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Four Educational Technology Advances

By Sean Connick | Published: 3rd October 2023

We are glad people are looking at some educational EdTech, but now let's look at four educational technology advances that changed the classroom forever!

The Early Computers of the 1980s

The phrase 'My computer has more power than the moon landings' definitely doesn't apply to the IBM 5150, Amstrad CPC, and BBC Micro of the early '80s.

Let's look at these machines in a bit more detail.

The IBM 5150 Introduced to the market in 1981, is an iconic and foundational landmark in the realm of personal computing. With its Intel 8088 processor clocked at 4.77 MHz, expandable memory up to 640 KB, and a versatile open architecture featuring five 8-bit ISA slots and one 16-bit slot, it set a new standard for personal computers. The IBM 5150's compatibility with the IBM PC-DOS operating system and a wide range of hardware and software from third-party developers made it a versatile and influential platform. Its compact desktop form factor and user-friendly design also contributed to its widespread adoption, laying the groundwork for the IBM-compatible PC market and the subsequent dominance of MS-DOS and Windows operating systems in the world of computing. Source.

BBC Microcomputer System, commonly known as the BBC Micro, is a classic home computer that was introduced in December 1981 by Acorn Computers in partnership with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It was designed primarily for educational purposes in the United Kingdom and became a popular tool in schools. The BBC Micro featured a MOS Technology 6502 processor, a range of memory configurations, and various ports for connecting peripherals. It played a significant role in computer education during the 1980s and helped introduce a generation of students to programming and computer technology. Source.

Amstrad CPC (Color Personal Computer) is a series of home computers that were manufactured by Amstrad, a British electronics company, during the 1980s. The Amstrad CPC series was introduced in 1984 and was designed to compete with other popular home computers of the time, such as the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum. The CPC computers were known for their distinctive design, featuring an integrated keyboard and a built-in cassette tape deck for data storage. They were available in various models, including the CPC 464, CPC 664, and CPC 6128, with differences in memory and features. These computers were popular for gaming, productivity, and educational purposes, and they played a significant role in the home computing scene during the 1980s. Source.

These machines were the first experience of computing for many people, even though they were relatively expensive for the time. However, they gained popularity and paved the way for the next generations of educational computing.

First Online Educational Course

The University of Toronto made history in 1984 by pioneering the first-ever completely online course. This groundbreaking initiative marked a significant leap forward in the realm of distance education and laid the foundation for the digital learning landscape we know today. By harnessing emerging computer and network technologies, the University of Toronto demonstrated the potential to deliver education beyond the confines of physical classrooms. This innovative approach to online learning opened up new possibilities for students worldwide, ultimately reshaping the future of education and expanding access to knowledge and academic resources like never before.

Even though the course was launched in the very early days of the internet and computer ownership, it provided the power of digital learning, becoming a foundational pillar of our industry. Source.

First Online Encyclopedia

The Online Britannica Encyclopedia of 1994 was a pioneering digital resource that represented a significant shift in the way people accessed and consumed information. Unlike its print counterpart, this early online version provided users with the convenience of searching for a vast array of knowledge directly from their computers. It marked an important step towards the digitization of reference materials, foreshadowing the broader transition of encyclopedias and other educational resources to digital formats in the years to come. Although it may seem rudimentary by today's standards, the 1994 online Britannica Encyclopedia played a pivotal role in setting the stage for the digital information age and the transformation of educational resources into digital, accessible formats. Source.

The creation of the first online encyclopedia was a significant step in making knowledge more accessible. For the first time, students could look up a subject and be brought to the relevant information page.

The Internet

The modern internet, as we know it today, traces its roots back to 1983 with the establishment of the TCP/IP protocol suite, a standardized method for data exchange and communication. This pivotal moment, attributed to the visionary work of computer scientists like Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, marked the beginning of a global network that would reshape education profoundly. Additionally, the contributions of Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, played a significant role in the Internet's evolution. The Internet, co-created by Cerf and Kahn, and the World Wide Web, envisioned by Berners-Lee, have become indispensable tools in education, connecting learners and educators worldwide. Berners-Lee's invention, coupled with the advent of web browsers, made information accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This digital revolution paved the way for online learning platforms, open educational resources, and massive open online courses (MOOCs), democratizing education and expanding access to knowledge for people across the globe. Today, the internet continues to evolve, bringing new opportunities and challenges to the field of education, as online classrooms, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence shape the future of learning. Source.

It is beyond all measures how much the internet has changed the world as we know it. It is almost impossible to imagine today and the future without the internet.

We hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the essential educational technologies and some of the key moments in history and how they have shaped the industry as we know it!

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