10 ed-tech tools of the 70s, 80s, and 90s

We don’t know about you, but sometimes our mind is blown here at eSchool News and eCampus News hearing about the ed-tech  kids get to learn with these days: mobile gaming apps, clickers, smart boards?  Many of the editors still remember how wonderful it was being called to the front of the class to write on the blackboard with colored chalk!

As a fun Friday list, the editors of eSchool News have compiled a list of the education technologies we and our teachers used back in the day…you know, before the internet even existed.

Can you think of an ed-tech tool not on the list? What was your favorite classroom tool when you were in school?

(Next page: Ed-tech of the 70s, 80s, and 90s)

1. Overhead projectors (early 1960s’): When a teacher used to roll out the massive overhead projector it was almost like watching a movie in class! It was always a special day when the lights went down and then something magical would happen: the teacher would use transparencies. You mean you can just wipe off the marker?! These were crazy times.

2. Cassette recorders (early ‘70s-late ‘90s): Now there are free apps that can record just about anything. But when we had an oral exam, or really needed to prove our foreign language competency, out came the cassette recorders. Just remember-if you mess up the tape, you can always use a pencil to role the film back in place!

3. Floppy disks (Mid ‘70s-early 2000s): Talk about ruggedized! The first time we used floppies for computer work you could practically bend them in half without any damage-the case was even paper-based. Then came the virtually indestructible hard-shelled disks. Nowadays there are USBs. Okay. Those might be cooler. You could never attach your floppy to a key chain.

4. Oregon Trail (V.1- ’74): Nicole needs to stop whining and help pull the oxen across the river. We know this game was supposed to teach problem-solving skills and real-world reasoning, but what wagon can’t carry more than 100 pounds of bear meat? Totally not your fault that your entire party died from exhaustion. Right? Right?!

5. Lemonade Stand (V.1- ’79): Why are your sales declining even though you added more lemonade signs then last week? Wait, how do you multiply 20 cents by 62? Lemonade Stand was one of the first educational math games created  for elementary students. To this day we can’t walk by a child’s lemonade stand without trying to reason how weather and price points will affect their daily profits…probably not normal.

6. Dry-erase boards (Made in the mid-‘70s and popularized in classrooms in the ‘90s): Chalk allergies were the peanut allergies of today. Dry-erase boards were all the rage in the ‘90s as teachers realized that the days of chalk-handprint-butt were coming to a close. Too bad Kevin the class clown would switch the dry-erase markers with permanent markers—always a good prank.

7. Reader Rabbit (V.1- ’86): We basically learned how to spell in front of a computer. There wasn’t a day in early elementary school when we weren’t trying to win spelling races against a seemingly invincible turtle. tur·tle /ˈtərtl/

8. TI-80 graphing calculator (’95): 980 kHz proprietary CPU; 7 KB RAM; 64 x 68 pixels; no link abilities, and not designed for programming. Guys in our high school math class used to arm curl these gray bricks of advanced ‘mobile computing,’ and our parents had to take out a second mortgage to pay for one.

9. Tamagotchi (’96), Giga Pet (’97), and Nano Pet (’97): Remember the ‘This egg is your baby’ project? Many teachers in the late ‘90s were hip to our technology and said we could use our fake digital pets and aliens instead of eggs. Gameplay included feedings, clean ups, and constant attention. We can’t remember why we thought this was fun.

10. Alta Vista (’98) and Ask Jeeves (’99):  High school was when we started going to the library to learn something called “media skills,” which was an entirely new concept, considering the internet was still at dial-up and consisted mainly of  chat rooms your parents didn’t know about. Technically we were only supposed to use Alta Vista, but sometimes we’d break the rules and Ask our buddy, Jeeves.

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