How Technology Has Changed Since We Were at School

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I received an email recently from School Places, a website that allows you to search and claim private school vacancies online in Australia to make the application process easier. I thought it’s a helpful concept and worth sharing. I was asked to discuss ways technology has changed my children’s education, and one evening, my husband and I sat on the couch after the kids were in bed and talked about it. We ended up laughing at just HOW much things have changed over the past 20 years, and as we chatted, my husband gleefully jotted down 10 ways technology has changed the way our kids do school compared to our own schooling experience.

10 Ways Technology has Changed your Child’s Education

10 ways technology has changed your child's education (compared to when you were at school)

“When I was a boy” I hear myself say as I type this, something I was determined never to say myself when I heard the same from the older generation. But when I look back on my own schooling, I am amazed at the relative lack of technology we had access too and how different it is now for my children.

1. Printers that actually print what you want

In my primary school days we had the latest in printing technology at home…a dot matrix printer! I still remember the screech of the printer head running across the ribbon, hopefully your piece would print before the ribbon ran out, or the bus came. The end result was ok for text, but pictures, rendered in their monochromatic glory were invariably spoiled by streaks and quite frankly looked rubbish! These days full colour, high definition printers are easily affordable and really allow children to express their creativity.

Dot Matrix Printer

2. Storage media

I recall when the world was changing from 5.25” to 3.5” floppy disks. These new discs were obvious smaller, but tougher and came with a whopping 1.44MB of storage space…enough space to swap that new game, I mean assignment with friends! Then came ‘burnable’ CDs 600-700MB, they really were the thing! Now days our children have access to GBs of cheap and reliable storage in the form of USB drives; so easy and with plenty of room for all their presentations and media.

Floppy Disk

3. Data projectors

There were OHPs (Overhead Projectors), and the really cool teachers had colour transparencies! Some classrooms might have had a TV on a trolley, the height of portable technology! In my teenage years data projectors were massive, noisy and expensive, but as with most things on this list they have become very portable, quiet and are able to quickly and easily display all manner of digital media in a way that I never could have imagined in my early school years.

OHP- Overhead Projector

4. Computer programs

Computers are far easier to operate now as the interface between the user and the technology has improved so much. Early computer software required manual entering of code to produce a desired function. Slowly various operating systems were developed that have matured into sophisticated programs that allow a relatively intuitive way to ‘get around’ when working on a computer. Add to this the improvement in the individual programs themselves and the creative possibilities afforded by a computer are almost limitless.


5. Phones that can fit in your hand

Do you remember the ‘brick’ phones? They were hard enough for an adult to hold, let alone a child, and hideously expensive. Mobile (cell) phones of my children’s era are small, easy to use and can be almost any price from very inexpensive, to well, still expensive. It does give a certain piece of mind when the children make their way home walking or on the bus, and certainly gives flexibility when trying to organise the taxi run to and from school events.

Vintage Mobile Phone

6. Computers that can fit in your hand

Well I’m not quite old enough to say that my first computer took up a whole room, but it was very basic and couldn’t do much at all…laptops well they were amusing. In 2015 my children can bring to school in their bag a tablet with far more computational power than a super-computer of my childhood.

Retro Computers in the classroom

7. Digital media

It used to be very difficult to gather and present different forms of media in a useful presentation. Video was analogue and tape based, audio was also analogue and tape based (but not the same type of tape mind you), pictures were on film, trying to get them all together was a nightmare. And then came the digital revolution, video and still images could be recorded to a digital file, as could audio. That was all well and good, but the challenge of combining those together into a coherent presentation continued to be challenging. Digital imaging and audio continue to improve, but for my children, the software that is available to put these media together is readily available and easy to use…no excuses for pictures stuck onto cardboard now.

Vintage Boom Box Portable Radio Cassette Player

8. School networks

The first time that I was exposed to a school computer network was in high school, in the ‘computer lab’; 2 classrooms of computers linked together. These networks allowed you to access your stored data from any computer, print files and even play networked games! By today’s standard it was primitive, no wireless connection and no BYO devices. Today many schools provide a wireless network for their students which can be accessed by a portable device. My eldest daughter brings a portable device to her high school, and then ‘logs on’ to the schools secure network; this enables vast amounts of information and programs to be available electronically almost instantly and at any time. It also means that the giant backpack full of books is an endangered species.

9. Email

This was one of those things that knocked your socks off…you mean I can send a message to someone on the other side of the world in a second? Email is something that we take completely for granted in our day and age, but I challenge you to remember how we communicated before it became common place…my wife and I use to write letters to each other, you could only call on a land line phone etc. Email has transformed our communication, teachers, parents and students now share a flow of information

10. The Internet

When I was in high school the internet was starting to gain traction, albeit in an immature form. The computers were slow, the modems were even slower, browsers were clunky and monitors pokey. What a difference a generation makes! The internet now stands at the very center of our information overloaded world, anything you want to know can be found, the answer to any assignment question is just a click away. As someone once said however, with great power comes great responsibility. The whole book case of encyclopedias our family had when I was a child is now obsolete, but there are also many new dangers that we need to protect our children from.

The incredible speed of technological advancement that we have seen in our lifetime is really quite staggering. Our children have access to more information than could ever be utilised, and ways of storing, creating and presenting their ideas in new and exciting ways. This technology is changing the way that school is conducted, most of this change is positive, but as always, needs to be guided for the protection and maximum benefit of our children who partake in it.


This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

SchoolPlaces.com.au helps take the pressure off families looking for a private school vacancy for their child. Search real-time vacancies and claim a last-minute place at one of Australia’s leading schools. Get on board and start saving today.

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