The history of instructional design and technology is fascinating. If there is a gadget, there has probably been an effort to weave it into education; unfortunately, many of these efforts have been short lived. The primary reason that technology has not had a stronger foothold in education as been “teachers resistance to change.”
As Reiser and Dempsey note in their book, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, a number of technologies were introduced to the classroom. However, most of the technologies were discontinued after a short time in part due to teachers resistance to change. All the technologies were touted to revolutionize the classroom… yet, they didn’t. It is interesting to note that the military, business, and government have used many of these technologies with great success. What are these technologies?
Early in the 1900s, films were introduced into the classroom; they were suppose to replace books as a teaching tool. As we can see, that really did not occur. Sure, I remember seeing a film or two in school, but it was only on rare occasions. As Reiser and Dempsey point out films did not make it because teachers were not very skilled at running the equipment, films lacked quality, and it was also too expensive. On the other hand, the US Army Air Corps was very prolific in producing and using films for instruction. The military continues to produce and use high quality films in support of training. Here is a catalog of Department of Defense videos.
Instructional radio seemed to have more promise than instructional films. According to Reiser and Dempsey, instructional radio ran for twenty years. Lack of reception, poor equipment, and scheduling time are all cited as issues that impeded the impact of radio in education. More on the topic can be read here.
The next big push on education was instructional television. It started in the 1950s and lasted as far as I know only into the early 1970s. At least, I only remember watching instructional television while in school during the late 60s and early 70s. Instructional television did not make it primarily because of the cost to install TV in the schools, lack of quality programming, and lack of instruction on how to effectively weave it into the curriculum.
As personal computers became available in the early 1980s, many thought it would significantly change education. However with lack of guidance, poor programs that only drilled and killed, or programs that functioned as expensive typewriters, computers in the classroom also had little impact.
Internet and Mobile Devices
Right now we are in the age of the Internet, and things seem to be different. Whereas with previous technologies, schools and teachers had to make an investment in using the technologies, now learners are going out on their own and using the Internet to learn. When you don’t know something, you go to Google and conduct a search. Within a couple minutes, you often have your answer. Want to see how something is done, you go to YouTube and watch a video. With the use of social media, more and more educators are trying to integrate these tools in the classroom. However, they are behind the power curve; corporate business, government, and the military have taken the lead in using social media, the Internet, and mobile devices to affect learning. Many schools block or strictly control access to the Internet and mobile devices. Hopefully, these technologies will not be added to the long list of failed technologies in the classrooms. More can be done to use technology in the classroom but “teachers resistance to change” must be addressed.
What are your thoughts?