New technology to support learning, from 1970s – 2020s

I’m an historian. In the middle of this ONL course, when we should dig deeper into the future possibilities of networking and collaborating, I want to look back to see how technology have changed from 1970s up till today, and how it will change for tomorrows students, and what this development have meant for our learning and teaching possibilities. To do this, I got a lot of help from an article by Diana Laurillard and by a report from EDUCAUSE. I have put together a chart, and doing this I also tried to look forward to see what will come next. But that was difficult! Therefore, I would appreciate some help and comments from you on this.

Here’s a link to an open document on Google drive if you want to collaborate on this. Of course, I do not regard this document as my work. I just started it and hope it will continue and result in something that we have created together, and can share.

The questions are: what kind of digital technology will come the next ten years, and how will this development transform student learning? That is one important question. Another question is how this will change teacher’s situation and role in learning. But of course there is more to be said about this and more questions to put.


Date New technology Old technology
Learning support
1970s Interactive computers Writing New medium for articulating and engaging with ideas
Local hard drives and floppy discs Paper Local storage with the user
1980s WIMP interfaces Contents, indexes,  page numbers Devices for ease of access to content
Internet Printing Mass production and distribution of content
Multimedia Photography, sound, and film Elaborated forms of content presentation
1990s Worldwide Web Libraries Wide access to extensive content
Laptops Published books Personal portable access to the medium
Email Postal services Mass delivery of communications messages
Search engines Bibliographic services Easier access to extensive content
Broadband Broadcasting, telephones Choice of elaborated content and immediacy of communication
2000s 3G Mobiles Paperbacks Low-cost access to elaborate content
Blogs Pamphlets Personal mass publishing
WEB 2.0 Library or book café where you met people From monologue to dialogue in mass communication
2010-2020 Cloud Computing Floppy disks Easy access and possibilities to collaborative work
Open Educational Resources LMS Blending campus courses with digital tools
Identity Management tools Passport Better possibilities to identify students at a distance
Learning Analytics Statistical modeling Developed tools to heöp student learning
Smartphones Mobile devices From 3G to ?
Collaborative Tools Group work Connection and collaboration grows


Social/Semantic web Static web and web 2.0 A more intelligent and intuitive web serves user needs even in HE


From Diana Laurillard, “E-Learning in Higher Education”, in Changing Higher Education, Edited by Paul Ashwin, RoutledgeFalmer, (2006) and The Future of Higher Education: Beyond the Campus, © 2010 EDUCAUSE (


If you want to take the tour once again to see if something new has been added, please do so!
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3 reaktioner på ”New technology to support learning, from 1970s – 2020s

  1. Thank you for a great blog-post! I love this historic perspective on where we are, how we got here and the projection into the future. I think in previous times it was easier to use history to predict, the development were slower. Today we are at so many exponential development trajectories and approaching many different kinds of tipping point and with the introduction of AI and bio-engeneering I think we do not have a clue about what will come. I am currently reading Homo Deus – a brief history of tomorrow by Yuval Noah Hariari which attempts to tackle these kinds of questions.


    • I have bought the new book by Yuval Noah Hariari, but not read it yet. I read the last one – Sapiens – and it was a great book, with a new perspective on the history of mankind.



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