Barker, James Ruse, St George Girls, etc opened my eyes and it hit me pretty hard that I was just a very small fish in a very big sea. I spent hours, firstly on the HSCboardz, and then on ICQ chatting to a few of the HSCboardz regulars.

Fast forward to 2002, when I got accepted to UNSW, I had to move five hours away knowing virtually noone but my sisters in Sydney. To celebrate the end of Yr 12, the HSCboardz regulars organised a meet-up, so that we could all finally meet each other in person. I remember feeling quite anxious about it because of the horror stories I’d hear about meeting people from the internet. I figured that since it was a group meeting, and I had a pretty good background on most of the people going, it would be safe. 

I am so glad that I did, otherwise, I would not have made friends with Ian, who introduced me to a whole new group of friends when I first moved to Sydney – most of whom I still hang out with regularly.

A couple of years after the HSC, Ian and three other friends (James, Mark and Tim) created what is now boredofstudies.org – a one stop shop for Yr 12 students to support, teach and learn from each other. It has taken a life of its own since they first created it and as a teacher now, I think it is great to see so many Yr 12 students supporting each other and sharing instead of being viciously competitive. 

Over a decade later, here I am as a teacher, still using the internet and social media like Twitter to share and connect with other educators. Would I have been so comfortable and open to using social media and connect with other educators if I had never used HSCBoardz? Probably not, although I would like to think that it would have just taken a little longer to warm up to the experience.

Just like the days of being a HSC student, I have connected with so many people outside of my school. Yesterday, I got the chance to meet Eddie Woo whilst he was in town for a conference. I had a great time drinking my banana, honey and cinnamon milkshake and doing a bit of shop talk with him. I’m constantly grateful for the wonders of technology, the internet (even ICQ… RIP) for their role in bringing such inspiring, wonderful people in my life. 

 

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