If you went to any school lesson in any place and time you’d likely find a group of students and (hopefully) a more knowledgable teacher using the available technology to illustrate and emphasize learning points. In a class in the ancient world you’d likely find students sitting on the ground or standing, and using symbols, words, and equations written on dirt or on rocks with stick and stones aside from their brains and bodies. Papyrus and a feather quill would be a dramatic improvement, as later would be the fountain pen, then the ballpoint pen, along with more refined paper. For many thousands of years, the most you could hope for in terms of teaching technology was a better pen and paper. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution with powerful machinery, harnessing of vast amounts of energy, along with the exploitation of electricity that allowed for more modern teaching equipment to arise, which allowed for more comfortable display of learning materials, improved range and flexibility of audio and video media. The computer, mobile phone, and internet have all combined most of these things into a single device with speed and power that continuing to dramatically expand the powers of the human mind.
- Which of the following did you use in your education? Which did you like, which did you not like?
- Which device do you think has had the single biggest impact on learning?
- Which devices may have had the most potential, but wasn’t fully utilized?
- Which medium is best for which subject, e.g. a visual is better medium for working out math problems, what about language, science, history etc.?
- How will video games change how we learn? Will it be as big an impact as textbooks or film documentaries?
- How important is being in a social group for learning? How much does the subject or age of the student matter?