How Computing Technology has Evolved in the Classroom
It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed an unusual era of education where students have had to adapt to remote learning. This year has brought about an unprecedented shift in how students, parents, and educators view traditional in-person schooling. Technology like Zoom, online learning management systems, and innovative applications that allow for communication and monitoring have all made it possible to continue education, but this is not where technology’s role in education began. In this article, we will explore the evolution of computing technology in classrooms over the past six decades.
The 1970s: Floppy Disks Enter the Scene
In the 1970s, technological advances began making their entry into classrooms, including the introduction of handheld calculators that enabled students and educators alike to access digital calculating power. These were quickly followed by word processors that enabled people to store hundreds of pages on floppy disks, a massive improvement on previous document storage media. The introduction of Apple computers in 1975 changed the game by creating the first prototype of a computer with a built-in keyboard and television screen monitor, giving consumers a glimpse of what the future of computing would become.
The 1980s: Personal Computers Take Root in Schools
The introduction of personal computers in the 1970s was slow to take off until IBM introduced its version in 1981, but once they became popular, schools started to invest millions of dollars in computers and software. This marked a significant shift in how the education sector viewed computer usage, and school-specific programs like typing programs, math and logic games, and SAT prep software became increasingly common. The first graphing calculators, which could visualize complex mathematical computations, also emerged in the 1980s.
The 1990s: The Birth of the World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee, a member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, launched the World Wide Web in 1991, which marked a new era in the internet age. While the invention of the internet preceded this development, the advent of the web allowed for information sharing and learning like never before. Google started in 1996, and this year saw two million websites online, providing more access to learning for everyone. This time also marked some fundamental shifts in education methodologies and our broader understanding of technology and digital literacy.
- The first online degree program was developed by the University of Phoenix in 1989.
- The introduction of Blackboard LMS created a new era of online learning in 2001.
- Smartboards and handheld devices like iPads have revolutionized in-classroom learning in recent years.
In essence, computer technology has transformed education dramatically, creating new opportunities for learning and collaboration, and access to critical resources. The integration of technology in classrooms has the power to create more inclusive and flexible learning environments, preparing students for the future they will inherit. However, the evolution of digital literacy and access to technology must remain a priority for policymakers and educators.
Throughout the past six decades, computing technology has brought about significant changes in classrooms worldwide. While it may have taken the COVID-19 pandemic to demonstrate the true potential of remote learning and other technologies, this should not overshadow the innovations that have been taking place for years. Technology has opened up new doors to learning and greater educational accessibility for a more diverse range of students, creating an era of inclusive and equitable education that embraces the future.