How Has Technology Changed in Schools?

Some schools first started introducing computers in the early 1960s, with major funding coming from the government through the Vocational Education Act of 1963, which distributed educational funds specifically for technology in schools. However, many of the mainframes and minicomputers at the time were too large or too cumbersome for the classrooms, and were mainly used by administration and counseling faculty.

Today, it’s a completely different technological world, where students not only talk to people across the world synchronously, but also learn how to code the programs that sometimes enable them, too.

Technology of the Past

Many schools have offered automotive technology, metal, and woodworking shops prior to the introduction of computers. But since the introduction of BASIC as a programming language during the 1960s, technology has expanded to be not only a tool in the classroom, but sometimes a core piece of a student’s education.

Most of what spurred the rapid expansion of technology in schools started in the 1990s with the sudden popularity of the Internet, which also led to the vast sharing of, and access to, information. Now, the web is being implemented in almost every course of study.

Mathematics and Sciences

One of the current systems in schools involves SMARTboards, or projection based boards, that act as white boards, using electronic signals to display electronic equivalents of markers or chalk. Furthermore, since the early 2000s, these boards have seen promising use in physics, with MIT introducing a sketching board that would apply physics calculations to objects drawn on the board.

Videos and access to scientific journals and studies have presented students with new ways to learn about scientific theories and concepts. Updated textbooks can be downloaded daily to tablet devices, and even students’ personal phones, so that information is current. Experiments too dangerous to run in the classroom are easily viewed through videos, or even ran through computation programs that can predict the results.

Language Arts and Social Studies

Writing used to be performed completely by hand, and eventually even by typewriters. Even with the introduction of word processing programs and equipment, printing out consumed valuable resources and ran up supply costs. Although electricity and servers cost money, too, essays and other writing can easily be composed online, edited online, and graded online. Students can share documents through online storage systems and have them seen instantaneously.

Translators, websites, and instant messaging programs allow students to communicate and share ideas with students around the world. Social studies programs can include synchronous or asynchronous conversations with students around the world. Uploaded videos give immediate access to primary and secondary sources.

Technology and Careers

More than anything else though, what’s really changed in the schools is the focus of technology on future jobs. Video and audio editing, digital photography, business, entertainment, database, and other IT jobs are going to be a staple of the economy in the upcoming future. Many schools offer programming classes, and some even make them mandatory, because of the important programming will soon have.

Where keyboarding and typing skills used to be classes offered for those that just wanted to improve their job chances, computer literacy is quickly becoming required for almost any job. Basic knowledge of HTML has even been seen as a requirement for some secretarial jobs so that job postings can be updated, or new developments can be reported.

While it used to be pocket calculators were a technological advancement that made classes easier, many of those calculators would be obsolete compared to the math classes taught at the middle school level today. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that, to research and gather information, and be prepared to handle a majority of current jobs and jobs that will be created because of the technological upswing, today’s technology in schools may be outdated within the next decade.

For more information, take a look at “Then Versus Now: How Technology in Schools Has Changed Over Time“.