How Tech Has Evolved in K-12 Education

From TI-84s and dial-up to Chromebooks and tablets, explore how tech has evolved in K-12 education. Is tech a tool or a challenge in today's classrooms?

My era, the mid to late ’90s

The TI-84 was the peak of portable tech back when I was in High School, and you’d better not get caught with pre-programmed formulas or games on it, did I mention you have to buy your own? If your family could afford it you probably had a(as in one) computer with a separate line for dial-up internet. Many schools had computer labs, and we were lucky enough to have a handful of laptops we could bring home to work on, the school even had a handful of POTS lines so you had local dial-up through your school email if you weren’t able to afford internet. There were to cheap cell phones and no smartphones at all, so apart from class and at home if you were lucky exposure was limited, you better have your card catalog skill handy!

The .COM Bubble

Fast forward a decade and computers and the internet were more ubiquitous and researching on the internet was now more mainstream. Smartphones were still in their early phases, think Blackberry and the first versions of the iPhone. Bandwidth caps were more common on broadband and Napster and the like were beginning to lose out to buying through services like iTunes or just ripping the copy of that CD you liked. I used to load up an MP3 player with 128MB of music to tune out and crash out too during deployments at sea. Fast forward again another decade and we now have Chromebooks, iPads, various other tablets, and multiple computer labs to work within schools. Most students now grow up instinctively knowing how to use devices that way I used to use a touch-tone telephone or the various versions of NES consoles. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in more than a few cases the students know more about the tech than the teacher(both good and bad).

Are we permanently jacked in?

Lately, I’ve heard that we need to use more technology in school(not very often) or more likely that we need to go back to paper and pencil. Working in IT in a school district I try to see both points. Just as any other tool it needs to be used appropriately and not abused, otherwise headaches abound for all(including you IT folks). As a parting thought before I head off to sleep I’ll offer this analogy of tech as a tool, is that screwdriver being used as a screwdriver, a pry bar, or a stirring stick? Something to think about when answering the question of “is tech good in education”.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.