The evolution of classroom technology

This week we talked about the drastic changes in technology use in the classroom that have occurred throughout history. I did some research to uncover what significant technological innovations have taken place.

So let’s take it back to the beginning… 

Chalkboards & Whiteboards 

Whilst browsing the internet I found that the chalkboard was invented in 1801 and was widely used in American classrooms by the mid 1900s. When I think of technology I only think of computers, tvs and iPads, which demonstrates my identity as a Digital native (I have grown up in the digital age). Technology outside of digital technology does in fact exist! It was only 70 years ago that the Digital Revolution began.

Although I think that digital technology has enhanced education, basic technologies such as the white board continue to serve an important purpose. The white board- a more developed form of the chalk board, was invented in 1950 and this piece of technology is still a staple in the classroom. I cannot think of one lesson throughout all my years of schooling in which a teacher did not use a whiteboard. The whiteboard is an excellent collaborative tool. It has stood the test of time and I believe that it will always be useful.



Although invented in 1920, the television began circulating throughout classrooms in the USA in the 1950s. I think educators are divided about the utility of this tool. Some find it to be an effective way to communicate information to students in an engaging way. Others believe that it is “lazy” of the teacher and diminishes the importance of teachers within the classroom. In fact, when the television first emerged, there were fears that they would replace teachers. We know now that is not the case! However, I think some teachers use videos/movies as a replacement for other activities rather than as a supplement to them, which can be detrimental to learning.

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

Visual media should be:

  • Current
  • Engaging- I had too many experiences with dull videos that featured one person talking for an extended period of time shown by teachers
  • Interactive: In order for students to learn through media they need to interact with the media, not just be passive observers- hence the beauty of Transmedia!!


The world wide web was developed in 1990 by a British researcher when he created  Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). The internet completely changed the nature of education. Before the internet students had to scour books, articles and other primary resources in order to extract information. The internet has enabled students to access information in a matter of seconds from almost anywhere in the world. The internet has both advantages and disadvantages:


  • Research is less time consuming, which allows more time for analysis and evaluation
  • Books are only published periodically, which can result in outdated information whilst information on the Internet is constantly being updated
  • Students can access educational resources from home- they don’t always need to have a teacher present
  • Distance learning is made possible for students from rural areas
  • Students can communicate with both teachers and other students at any time



  • The internet is largely unregulated, which results in information that is not always research based
  • Students have to sift through endless amounts of information, which can be time consuming
  • The easily accessible nature of information may reduce depth of understanding
  • The internet is a place in which bullying, trolls, stalking and crime can thrive
  • The internet stores private information about students
  • Ability to focus and be present may be diminished due to the need for constant stimulation that the Internet provides



It is the responsibility of educators to equip students with the skills to navigate the internet in a way that enhances their learning and is also safe. The internet is not an inherently negative tool but it can be abused and can students can fall victim to it if they are not adequately prepared.

Smart phones

The use of smart phones as an educational tool is a recent phenomena. I sympathise with teachers who feel uncomfortable using mobile phones in the classroom. It is easy to dismiss them as a device that distracts from learning. However, resisting this form of technology and even banning it can be detrimental to learning. Students will use their phones at school no matter what restrictions are placed upon them. It is therefore more beneficial for teachers to harness this tool for educational purposes. Applications/platforms have been developed for purely educational purposes (e.g. Kahoot), whilst others can be manipulated for educational purposes (e.g. Twitter). Embedding smart phone use in classroom activities will likely enhance engagement and understanding amongst students.

An example of how smartphones can enhance learning in the classroom can be seen in this clip!

My technology timeline & screencast: