The stereoscope was introduced in the 1870s. First used as parlor entertainment, the hand-held viewing instrument created three-dimensional images of landscapes, plants and animals.
The abacus was used in schools in the nineteenth century. This early calculator was made of a wood frame with parallel wire rods, each with wooden disks that glided on the rods. Teachers would hold up the abacus to demonstrate and test computational skills. Usually there was only one abacus per classroom.
Radio was introduced to schools in Haaren High School, New York City, in 1923. Soon after, school districts in other major cities established radio instruction on subjects such as penmanship, accounting, arithmetic, and history.
Television was first introduced in the classroom in Los Angeles in 1939. Overcrowded classrooms fueled initial interest in the use of the television in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the television is the most widely used form of technology in the classroom.
Before the advent and introduction of these technologies, the level of content-area knowledge in a classroom was limited by the teachers education. Radio and television brought affordable outside expertise into the classroom. Students could have easy access to special educational programming and see the world beyond the classroom.
The computer is the fastest-growing form of technology in public schools today. In 1984, there was one computer for every 92 students; today there is a computer for every eight students in American public schools. The reach of the Internet could very well redefine education. Students can research remote databases and access sites devoted to specific educational topics. The amount of information available on-line rivals any major research library. In this new age, critical thinking and research skills are becoming increasingly important, as students must learn how to locate, identify, assess, synthesize, and apply information. Additionally, the Internet is enhancing school-to-home communication and offering new ways for teachers to develop professionally, through on-line courses and peer support groups.
Then & Now: