<![CDATA[Online Learning Tools - Blog]]>Tue, 26 Jan 2016 14:56:11 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[A brief and sketchy history of technology in the classroom]]>Mon, 03 Dec 2012 20:16:30 GMThttp://oertools.weebly.com/blog/a-brief-and-sketchy-history-of-technology-in-the-classroom Picture
Teachers and technology have always had a strained relationship. Teachers’ reactions to the introduction of new technologies ranges from fear to skepticism. Really this is completely understandable because the history of technology in the classroom suggests one very clear pattern: technology is going to replace the classroom teacher! Consider the following:

In the early 1890’s Thomas Edison invents the motion picture. As film becomes readily available, more popular and easier to produce and distribute, educational experts begin to speculate. “Kids love movies,” they think. “We can put projectors in every classroom. Kids will sit for hours and watch movies. We can put all educational content on the films. It will revolutionize education. It will replace the classroom teacher!”

Of course, film did not replace the classroom teacher. But teachers are a bit worried by it.

In the 1920’s radio, or the ability to broadcast audio messages over wireless signals, became commercially viable. Soon radio was all the rage. People loved to listen to the radio for everything from news to entertainment. Educational experts began to speculate. “Kids love radio,” they said. “We can put radios in every classroom. Kids will sit and listen to the radio for hours. And this is different than film because now we can broadcast live information and prerecorded information. It will revolutionize education. It will replace the classroom teacher.

Of course, radio did not replace the classroom teacher. But now two new pieces of technology have been advocated for classroom use. And that use has not included the teacher. Teachers worry even more.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s Educational Television (ETV) is making great strides. States, South Carolina being one of them, begin to make enormous investments in ETV. “This,” think educational experts, “is it.” ETV will revolutionize education. Kids love TV, and they will love ETV. And this is,” educational experts stress, “a completely new technology. Much different than film or radio. This will revolutionize classroom learning. This will replace classroom teachers!

Of course, ETV did not replace classroom teachers. But now, we have a pattern. New technologies are introduced to education, and they keep talking about replacing teachers. This is not making teachers comfortable at all. 

I could go on. And on. There was computer-based education (CBE) in the 1980’s and that too was going to revolutionize education. But it didn’t. Interactive video disk in the 1990’s would REALLY revolutionize education, and replace classroom teachers. Except it did not. But the history of the introduction of technology into classrooms has made teachers nervous.

To be fair to the educational experts, I may have exaggerated their desire to replace classroom teachers. And, to their credit (and mine too, I suppose since I am educational expert dealing in technology) they did realize that technology would not replace the teacher. Technology, they rightfully posited, could be used to make good teachers better teachers. And that is about right from my perspective.

So as we move towards MOOCs and OERs we have to put them into historical context and perspective. Classrooms have always relied on a learned other to help students. At one point that learned other was responsible for providing all the knowledge that the students would encounter in the class room. But today there are many, many options for presenting information in a classroom. Finding and using OERs to help you reach your students is an excellent thing to do. Studying in a MOOC can help you gain new skills. And recommending MOOCs for your students can help keep them motivated and engaged in learning.