History of Educational Technology


No written evidence can tell precisely who coined the phrase educational technology. Different educationists, scientists, and philosophers have forwarded different definitions of Educational Technology at different times. Educational technology is a multifaceted and integrated process involving people, procedures, ideas, devices, and organization, where technology from various fields of science is borrowed as per the need and requirement of education for implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those problems involved in all aspects of human learning.

History of Educational Technology 1

Educational technology, broadly speaking, has passed through five stages.

The first stage of educational technology is coupled with aids like charts, maps, symbols, models, specimens, and concrete materials. The term educational technology was used as a synonym for audio-visual aids.

The second stage of educational technology is associated with the ‘electronic revolution’ with the introduction and establishment of sophisticated hardware and software. Various audio-visual aids like projectors, magic lanterns, tape-recorder, radio, and television brought a revolutionary change in the educational scenario. Accordingly, the educational technology concept was taken in terms of these sophisticated instruments and equipment for effective instructional materials.

The third stage of educational technology is linked with the development of mass media, which led to the ‘communication revolution’ for instructional purposes. Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI), used for education since the 1950s, also became popular.

The fourth stage of educational technology is discernible by the individualized instruction process. The invention of programmed learning and programmed instruction provided a new dimension to educational technology. A system of self-learning based on self-instructional materials and teaching machines emerged.

The latest concept of educational technology is influenced by the system engineering or system approach, which focuses on language laboratories, teaching machines, programmed instruction, multimedia technologies, and computer use in education. According to it, educational technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out, and evaluating the total teaching and learning process in terms of specific objectives based on research.

Educational technology during the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age

Despite the uncertainty of the origin of the term, educational technology can be traced back to the time of the three-age system periodization of human prehistory, namely the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.

During the Stone Age, igniting fire by rubbing stones, manufacturing various handmade weapons and utensils from rocks, and clothing practices were simple technological developments of utmost importance. A fraction of Stone Age people developed ocean-worthy outrigger canoe ship technology to migrate across the ocean from one place to another. They set their first informal knowledge of the ocean currents, weather conditions, sailing practices, astronavigation, and star maps. During the later Stone Age (Neolithic period), for agricultural practice, polished stone tools were made from various hard rocks, primarily by digging underground tunnels. These were considered the first steps in mining technology. The polished axes were so effective that people used them to clear forests and establish crop farming, even after the appearance of bronze and iron.

Although Stone Age cultures left no written records, archaeological evidence proved their shift from nomadic life to agricultural settlement. Ancient tools are conserved in different museums, cave paintings like Altamira Cave in Spain, and other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf, Mother Goddess from Laussel, France, etc., pieces of evidence in favor of their cultures.

The Neolithic Revolution of the Stone Age resulted in the appearance of the Bronze Age with the development of agriculture, animal domestication, and the adoption of permanent settlements. For these practices, Bronze Age people further developed metal smelting, with copper and later bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, being the materials of their choice.

The Iron Age people replaced bronze and developed iron smelting technology to lower the cost of living since iron utensils were stronger and cheaper than bronze equivalents. In many Eurasian cultures, the Iron Age was the last period before writing scripts were developed.

Educational technology during the period of Ancient civilizations

According to Paul Saettler, 2004 Educational technology can be traced back to when tribal priests systematized bodies of knowledge and ancient cultures invented pictographs or sign writing to record and transmit information. In every stage of human civilization, one can find an instructional technique or set of procedures to implement a particular culture supported by some investigations and evidence. The more advanced the culture, the more complex the instruction technology designed to reflect specific individual and social behavior intended to run an educated society. Over centuries, each significant shift in educational values, goals, or objectives led to diverse instruction technologies.