Prior to Louis Braille’s creation of the written Braille system, people with visual impairments were expected to learn through audio formatting. But the learner experience is not universal, and the Braille system allows students to take control of their own experience.
Headphones revolutionized the classroom experience, adding a sense of entertainment and individualized content into the school day. Blocking out distractions, headphones have given learners more opportunity to focus and learn at their own pace.
Overhead projectors provided teachers an engaging and organized outlet to display notes and classroom materials. By creating real-time interaction, overhead projectors helped educators keep their learners focused in new ways.
Using Optical Mark Recognition (OMR), Scantron products can scan thousands of sheets per hour. This inexpensive technology decreased the amount of time instructors spent grading, and opened the door to new innovations focused on efficiency.
First portable computer
Laptops and other portable computer devices kickstarted the realm of on-the-go learning that we value so much today. Portable computers increased project-based lessons while introducing computer and digital literacy in the classroom and new organizational resources for both instructors and students.
Commercial graphic calculator
Within mathematics, handheld graphing calculators have helped students understand more of why – rather than how – they are utilizing various mathematical formulas. This new way of teaching and applying EdTech into lessons allowed students to grasp mathematical concepts in deeper ways.
With the rise of the internet and World Wide Web, Hypertext Markup Language revolutionized the way websites and website navigation operates. This system is the basis for how a website is formatted, from images, links, tables, and so on, and made working through the web for educational purposes that much easier.
Interactive whiteboards made technology the center of the classroom, displacing traditional blackboards and projectors. Educators leveraged interactive whiteboards to engage their class in one-to-many and peer-to-peer activities.
Wikis allowed learners take more agency over their own learning, both collaborating on wikis as contributors, and using them for information gathering. This digital "hands on" approach to information created an environment where learners could pursue interests inside and outside the classroom, at their own pace.
While the first Learning Management System (LMS) was invented in the 1920s, many modern LMS’s have moved to the cloud. With all the content and information that you need in one location, an LMS can be accessed anywhere while fostering a personalized, easy-to-use learning environment for students and teachers.
Open Education Resources
Open Educational Resources (OERs) provide students free, unlimited access to an array of academic tools, resources and materials. Breaking down unequal resource access across institutions, these tools help improve overall student success and engagement rates.
The ability to stream video onto any internet connected device opened the doors for both synchronous and asynchronous learning to take place in new ways. It also furthered learner agency by putting instructional content at the finger tips of anyone with a mobile device.
eReaders and iPhones
Early personal devices gave way to personalized instruction and the idea that each learner and instructor can work at their own pace, on their own device. It also widened the digital divide, surfacing inequities that still exist today.
“There’s an app for that” era
App stores opened the door to rapid innovation in the EdTech space, with the "There's An App For That" era, taking off in the early 2010's. Issues of access and equity persisted during this time as apps as diverse as the learners themselves hit the virtual app store shelves.
The next wave of personal devices created new avenues for individualizing instruction and communication with learners, educators and administrators who had access to these devices. While disparities continued, the possibilities of providing experiences based on a unique user's digital behavior came to light as more complex devices became common place.
Massive Online Open Courses
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) increased access to education worldwide. These free, online courses turned higher education on it's ear, removing several barriers to elite education inculding cost and location.
Innovation focused on creating more accessible digital content makes learning more accessible for all. Content conversion and web formatting solutions enable more people to consume content in the way that works for them - eBraille, audio, tagged PDF, etcetera.
COVID-19 pandemic sparks unprecedented adoption of digital learning tools
During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning forced many teachers and students to engage with a plethora of digital learning tools they’ve never used before. During this time, many learners discovered they can learn better at their own pace, in an alternative environment, and more. Meanwhile, EdTech adapted to meet their mental, social and emotional needs during this unprecedented time, forever changing the way classroom technology is used.