History of Educational Technology

Timeline created by rrose5522
In History
  • Period:
    -500 BCE
    -1 BCE

    Oral Technologists

    The oral technologists demonstrate the first instance of some sense of an instructional technology. This was a period of time prior to the widespread use of written communication to propagate knowledge. As a result, the use of rhetoric and disputation informed the instructional technologies of the time.
  • -450 BCE

    The Elder Sophists

    The Elder Sophists
    The use of rhetoric and disputation informed the instructional technologies of the Elder Sophists, who advanced an expository lecture and group discussion method sometimes referred to as “Sophistic dialogue” (Saettler, 1990, p. 25) to deliver mass instruction.
  • -400 BCE


    Socrates built on the Sophists in his development of the so-called “Socratic method of instruction” (Saettler, 1990, p. 26) that guided learning through the oral use of leading questions.
  • Period:
    -1 BCE

    Early Technologists in the Written Era

    As the world transitioned away from the oral communication that defined the Greeks’ approach to knowledge building and toward a greater dependence on the written word, Postman (1985) describes how "almost every scholar who has grappled with the question of what reading does to one’s habits of mind has concluded that the process encourages rationality; that the sequential, propositional character of the written word fosters what Walter Ong calls the ‘analytic management of knowledge’" (p. 51).
  • 1100

    Peter Abelard and the Scholastic Method

    Peter Abelard and the Scholastic Method
    Rather than relying on rhetoric and disputation like the oral technologists, the Scholastic method looked to the interpretation of Scripture, pushing student toward formulating conclusions about theological and philosophical propositions. This early technology of the typographic era could be seen as a harbinger of the thinking and learning that would later become possible.
  • 1440

    Johannes Gutenberg and the printing press

    Johannes Gutenberg and the printing press
    Around 1440, the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg allowed written texts to be mass produced and widely circulated and ushered the world into a new era where exposition as "a mode of thought, a method of learning, and a means of expression" (Postman, 1985, p. 63) was possible.
  • Period:

    The Era of Typography/Age of Exposition

    The "period of time during which the American mind submitted itself to the sovereignty of the printing press is the Age of Exposition...Almost all of the characteristics we associate with mature discourse were amplified by typography...a sophisticated ability to think conceptually, deductively and sequentially; a high valuation of reason and order; an abhorrence of contradiction; a large capacity for detachment and objectivity; and a tolerance for delayed response" (Postman, 1985, p. 63).
  • Johann Comenius

    Johann Comenius
    Johann Comenius proposed a system he referred to as “pansophia,” where a methodical procedure could be used to address all problems and challenges faced by humanity. Comenius advocated for several instructional principles, like making practical applications to life and ensuring that content has value for the learner.
  • Joseph Lancaster and the Lancaster Monitorial Method

    Joseph Lancaster and the Lancaster Monitorial Method
    Joseph Lancaster development an efficient approach to education that used head pupils, or monitors, that were taught directly by the teacher before they, in turn, drilled other students. This method included numerous innovative technologies in its quest to education large numbers of students. Lancaster schools “deserve to be called the forerunner of modern instructional technology because they introduced order and system into instructional methods in American schools” (Saettler, 1990, p. 36).
  • Johann Pestalozzi

    Johann Pestalozzi
    Johann Pestalozzi’s contribution to the field emerged from his development of a method for teaching that followed his understanding about the stages of human development. Instruction began with simpler elements and advanced gradually in a series of steps connected with the learner’s psychological development” (Saettler, 1990, p. 36).
  • The motion picture

    The motion picture
    In the early 1900s, the motion picture was introduced into use in schools for instructional purposes.
  • Period: to

    The Age of Radio and Television

    Changes in discourse and thinking was occurring as the age of television was reaching its prime in 1985. Postman (1985) describes this change by saying, "We face the rapid dissolution of the assumptions of an education organized around the slow-moving printed word, and the equally rapid emergence of a new education based on the speed-of-light electronic image" (p. 145).
  • Audiovisual instruction

    Audiovisual instruction
    By the 1920s, technological innovation included media that incorporated sound influenced classroom education and “became known as the audiovisual instruction movement” (Reiser, 2001a, p. 56).
  • Radio as an educational tool

    Radio as an educational tool
    In the 1930s, radio was hailed as a revolutionary medium that would change education.
  • Audiovisual growth during World War II

    Audiovisual growth during World War II
    During World War II, this use of audiovisual instruction played a pivotal role in both the military and in industry. This instructional technology helped facilitate the training of large quantities of people without sacrificing the effectiveness of the training. The origins of instructional design can also be traced back to these developments during the war, as educators began conducting research, and then using their research in the development of military training material
  • Educational technology after World War II

    Educational technology after World War II
    Following World War II, the use of audiovisual materials in schools saw a resurgence, as educators and technologists recognized the successes of these tools in the military and industry during the war. Research during this post-war period sought to compare the student learning outcomes of a lesson delivered in a traditional live instruction versus the same lesson delivered through a medium like film, radio, or television.
  • Instructional Television

    Instructional Television
    During the 1950s, a new movement in educational technology involved the use of instructional television. This new tool “was seen as a quick, efficient, inexpensive means of satisfying the nation's instructional needs” (Reiser, 2001a, p. 58). Unfortunately, like some of the movements in the Age of Radio and Television that came before it, this too was not adopted to a large extent.
  • Computers

    Like motion pictures, radio, and television before it, in the 1980s, enthusiasm for the instructional potential of computers ran high. Also like the tools that came before it, by the 1990s, its overall impact on education was minimal.
  • Period: to

    Silicon Valley Boom

    Since Postman’s (1985) writing occurred before ubiquitous computer technology had come to fruition, his book did not reflect on the implications for the shift that arguably took place from the Age of Show Business to this current era, which is often defined by social media like Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone, and TikTok.
  • The Internet in schools

    The Internet in schools
    By the mid-1990s, educational technologists touted the power and potential of the internet for teaching and learning. Reiser (2001a) notes that “as has been the case throughout the history of instructional media, an increased presence of technology in the schools does not necessarily mean an increased use of that technology for instructional purposes” (p. 60).
  • Introduction of "Web 2.0"

    Introduction of "Web 2.0"
    The development of "web 2.0" opened up the internet to the potential for user-generate content, which included things like blogs, YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr, (and websites like this one). This development brought about a new way for users to interact with the internet and would ultimately pave the way for social media and open source platforms and tools.
  • Current trends in Educational Technology

    Current trends in Educational Technology
    The Horizon Report is published annually by The New Media Consortium. This report summarizes the trends that are the horizon within the field of educational technology. In a recent report, the authors note the following developments:
    1. Collaborative Learning approaches
    2. Deeper Learning approaches
    3. Online learning, robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, wearable technology, and Makerspaces