A Trip to the Past and Future of Educational Computing: Understanding Its Evolution


Although machine use in education was introduced in the 1920s with instructional radio and 1950s with instructional television, these technologies lacked one of the most important components of learning - interaction. Computers have filled this void. The functions they have served, the ways they have been used, and the terms they have been given have changed since their introduction to our schools, but their rooted presence in our educational lives has continually increased over time. Our in-depth review of the literature illustrated that there are three distinct periods of educational computing based on the predominant computer technologies and computer functions of the time. We named these three periods the "Mainframe Period", "Microcomputer Period", and "Internet Period". Taking the past and current trends into account and considering such shifts in society as moving from standardization to customization and personalization, from proprietary resources to open resources and from using different tools for different functions to convergence of functionalities in one tool. We propose the next period, which we call the "Personalized Computing Period", in which the predominant computer technology will be "Personalized Integrated Educational Systems" that serve four major functions to support the information-age paradigm of education: Record-keeping, planning, instruction, and assessment, as well as such secondary functions as communication, general student data, school personnel information and system administration.