Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech provides an excellent overview of the history of educational technology, and I enjoyed the first eight chapters spanning the years 1994-2001. Even though the Wikipedia article states that “the use of media for instructional purposes is generally traced back to the first decade of the 20th century” (“Educational Technology”, 2020), I thought Weller starting with the year 1994 was a good choice, since he indicates that “in 1994…the web was just about to garner mainstream attention (p. 6). An interesting note is that the first online high school, CompuHigh, was also established in 1994 (“CompuHigh”, 2019).
While the first eight chapters covered some technologies I had never heard of (e.g. Bulletin Board Systems), I was pleased to see there were some I did know and even used (e.g. Netscape, Microsoft Encarta). Although I had been using the Internet for personal interests for a while, I would say that the first time I used it for educational purposes was when I started university in 1999 to do research for assignments. I seem to have a memory that I had a professor who opposed Internet sources at that time. I don’t think many of us adhered to her instructions, and I wonder how long it was before she got on board.
What struck me the most in these first eight chapters was that despite the stumbling blocks encountered with some of these early technologies, they weren’t abandoned. For example, I couldn’t believe when Weller indicated that “asynchronous online group became a possibility but at the same time, it was also a very frustrating experience for students. A collaborative activity that could usually be completed in an afternoon in a face-to-face setting would probably occupy students for three weeks or so when completing it online and asynchronously” (p. 22). Nowadays we live in such a fast-paced technological world, I wonder if we would be willing to continue pursuing a technology with such downfalls, as well as wonder where we would be had those early technologies been abandoned.
CompuHigh. (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompuHigh
Educational Technology. (2020). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_technology
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.