Timeline of Training Technology Part 2: 1970s - Present

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The technology in schools shifted drastically from the time I was in school to when my kids started attending. Many resources my teachers relied on my children look at and say “What’s that?” It’s the same way I say it when I visit their classrooms and see all the gadgets they use every day.


Take a look at how these 9 innovations have changed school tech in the last 45 years:


Film projector – When classrooms darkened in the middle of the day during the 1970s and 80s kids knew what was coming, a film strip. Typically it was either a single reel projector with a student assigned to feed the film through as the teacher lectured or a reel to reel that captivated the class with light and movement.

Overhead projector – The tech advancement that topped all others in 1980s education was overhead projector. By projecting transparencies onto a screen it allowed teachers to prepare notes and presentations before class; that way time spent together could be used for talking and not transcribing.

Whiteboard – The concept for whiteboards came to photographer and Korean war veteran, Martin Heit, when he realized how easily markings could be wiped off of film negatives.  He sold the idea to Dri-Mark who produced the product commercially. By 1990 dry erase boards eased chalkboards of classrooms after questions were raised about health and allergy concerns stemming from the use of chalk.

Media cart – With the advances in video technology, film projectors in school were replaced by media carts. Basically a metal shelf was outfitted with wheels and a power strip. This allowed school officials to tether a TV and VCR to the cart and roll it around the school making multimedia available to all of the teachers on demand.

Personal Computer – Computers began popping up in schools in the 1990s. A computer lab consisted of a few machines students could access from time to time. By 2005 most classrooms were equipped with a bank of computers just for the kids in that class. Now some schools assign machines to every student.

LCD Overhead projector – The original overhead projector on our list that was basically a light box and lenses grew up into an even more powerful education tool. Instead of simply displaying transparencies, LCD projectors can output information from the computer.

Smartboard – Imagine if all of the technology discussed already got together and had a baby. The resulting child would be a Smartboard. On first glance it looks like any other whiteboard with and LCD projector pointed at it but on closer examination, it’s so much more. This monument of modern classroom technology interacts with media and mediator. Through touch and motion sensors, teachers translate lectures into engaging and powerful presentations.

Tablet – Compressing the computing powers of a PC with the portability of a writing slate makes tablet computers ideal for the educational system.  Children get hands on interaction and adults appreciate rapid information sharing. By loading all the curriculums textbooks and handouts onto a tablet PC students save their aching backs as well as a lot of trees.

Smart phones – Until the prices on portable computing devices drop, teachers are finding benefits in allowing students to use their cell phones in class but not for texting or talking. Since so many modern kids are already equipped with smart phones, educators are taking advantage of the internet access and data processing features preloaded on most models.

There was a time not so long ago when educators wished that each kid in their classroom had access to their own personal computer. With the rise of smart phones and portable computing technology they already do. Now schools are starting to allow students to access these previously forbidden resources during class.


Soon I predict virtual reality simulators will be common in every classroom. What wonders do you think the future of training technology holds?


Be sure to go back in time and check out Timeline of Training Technology Part 1: 2700 BC – 1970 AD


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