8 radical technological changes which (shock!) rocked education

and caused us to deeply question our pedagogical practices and principles:

1. The candle

Reading was suddenly possible all the way through the night.

This was followed by the light bulb and the florescent tube.

Eyestrain created eyeglasses.

2. The scroll

These aren't in historical time reference order, by the way.

Recording text which could be stored and shared.

This was followed by the mind-blowing concept of paper.

3. The fountain pen

Preceded by the quill, followed by the biro.

Not dirtying our fingers every time we wrote a sentence was a breakthrough, indeed, shame about their environmental impact.

Actually shame about the environmental impact of all these technologies.

4. The blackboard and chalk

Granting our teacher vanities with the power of erase.

Followed by, more recently, the whiteboard and markers... bringing colour to education (and therefore losing quality because learning is a serious business).

5. The typewriter

Uniformity! Clarity!

Carbon copies!

Followed by computers and photocopiers.

6. Scissors. And not pictured: Glue

Like I said, not in historical order.



The things we could make to teach!

7. Calculators.

Now these really did cause a furor.

An uproar.

Completely responsible for the atrophied working brain, the demise of intelligence and the loss of math forever as times-tables disappeared.

8. Tape recorders.

Fast forward and going backwards.

Record and play back.

Playing texts again and again and again meant our learners no longer had any need to pay attention.

By the time these were followed by the Walkman and CD player, all was lost.

What else changed teaching?

'cause you know, like, obviously, the list above isn't comprehensive...

Do you know the pedagogical principles behind the use of each item as applied to education?

I most certainly hope you do.

Were you worried about your methodology, whenever you pressed that green button on a photocopier?

Well, really.

Tsk. Tsk.

You know, if you like me are of a certain age and you just (shock!) used these things as mere tools to get from A-2-B in whatever it was you were teaching, then by golly, you couldn't possibly have been effective.

Winging it, you were.

What is changing the way we teach today and tomorrow?

Are we really forgetting to pay attention to how our students learn?

Are we stumbling blindly, right alongside life, getting lost in bells and whistles?



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4 Responses to “8 radical technological changes which (shock!) rocked education”

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    January 03, 2010

    Anne Pires has already suggested OHPs (derived from flickering shadows on cave walls) and VCRs (derived from marketeering storytellers) to top off the list, which would make it a magic 10. I'm partial to dozens, myself, so... How about
    11. dolls, puppets and other representations of the human or animal form, to open the mind and redirect focus from the learner and teacher...
    12. music, song, clapping, stomping etc., to open up and redirect communication from the word to the meaning behind the words...

  • Nick Jaworski says:
    January 03, 2010

    Well, the post made me stop and think, but I still agree with those that say we need to examine the methodology related to some tech in the class.

    1) As Gavin constantly points out and as I've been struggling with as well lately, many teachers simply don't believe in using tech in the classroom or are actually scared of it. This is one reason we, unfortunately, must justify its use.

    2) There is definitely an explosion of tech related gadgets in the class. I get the feeling a lot of these are being used simply because they are new and shiny rather than because they are any better than what was being done previously.

    You're right to point out the issue may be a bit silly and overrated, but I think it's still necessary.

    January 03, 2010

    Hey Nick...

    I do agree, in part, and have commented on other posts regarding this subject and I do support the search for teaching effectively over merely playing with bells and whistles - but seriously, and sincerely, I also smell a fear of change, a scent stronger than a sincere call for research into this area.

    Also, god, a little common sense is truly needed:

    If I use a software program (audacity) coupled with a netbook and desktop microphone am I seriously doing anything more than I did with a tape recorder? OH, why yes, I am: I can put my voice alongside my students - I can create a mp3 and email it over to my student rather than doing a cassette. I can slow down an authentic text (I could do that with some fancier tape recorders tho' back then).

    And oh, so what if my smartphone looks "fancy" the point of using it to play a track - like, what, CD players didn't look "cool" in their time.

    Anyway, ya get the point - just a call for common sense.

  • Nick Jaworski says:
    January 04, 2010

    Ya, I'm with you on that. I long ago stopped taking common sense for granted though :) :)


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