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Phoenix Forward magazine

The evolution of technology in the classroom

From yesteryear’s chalk slates to today’s iPad® tablets, technology as a teaching tool has come a long way.

“I have seen many changes in classroom technology since I started my first job in the 1980s,” says Kathy Cook, director of educational technology for the University of Phoenix College of Education and a former public school teacher.

“Some technology tools are quickly becoming outdated because the same thing can be accomplished with an app on a smartphone or a tablet,” Cook notes.

She frequently encounters teachers who resist integrating technology into their lesson plans, but she believes it’s important to embrace these tools.

“Teachers need to step out of their comfort zones,” she says, and “integrate new technologies that can enhance teaching and learning.”

High-tech classrooms are the norm

iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
YouTube is a trademark of Google Inc.

The history of classroom technology

1890: Chalkboard
A teaching staple since the 19th century, it allowed teachers to share information with the whole classroom, though they had to erase it and start over when they ran out of space.9

1925: Filmstrips
These projected still images on an advancing piece of film, accompanied by an audio recording. The technology remained popular through the 1980s.

1957: B.F. Skinner teaching machine
This type of machine issued standardized questions and dispensed a candy reward for the correct answer.

1960: Overhead projector
Used by the U.S. military in World War II, this improvement on the chalkboard allowed instructors to use reusable printed transparencies and notes written with pen while facing the audience.

1970: Educational programming
The establishment of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in 1970 brought educational TV programs like "Sesame Street" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" into classrooms and homes.

1972: Scantrons
Scantrons used machine imaging technology to "read" multiple-choice answer sheets filled in with No. 2 pencils, saving teachers grading time.

1977: Desktop computers
With the advent of the Apple II in 1977 and other personal computers in the 1980s. a generation of kids learned math and geography from computer games like "The Oregon Trail" and "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"

1996: Internet
Once an obscure computer network used mostly by academics and NASA physicists, the Web gained wider acceptance in homes and schools by the mid-1990s - and teachers soon realized its vast educational potential.

1999: Interactive whiteboards
These blend handwritten class notes with interactive technology. Early versions were wired to desktop computers, while the latest models can connect with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and be projected onto any surface.

2004: YouTube™
Educators have used this Internet staple since the mid-2000s to upload and share free instructional videos, including the popular Khan Academy tutorials, with classrooms worldwide.

2005: Audience-response devices
The iClicker of 2005 allowed instructors to poll students on multiple-choice questions during lectures and get results back in real time.

2007-10: Smartphones and tablets
Mobile devices give students and teachers more capability in the palm of their hands than astronauts took to the moon 40 years ago.

Today: Interactive mobile apps
There are a multitude of educational apps that can be used for teaching and learning anytime, anywhere for all levels.