It is many years ago that I had my first brush with television technology in the classroom. I was in the last year in primary school and at 10.45 in the morning on a Friday the large television was trundled carefully into the classroom so that the class could view the BBC’s Maths in Action programme which sought to make learning three dimensional by giving practical applications of measurement. There was always the panic when the teacher plugged in the aerial and had seconds to tune in the set before the programme started.
One Friday the fire alarm went off and a crestfallen teacher led us to the fire point, knowing that he would have to teach, rather than mark, when we returned to class and the programme had finished.
Some children spoke of a future with colour television programmes, but these were the dreamers, it wouldn’t happen in my lifetime.
By the time I was starting to teach, the televisions could play videos. For some reason, the schools invested heavily in the Betamax format, which was considered to be technically superior to the VHS system which eventually became the universal standard.
Now we could watch and re-watch the video at a time of a teacher’s choosing. The drama now was in getting the video to work – always a fraught time as no two video players seemed to be set up the same.
Essentially we were still passive observers of other people’s content. The only pedagogical change was that the teacher could stop the video at appropriate points and ask questions like ‘What happened next?’
Today a step change is available in video and online learning. This chart gives some idea of the scope and speed of those changes…