Impact of Technology in Education - A study of the past, present and future

Term Paper, 2007

14 Pages, Grade: Masters




Terminology of technology in education

2008 and beyond?

Skill improvement, challenging, remediation




The advent of vast amounts of technology has certainly impacted the classroom from the youngest level to college and beyond. New technologies abound and there is more every day. Not only has the technology increased but also higher levels of efficiency have made technology more integrated and affordable. These open new doors and take teachers and students down new avenues of learning. The future of education is almost inconceivable, and the possibilities are boundless. Inventor Charles F. Kettering said this about imagination:

Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.”

This certainly applies to what may be accomplished in education with the use of technology. This paper focuses on the possible uses of technology in education to stimulate skill development at high levels and remediation and at the low levels as well as connecting students to education who might otherwise not have access. Several peer-reviewed articles, a podcast, textbook citations, and Internet searches are utilized to illustrate the possibilities accomplishing this formidable task.

Before delving into the impact that technology has had on education, there are several concepts requiring background.

Terminology of technology in education

Behaviorism refers to the concept that people learn best as a response to external stimulus. This concepts was most famously illustrated by Ivan Pavlov and his now famous dog, who learned a conditioned response by salivating when hearing a bell which preceded his feeding. B.F. Skinner took this concept to extremes and built vast amounts of learning theories around this.

One of his most famous theories is that of Operant conditioning. In this concept the learner is prompted by an antecedent for a particular behavior and then is rewarded or consequenced for displaying or not displaying the desired behavior. Behaviorism in its purest form dismisses the concept of any real thought processing within the learner and hold that all learning is the result of external stimulus.

Social Learning Theories is a term used to describe learners abilities to learn through social modeling. For example a student sees another student receive a consequence for chewing gum in class. In turn the observer then decides that they won’t chew in class. On the other hand if the observer sees a student chew gum without receiving a consequence then they may elect to chew gum in class as well.

Cognitive Learning Theories is a reference to the concept that learners make choices based on internal motivation. The learner processes new information and networks the information with existing networks. There is a constant, and continuous assimilation, often based on a conflict in prior knowledge called Cognitive Conflict. The learning of skills and knowledge is not based on external antecedents and behavior is not conditioned externally. These things are brought about intrinsically and knowledge and skill are learned based on prior information and a motivation to learn.

Constructivism is a learning process whereby the learner is posed a problem or question to which creates a conflict or lack of understanding. Students work in cooperative groups to brainstorm ideas and begin to construct a concept of a solution to the problem. In this scenario all student viewpoints have value and contribute in some way. Instruction is then adapted to respond to the students suppositions, and learning takes place and is assessed. The constructivist approach to learning falls under the general concept of cognitive learning. It addresses the need to have learners process information, fit the pieces into place, struggle with conflict and arrive at valued (motivated) answers.

Constructionism is a concept, which takes the constructivist approach a step farther. First introduced in the 1980s by MIT professor Seymour Papert (website), this concept adds that learners value constructing learning concepts as part of a larger dynamic. This concept is based on the learners desire to be a part of a “bigger picture,” and that what they are doing has significance. As with all cognitive concepts, motivation is internal, and is a very important driving force.

History of technology use in schools. For this concept, a brief timeline shall be paraphrased from a web forum regarding primarily the history of computers in schools from a web article called:

History, the History of Computers, and the History of Computers in Education:

1965 - Elementary and Secondary Education Act brings new money into schools for technology. Mainframes and minicomputers are put into place in some schools, but most are used for administration or for school counseling (databases for information a bout and for students).

1967 - High-level programming languages such as Fortran are being taught are in universities. School vocational training programs begin to include computer maintenance.

1968 - Some programs designed to bring money for technology into schools are canceled; host computers are not widely adopted in schools because they are seen as inappropriate for use with the teacher/manager model of learning (they don't fit into the single classroom, but instead are accessed remotely by sending batches of data).

1970 - Pascal created. mainframes and minicomputers in use in some schools, but very little use in the delivery of instruction.

1971 - Intel's first microprocessor developed; the first microcomputers (PCs) are developed. A few software companies begin to develop mainframe and minicomputer- based instructional programs.

1972 Watergate- Ok it doesn’t have anything to do with technology in education

1974 - Apple I computer is sold in kit form.

1975 - Some Apple 1 PCs are donated to schools; some schools have adopted mainframes and minicomputers and refuse to consider PCs.

1979 - 15 Million PCs estimated to be in use worldwide; PC-based spreadsheets developed, mainframes and minicomputers still in wide use.

1981 Drill and practice CAI gains acceptance in schools. The first educational drill and practice programs are developed for personal computers.

1983 - Apple II computer finds widespread acceptance in education because PCs better fit the teacher /manager model of instructional delivery (PCs can be used to "support" the ongoing teaching in the single classroom). Simple simulation programs are developed for personal computers.

1984 - 31 states use 13,000 PCs for career guidance, but there are still relatively few computers in classrooms; the Apple Macintosh computer is developed. Computer-based tutorials and learning games are developed by commercial software manufacturers.

1986 - 25 % of high schools use PCs for college and career guidance, K-8 schools buying mostly Apple II and Macintosh computers, high schools buying mostly DOS-based clones.

1988 - 60 % of all workers in the US use computers. Laptops are developed.

1990 - Multimedia PCs are developed; schools are using videodiscs; object-oriented multimedia authoring tools are in wide use; Simulations, educational databases and other types of CAI programs are being delivered on CD-ROM disks, many with animation and sound.

1992 - Schools are using Gopher for on-line information.

1994 - Digital video, virtual reality, and 3-D systems capture the attention of many, but fewer multimedia PCs than basic business PCs are sold; object-oriented authoring systems such as HyperCard, Hyperstudio, and Authorware grow in popularity in schools; most US classrooms now have at least one PC available for instructional delivery, but not all teachers have access to a computer for instructional preparation.

1995 - The Internet and the world wide web began to catch on as businesses, schools, and individuals create web pages; most CAI is delivered on CD-ROM disks and is growing in popularity.

1996 - The Internet is widely discussed as businesses begin to provide services and advertising using web pages. New graphics and multimedia tools are developed for the delivery of information and instruction using the Internet; many schools are rewiring for Internet access; a few schools install web servers and provide faculty with a way to create instructional web pages.

1997-2007 - Growth of the Internet expands faster than predicted. It soon becomes the world's largest database of information, graphics, and streaming video making it an invaluable resource for educators; but marketing-oriented web pages, computer viruses hidden within downloadable programs and/or graphics, and spam (widely disseminated email-based sales pitches) threaten it's usefulness. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo constantly develop new ways to find information. Personal websites become popular, as does internet-based publishing and discussion forums. Voice recognition slowly enters the computing mainstream. Some computers incorporate TV input. Educational software becomes more useful and interesting to students as graphics and video are incorporated. Larger computer storage capacity and the growing prevalence of CD-ROM and DVD drives in personal computers make it easier for educators to store large graphic and video and sound files for educational applications.

2008 and beyond?

(Paraphrased from The EasyDOS Tech Forum).

What has technology done so far to address the needs of the learner in school? This paper focuses on two key areas: 1) Using technology as a tool to challenge students, and develop skills for the global community. 2) As a means for students who might not otherwise be able to attend school at any level, to bridge geographic and physical barriers.

Skill improvement, challenging, remediation

Many people feel that the United States has lost its global competitive edge, and that the increased use of technology in education is at least part of the solution for this. “As China and India threaten the supremacy of the US economy, our best hope for keeping pace is putting ed tech funding to use to galvanize education” (Fletcher 2006). Certainly the use of technology in the classroom, can aid in raising the skill level of students. Mind tools, in particular allow students at all levels to take their focus off of the functions of a problem and place their thinking into a problem-solving, analytical mind-set. “ Dynamic modeling tools enable students to represent dynamic causal relationships among domain concepts.” (Jonassen, p 22).

Mind tools can also be used to design conceptual models such as graphic organizers. These require analytical thinking skills, which are high on Blooms taxonomy of thinking, and represent an important constructivist approach to understanding a problem.

Yet another use for technology in skill development is that of remediation. A quick Internet search on remediation software turns up over 1000 sites, each potentially, with numerous types of software. There are also online tutoring programs, which address a great many needs of the learner. In one particular peer-reviewed study on implementing K-12 tutoring systems, ITTS (Intelligent Tutoring Systems) each phase in the process is discussed: Analysis, design, development, and implementation. “ Schools and Universities are in a race to improve learning for all students and improve test scores.” (Wijekumar, 2007).

The report goes on to state that many tools are being marketed, such as computer assisted learning, games, practice tests, and communication applications. While this study did find that the web-based tutoring was useful in instruction and remediation they also found that I had limits. “ While the potential for using technologies in K-12 and other learning environments continues to grow, the limits to what can be achieved are very real.” (Wijekumar, 2007). From another peer reviewed article out of North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, “Technology can actually assist with some of these expectations (referring to earlier statement that teachers will be held responsible for their students passing high stakes tests) and make teachers-and their students-more successful (Valdez 2005)

Teachers cannot do this alone. They need to collaborate as well. This concept ties in well with technology as they can use technology such as Elluminate and other forms of electronic video conferencing, podcasts (like Tech Teachers Podcast thru Itunes), webinars, and email to collaborate with colleagues. One example of the need for this comes from the peer-reviewed article, Teaching Social Studies with Technology: New Research on Collaborative Approaches. “ Fundamental to MITTENS (an educators award for use of technology in Michigan schools) success as a program were its provisions for training in emerging technologies for educators and its facilitation of collaboration between people in different fields.” (Taylor 2006)

These articles simply scratch the surface of the possibilities for use as a means to raise the level of skills and as remediation tools in the classroom.

Using Technology for Distance Learning

The technology in education is such, now, that quality learning can be accomplished from great geographical distances. Everything from home-schooled toddlers to college graduate students are using the technological software and hardware to access classrooms that they would not otherwise be able to. Colleges of all sorts are using this technology to increase enrollment and K-12 schools can utilize this to reach students who would not otherwise have access to adequate educational resources. The implications of this are far-reaching in financial savings as well as several other areas. The savings in transportation alone can be staggering to a school district. A prime example of this is in the Denali Borough school district located in Alaska. This district encompasses the Denali state park, which covers roughly the area of the state of Maryland. Macbooks, Imacs, and PowerBooks are issued to the students so that they may still receive their education through the Internet on the district programs. “The one-to-one program really addresses our ability to help our kids get information that they might not have normally been exposed to.” According to Pete Vraspir, director of technology. (McHale 2007)


Looking back at the history of technology in the classroom it seems that the future of technology in education is an ever-changing landscape. No doubt the software and databases in use today will be modified or obsolete in a matter of years. Technology can allow teachers to do their jobs better by giving students a means to further their skills and exceed learning beyond what was once thought possible. There was a time in education when simply understanding the function of computer software and language (such as Fortran) and hardware would have been the endpoint of the knowledge of technology, but new ideas springboard from current ones and it is no longer necessary to understand how a chalkboard works in order to do the math problem. Simply learning the technique allows the student to take the knowledge farther. Additionally, the slower learner now has access to remediation that they did not before and the process does not dictate the pace of an Instructionists (I talk, you listen, we test) classroom. This allows student to learn at their own pace and optimize their abilities, whether they be high or low. Technology has allowed us to move away from a Behaviorist approach to learning and teach kids or rather, allow them to teach themselves through the ability to put the pieces together themselves and the motivation to do so. This constructivist approach seems to have a lasting effect on learners because the students process information cognitively, and what a powerful learning tool that is.

Technology has also made our learning world smaller so that everyone can have access to the education of the global classroom. It is inclusive at all levels of education. This has had the great effect of enabling a post graduate student to achieve their masters degree in their “spare” time, as well as reaching students who have physical or geographical hindrances.

So where will it go from here? As the great inventor said:

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.”

Some possible directions are software that allows mind tools to be utilized by students more freely and easily, freeing the teacher to be a facilitator rather than an instructor (dictator?). There is no doubt that this will enhance learning through both the poly-chotymus levels of instruction but through the depth of true understanding. The hardware that will come about will enhance the power of the learning logarithmically by its power, clarity, and possibilities. The only limitations will be our imagination.

Oddly, the greatest hurdle seems to have nothing to do with technology, that is the perception of the general public. Often education and technology is seen in the same way as the way that the person viewing learned; that is the behavioral model of Instruction. This limitation seems to encumber school districts with the, “It-was-good-enough-for-me-it’s-good-enough-for-my-kids,” mentality. There are many taxpayers that do not see the value in changing this approach; particularly when the standardized (shallow-rote rehearsal) test scores don’t fly off the charts compared with our Asian, and European counter parts. It is a conservative mentality that does not see value in upgrading classrooms to enhance accessibility to Internetted computers and other sources of educational technology.

As educators we must use OUR imagination to demonstrate the educational value of constructing learning through technology before it is actually available in the classroom. A daunting task indeed, but one worth it’s weight in hard-drives!


Peer Reviewed articles

Burke, Barry N., Pioneers—The “Engineering by Design[TM]” Network, Technology Teacher v66 n2 p25-30, Oct 2006

Fletcher, Geoffrey H., Using Technology to Maintain Competitiveness: How to get our Groove Back, T.H.E Journal v33 n12 p18-21, Jul2006

Taylor, Julie Anne; Duran, Mesut, Teaching Social Studies with Technology: New Research on Collaborative Approaches, History Teacher v40 n1 p9-25, Nov 2006

Valdez, Gilbert, Ph.D., Critical Issue: Technology: a Catalyst for Teaching and Learning in the Classroom, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, Learning Points Associates, from website:

Wijekumar, K.K., Implementing Web-Based Intelligent Tutoring Systems in K-12 Setting: A Case Study on Approach and Challenges Journal of Educational Technology Systems, v35 n2 p193-208 2006-2007


McHale, Tom, One-to-One in Alaska, Technology and Learning, v27 no8 24-26, Mar 2007


Modeling with Technology. Jonassen, David, 3rd Ed, Merrill Prentice Hall 2005

Learning Theories, An educational Perspective, Schunk, Dale H., 4th Edition, Merril Prentice Hall, 2004

Internet sources

Seymore Papert, retrieved September 21, 2007 from:

The EasyDOS Tech Forum, Retrieved September 21, 2207 from:

Podcast Sources: Itunes

WoW - Elluminate Your Life Brad Niessen 7/12/07

Cool Cat Teacher Vicki Davis 3/30/07

Excerpt out of 14 pages


Impact of Technology in Education - A study of the past, present and future
Educational Technology
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ISBN (eBook)
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Impact, Technology, Education, Educational, Technology
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BS John Stegmaier (Author), 2007, Impact of Technology in Education - A study of the past, present and future, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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