How technology transformed the classroom

No matter what setting or establishment, technology has always been a vital part of anyone’s education – and they have worked hand in hand for years. Starting with the pen and paper, progressing to the desktop computer and now to the mobile tablet, technology is an important part of how we all learn new subjects and skills.

The technological shift in the 20th century

Through the introduction of projected images within the classroom, technology revolutionised the way we learn. First introduced in 1925, the Filmstrip Projector could be used depending on the subject being taught, helping students visualise the subject.

The mimeograph and the radio were also useful tools that could be used in the classroom. Introduced in 1940, the mimeograph allowed teachers to copy and distribute educational materials to students, while the radio could be used to transit lessons to other classrooms in other areas.

Most notably popularised in America, the slide ruler would be known to us as an old-fashioned ruler, used in mathematics to calculate sums. Replacing the mimeograph as a more efficient alternative, the photocopier was also used to help speed up and quantify the distribution of educational materials.

Advancing education and learning, here are some of the most notable examples of developing technologies within the education sector:

  • 1960s. Although it did not become popular within classrooms for another ten years, the calculator was introduced in this decade.
  • 1970s. Used as a device to mark exam papers and other question papers, the Scantron machine has lasted to the present day as a way of speeding up the marking process.
  • 1980s. Personal computers were starting to be introduced and learners could use them to help improve their knowledge of a particular subject.
  • 1990s. While replacing traditional blackboards with interactive whiteboards, desktop computers were also becoming prevalent within most households, helping students to complete homework tasks on office-based packages.

Turning digital

Although the 20th century saw dramatic technological advancements in such a short space of time, with the invention of smartphones, YouTube, tablets and laptops, no decade has seen such radical changes in the classroom as the 2000s. GPS Installations – specialists in audio visual products and public address system installations – are also revolutionising how to best implement interactive technologies within the classroom. Considered as the digital revolution, integrating smart technologies into the classroom has changed the way educators teach and how students learn.

A classroom was divided into two groups (A and B) in a study conducted in 2015. Both groups were asked to research a topic and present their findings to the whole group, however, group A were not allowed mobile technologies whereas group B were. What was discovered is that group B divided into sub-groups, whereas group A stayed together. What this suggests is that technology can help aid integrated organisational structures within learning groups, which leads to more specific and concentrated learning, in comparison to the generalised learning and collaboration witnessed in group A.

Overall, statistics suggest that teachers’ responses to smart technologies were positive overall. In the US, 86% claimed that technology was an essential part of a student’s education. Furthermore, 92% felt that they could have more technology within their classroom to help the quality of their educational delivery improve.

Both students and teachers feel as though they are able to make a cost saving as a result of smart technologies in classroom – and many feel as though smart technologies have improved the quality of lessons. Electronic copies of eBooks and other digital-based learning materials are 33 – 35% cheaper than their physical alternatives. Increasing their chances of passing an exam, tablets and other interactive digital devices have improved literacy and numeracy skills.

Even though digital hardware has helped to improve the quality of education overall, some still believe that digital technologies have become a distraction in the room. This is because children can be distracted by social media apps and other interactive games when they should be learning. In a study conducted by A Common Sense Media, it was reported that 71% of teaching staff felt that a student’s attention span had been compromised by smart devices such as mobiles and tablets. What this suggests is that as digital technologies have been adopted into our classrooms, we still haven’t found the correct balance between utilising digital technologies as a source for quality education, and making sure that they aren’t being used to the extent where they become a distraction.

All educators should ensure that quality education and best practice is being delivered at all times. This is why the digital revolution has benefited the classroom – even though its impact has been received both positively and negatively. If education institutions can get the balance right between interaction and distraction, there is no reason why digital technologies can’t transform the learning capabilities of young people.