Over the last 50 years, the evolution of technology in the classroom has changed as rapidly as the technology in our personal lives. But classroom technology goes much further back than 50 years.
In fact, some of the tools listed below you may not even think of as technology, but were groundbreaking at the time and led to future inventions that improved the classroom experience for both teachers and students.
The Evolution of Technology in the Classroom
Technology is always changing to solve problems and to make life easier. The classroom, one of the most important places in our society, is no different.
Applied to students specifically to help make teaching and learning easier and more efficient, the history of technology in the classroom is filled with inventions and enhancements, ranging from pencils and ballpoint pens to interactive whiteboards and tablets.
Follow along on the timeline below to see how technology has evolved in the classroom and how the classroom has changed to accommodate new technology.
1564 – The Pencil
While the pencil was invented in 1564, it wasn’t mass produced until 1900, which was another big step forward in helping make classrooms more effective, as the pencil replaced the slate and chalk.
1654 – Slide Rule
A prequel to the calculator, the slide rule was originally designed for scientists and engineers. In 1950, it made its way to the classroom and was very common until the invention of the calculator.
1650 – Horn Book
The horn book was a wooden paddle with lessons printed on it that usually included an alphabet and a religious verse, which children would copy to learn how to write.
1801 - Slates and Chalk
Entering the 1800s, paper was still too expensive to buy for many families and school districts, which meant they needed another way to write in the classroom. Personal slates and chalk solved that problem and allowed for students to erase any mistakes.
1870 – Magic Lantern
This was the first attempt at the projector as the Magic Lantern projected images printed on glass plates onto walls. By the end of World War I, Chicago’s public schools had about 8,000 lantern slides.
1873 – Typewriter
Christopher L. Sholes first introduced the typewriter in 1873, though his version was limited to only capital letters. By the end of the 1800s, other competitors offered both uppercase and lowercase letters.
1890 – Chalkboard
One of the most important inventions in terms of educational technology, the blackboard is an important part of nearly every classroom, regardless of age or grade, though the popularity of interactive whiteboards is growing.
1905 – Stereoscope
A prequel to virtual reality and VR glasses, the stereoscope was a three-dimensional viewing tool that was a popular source of entertainment. The Keystone Viewing Company, which manufactured them, marketed stereoscopes to schools and created hundreds of images meant to illustrate points during lectures.
1925 – Radio
The radio allowed organizations to send lessons to schools through a radio station. New York City’s Board of Education was actually the first to do so and over the next couple decades, lessons through the airwaves became the first type of distance learning.
1925 – Film Projector
Designed to bring movies to the classroom, the film projector was used in classrooms up until the early 1980s. Accompanied by an audio recording, the projector displayed still images that had to be manually changed as you advanced through the film strip.
1930 – Overhead Projector
The overhead projector allowed teachers to write specific points on reusable transparency sheets while facing the class, as opposed to turning their back to the class when writing on the blackboard.
1940 – Ballpoint Pen
Originally invented in 1888, the ballpoint pen didn’t gain recognition as being an important part of the classroom, and life in general, until 1940.
1940 – Mimeograph
One of the first copy machines, the mimeograph allowed teachers and school staff to print copies of various materials by cranking the ink filled drum. It was also referred to as a ditto machine.
1950 – Headphones
Introduced as a way to reinforce concepts and class materials, headphones also offered a chance for schools to create language labs where students studied foreign languages.
1951 – Videotape
The first videotape demonstration occurred in California and eventually allowed schools to offer visual and audio learning to students that moved as opposed to still frames. In future decades, teachers used videotapes as a way to show documentaries and movies to reinforce classroom lessons.
1957 – Skinner Teaching Machine
Created by behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, the teaching machine allowed students to learn at their own pace. His teaching machine varied slightly from others that had been around since the 1920s by offering questions and answers on paper discs.
1959 – Photocopier
Though not nearly as important today, the photocopier helped teachers and administrators to quickly and easily create copies of classroom materials. Almost immediately, it replaced the mimeograph and other similar machines.
1960 – Liquid Paper
Nowadays, all it takes to correct mistakes while typing is hitting the backspace key. But back in 1960 typewriters were still the only game in town and mistakes happened. Liquid paper helped many students easily fix mistakes.
1970 – Hand-Held Calculator
Many teachers worried that using calculators would undermine basic learning skills, which helped delay the initial rollout. However, very quickly the hand-held calculator became widely popular and paved the way for today’s calculators.
1972 – The Scantron
Created by Michael Sokolski, the Scantron system of testing allowed educators to grade multiple choice tests more quickly and efficiently by putting answer sheets into the machine.
1977 – Apple II
Even though it had no internet access, the Apple II allowed students to learn geography and solve math problems by using computer games on floppy disks.
1980 – Personal Computer
The personal computer and Plato computer were introduced and targeted to the education market as well. These were both used for a variety of learning purposes, but their most important use may have been replacing typewriters.
1985 – CD-ROM Drive
The CD-ROM Drive allowed a whole encyclopedia to be saved on one disk, which is one of the many reasons it eventually replaced the floppy disk and is still used on computers today.
1990 – World Wide Web
Though invented in 1990 and released in 1991, the internet wasn’t available to the general public until 1993. At that time, all connections were dial up that occupied your telephone line and offered a very slow connection that couldn’t handle video.
Still, the access to information and to people from around the world helped its popularity explode and change the world.
1999 – Interactive Whiteboard
Still being rolled out to many schools and classrooms today, the interactive whiteboard uses a touch sensitive screen, a projector, and a computer as a combination of past classroom technologies, the chalkboard and overhead projector.
2005 – iClicker
Though there are many similar options available now, the iClicker was one of the first tools that allowed teachers to take polls in real time, offer quizzes, and either share the results or keep them private, and take attendance.
2010 – iPad
A couple years after the smartphone was invented, iPads and other tablets were much more accepted in the classroom as learning tools. Students can use educational apps and allows teachers to easily track students’ progress.
What’s Next for Tech in the Classroom
The future of technology in the classroom is almost certainly virtual reality, augmented reality, or some combination of the two. Similar to what stereoscopes did so many years ago, these different tools will allow students to get a feel for specific topics from lessons and lectures in more engaging and realistic way.
Plus, there will be plenty of opportunities for distance learners to connect with on-campus learners through a single virtual management system.
Which New Technology Has Most Improved Classroom Instruction?
Computers have certainly been the most important technology in the classroom because of the other amount of lessons, course materials, and research that can come from it.
For instance, word processing, spreadsheets, and many other tools are extremely important, even before you take into account the videos, research, maps, and everything else the internet offers to reinforce lessons.
However, after following the history of technology in the classroom, it’s difficult to choose just one that has most improved classroom instruction. This is especially true because so many of these advances have become integral parts of the classroom and of helping students learn, that they are indistinguishable from the overall learning experience and the classroom experience.
Benefits of Technology in the Classroom
Some of the benefits of using technology in the classroom include:
- Helping students learn at their own pace
- Improved retention rate
- Preparing students to use technology outside of the classroom
- Makes learning more fun
- Reinforce lectures and other class materials
- More personalized learning
Used in conjunction with lessons, tests, lectures, and exercises, technology continues to be one of the driving factors in effectively preparing students for their future.
Will Technology Replace Teachers?
Even with all the technology that is sure to appear over the next few decades, teachers will still be needed. In fact, some experts believe that teachers will be more important in order to offer insight into why particular students are struggling and be thoughtful educators.
Discover How Technology Can Change Curriculum and Instruction
Are you interested in becoming a teacher? There are plenty of masters in teacher education programs available and master’s in education in curriculum and instruction for you to choose from.
Plus, you could also complete the form on this page to get match to the perfect program for you.
Or, continue reading to discover the types of teaching master’s degree.
Northcentral UniversityDoctor of Education in Instructional Design (EDD-ID) Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Curriculum and Teaching Doctor of Education - Instructional Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Instructional Leadership Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Teaching Doctor of Philosophy in Instructional Design (PhD-ID) Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching Master of Science in Instructional Design (MSID) Master of Education - Instructional Leadership Master of Education - Curriculum and Teaching
University of West AlabamaMaster of Education, Elementary Education K-6 Master of Education, Instructional Leadership
Grand Canyon UniversityM.A. in Curriculum and Instruction
Purdue University GlobalMaster of Science in Instructional Technology - Adults
Walden UniversityMS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12) Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment PhD in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation PhD in Education - Learning, Instruction & Innovation
Full Sail UniversityInstructional Design and Technology Masters - Online
Sacred Heart UniversityMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
Capella UniversityEdD - Curriculum and Instruction MS - Competency-Based Instruction PhD - Instructional Design for Online Learning MS Ed - Instructional Design for Online Learning PhD - Curriculum and Instruction MS - Curriculum and Instruction
California State University, NorthridgeMaster of Arts in Instructional Design
Liberty University OnlineMED: Curriculum and Instruction: English (Non-Licensure) PHD: Education: Curriculum and Instruction MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Student Services (Non-Licensure) MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Law (Non-Licensure) MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Middle Grade (Non-Licensure) MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Leadership (Non-Licensure) MED: Curriculum and Instruction: History (Non-Licensure) MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Gifted Education MED: Curriculum and Instruction: General Education (Non-Licensure) MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Elementary Education (Non-Licensure)
University of Colorado - BoulderMA in Curriculum & Instruction: Math & Science
Colorado Christian UniversityCurriculum and Instruction, MA Curriculum and Instruction, M.A. - Emphasis in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Curriculum and Instruction, M.A. - Emphasis in Alternative Licensing
Houston Baptist UniversityMaster of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
University of South CarolinaDoctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Louisiana State University In ShreveportMaster of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Reading Literature Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in ESL Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Educational Technology Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction General Emphasis