100 Years of Technology

Recently my brother-in-law and his co-worker put together a display at the University of Regina called 100 Years of Technology. My daughter and I drove in for the afternoon to check it out. It was very interesting to see how far technology has come. He created a video to showcase everything that was on display.

He also had some books on display. I found a book called Coping with Computers in the Elementary and Middle Schools (Riedesel, C. and Clements, D., 1985). I started reading the  book and it put a smile on my face. Chapter 20, What’s in the Future? was particularly interesting. I always like to read what people thought the technological world would be like down the road.

In this chapter Reidesel and Clements (1985, pgs. 286-289) suggest five possible scenarios of how the future of education and computers may look.

Scenario 1: Computers were a big hit but then people stopped using them and they sat gathering dust. One or two teachers use them but the programs have not been updated.

Scenario 2: Schools benefited from the use of computer technology. Some educators insist that if computers are used innovatively it will make a huge difference in teaching and learning. Computers have not made a large impact in most schools.

Scenario 3: “Schools are controlled mainly by curriculum writers, educational psychologists,  programmers and administrators, in that order” (p. 287). There have been advances in cognitive psychology  and computer science that have allowed the creation of ‘intelligent systems’ (p.287) that can “test, prescribe, teach, and retest students” (p.287) and keeps track of all their studies.

Designers are working to create systems where students are tutored by a computerized person. Students will learn more at home than at school and the school is there to provide the social and physical aspects of a student’s life.  Teachers influence has lessened because educational computing has grown. Students learned about computers from all aspects of their lives and outside institutions step in to pick up where the school is falling behind.

Scenario 4: Students will learn almost everything at home. Cables connect every home and institution together, which have made schools unnecessary. There are huge communication networks and a shrinking supply of energy which allows/forces people to work and learn at home. Contact between children and teachers happens via telecommunication. Physical needs are met through children playing with other children in their neighbourhood.  More children are being taught by computer only or in a few schools with computerized teaching.

Scenario 5: The school has become the centre for learning and communicating for the entire neighbourhood. Computer enhanced facilities  are used by all people. Classes still exist but attendance is not mandatory. Children are allowed to explore and learn  through a variety of experiences that may or may not be technological. “Computers are used to drill, instruct, solve problems, simulate, and stimulate. Each student has a work station where he or she can put in and receive information, solve problems and ‘play’ (p. 287). Virtually no children fail as every child can find something they excel at.

I loved reading this…we all have ideas of what the future will hold. I remember thinking that in the year 2011 we would have flying cars…

Which scenario do I think is the closest to today? I could say scenario 2 has some relevance today. I would say there are some schools that computers have not made a huge difference. For the most part I think that computers have made a huge impact in most schools today.

What do  you believe schools will look like in 25 years? Will there still be teachers? Will the school as a building still exist?

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5 Responses to 100 Years of Technology

  1. Chelsi says:

    What an interesting post! It was really neat to see the advances in technology all together in one place. Thanks for including the video!
    I think that Scenario #2 is the closest to today. There still are some classes where technology is pretty much ignored, unfortunately. I bet that Scenario #4 frightened quite a few teachers back then!
    I often think about what the future will be like. With technology advancing as quickly as it is, it seems hard to imagine what else will be invented. However, every time something of mine breaks or is not working (for example, Telus’ network here is driving me insane!) I think I’ll one day be saying, “Remember back when smart phones were first invented and the networks would drop calls constantly? Yeah, thank goodness we have progressed past that point!” I say the same thing now when thinking about how long it would take to connect to my old dial-up internet. I can’t believe there were days when loading a page took 20 minutes, and anyone picking up the phone ruined your connection!
    I definitely hope that there will still be teachers in the future. Some may be online, and some may be in the classrooms. I imagine that technology will play a much greater role in the classroom, such as each student having a tablet or laptop and learning being more geared towards exploration rather than memorization. So basically, it will be the way Dave Cormier proposed! That is what I am hoping!

    • lmorhart says:

      Thanks for the comment…it is amazing to see how far we have come! I remember when we first got a computer…I was in grade 8! We didn’t care how long it took because we were so excited to have a computer. I was the second person in my class to have a computer and the first to have internet.

  2. Great scenarios — ranging from the sad (#1) to the terrifying (#3) to the utopian (#5). When I say utopian, I mean that in a good way, as something to strive towards, even if we don’t really ever get there. In fact though, much of what is described in scenario #5 seems to be influencing the North Central Shared Facility in my neighbourhood. So maybe such progress isn’t so far away after all. I wish them the best of luck in making it happen, and applaud them for having the courage to give it a try.

  3. Such an interesting post! I love old textbooks and seeing them through the perspective of the present – so fascinating! Scenario #2 unfortunately resonates the most with me – I am trying to incorporate technology but seem to be simply using it to do things we could possibly do with a pencil, paper and library. I am still spinning my wheels trying to make it more transformative and this class is certainly helping me to achieve that goal no matter how many times I screw up. 🙂 What I love about Grad studies is that is allows for and encourages Scenario #5 and as a student we all know that that is the most fulfilling and soul-satisfying type of learning environment.

  4. Great post! I would agree that scenario 2 most certainly has relevance today, but would add that this is a very recent shift. Even as recently as 5 or 6 years ago, the majority of teachers I knew were using computers for marks programs and putting together lesson plans resources. Student use was typically confined to some web and data base searches for academic papers and word processing. Today, our computer labs, the portable laptops, and the IPADS are always booked. Students are not only researching information, they are interpreting it and recreating and reinterpreting by blogging, creating, and publishing it a variety of digital ways. As for scenario 5, we may be a ways from that – at least for K-6 students as sadly the value of schools in the public’s eye has been relegated to childcare providers.

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