The way technology was used in schools changed dramatically from 1900 to 1999. Before the 1900s, technology did not exist in schools. Instructors taught students with textbooks and chalkboards. Teachers and textbooks still play a vital role in the classroom, but with the technology boom of the 1900s, new devices have entered the classroom and revolutionized the way students learn.


Film was introduced in the classroom during what was called the Visual Instruction Movement. During the Visual Instruction Movement, film, slides and photographs were used in schools to educate students. The motion picture projector became one of the first technological devices used in schools. The very first instructional films were made in 1910. With the excitement over a new educational medium, Thomas Edison predicted in 1913 that books would become obsolete and the motion picture would become the primary medium of teaching. Of course, that prediction was incorrect, but it proves the excitement that technology brought to the classroom.


Through the 1920s and 1930s radio broadcasting and sound recording began to boom. Before this time, motion pictures were made without sound. When sound was added to motion pictures and radio broadcasting became a reality, the Audiovisual Instruction Movement began. In the early 1930s, those who raved about audiovisual technology claimed that radio would be as commonplace in the classroom as textbooks. In reality, radio had very little effect on instruction practices in the classroom.


The 1950s brought the television and interest in using television as a teaching device. In 1952, the Federal Communications Commission decided to set aside 242 educational channels. Before the 1960s, television was seen as an exciting new way to teach students. The Ford Foundation spent $170 million on instructional television and delivering education via television to schools. By the 1960s, instruction through television and public broadcasting fizzled because the shows were usually nothing more than a teacher giving a lecture. When the funding from the Ford Foundation ended television in schools became less popular. By the time computers became popular in the 1980s, funds were even further reduced from television in public schools.


The computer has had the most technological impact on schools of all the technological mediums. The computer was not used extensively in education until the 1980s, but interest in the computer in the classroom began during the 1950s with researchers at IBM who developed Computer Assisted Instruction programs. It took time for computer use to catch on in schools. By the 1980s, microcomputers had been introduced that could fit on desktops. In 1983, 40 percent of elementary schools and 75 percent of secondary schools in the United States used computers for educational purposes. After 1995, the Internet accelerated the Interest in using computers for educational purposes.