The Evolution of Technology in the Classroom

Technology has always been at the forefront of human education. From the days of carving figures on rock walls to today, when most students are equipped with several portable technological devices at any given time, technology continues to push educational capabilities to new levels. In looking at where educational methods and tools have come from to where they are going in the future,

technology’s importance in the classroom is evident now more than ever.

A History of Classroom Technology :The Primitive Classroom

In the Colonial years, wooden paddles with printed lessons, called Horn-Books, were used to assist students in learning verses. Over 200


years later, in 1870, technology advanced to include the Magic Lantern, a primitive version of a slide projector that projected images printed on glass plates. By the time World War I ended, around 8,000 lantern slides were circulating through the Chicago public school system. By the time the Chalkboard came around in 1890, followed by the pencil in 1900, it was clear that students were hungry for more advanced educational tools.

Radio in the 1920s sparked an entirely new wave of learning; on-air classes began popping up for any student within listening range.

Next came the overhead projector in 1930, followed by the ballpoint pen in 1940 and headphones in 1950.

Videotapes arrived on the scene in 1951, creating a new and exciting method of instruction.

The Skinner Teaching Machine produced a combined system of teaching and testing, providing reinforcement for correct answers so that the student can move on to the next lesson.

The photocopier (1959) and handheld calculator (1972) entered the classrooms next, allowing for mass pr


oduction of material on the fly and quick mathematical calculations.

The Scantron system of testing, introduced by Michael Sokolski n 1972, allowed educators to grade tests more quickly and efficiently.

The pre-computer years were formative in the choices made for computers in the years following. Immediate response-type systems (video, calculator, Scantron) had become necessary, and quick production of teaching materials, using the photocopier, had become a standard. The U.S. Department of Education reports that high school enrollment was only 10% in 1900, but by 1992 had expanded to 95%. The number of students in college in 1930 was around 1 million, but by 2012 had grown to a record 21.6 million. Teachers needed new methods of instruction and testing, and students were looking for new ways to communicate, study, and learn


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