Flashback to 2000: Classroom Tech That Doesn’t Exist Anymore

Cutting edge classroom technology from 2000 was decidedly less advanced than what the average student can expect today.

Educational videos were often shown on video tapes with a TV and VCR that were wheeled into the room. Overhead projectors and floppy disks were classroom staples, and blackboards were still to the go-to teaching tool. In 2000, Wikipedia and iPods were months away, while Facebook, Youtube, and SMARTboards took several more years.

Since the turn of the 21st century, technology has progressed rapidly, leading to new opportunities and a fair share of distractions in the classroom. Educators should take a look back at some of the technology of the past to see how the modern classroom has evolved and which contemporary teaching tools may be on their way out.

classroom_tech_2000

Graveyard of Classroom Tech

For teachers educated in the early aughts, looking at these outdated devices can be a fun stroll down memory lane. While paper and pencils have been a classroom mainstay for decades, these items that were popular in 2000 have long since become obsolete.

  • Floppy DisksMashable compared old and new classroom tech. and pointed to the floppy disk as one of the casualties of modernity. Now replaced by external hard drives and cloud storage, the floppy disk is a thing of the past. The 3-inch hard floppies of the 2000s could often hold less than the free storage on a student’s phone today and had already replaced their actually floppy, larger predecessors.
  • Microfiche/Microfilm – Today’s students may be surprised that doing research in the past meant searching through a library’s collection of microfiche or film. These media were tiny pieces of film where old newspapers or documents were stored in libraries or archives. Microfiche is easier to store than newspapers and holds up better over time, but it can’t compete with the digitized collections of news and documents used by students today.
  • TV and VCR Carts – In 2000 and for many years, teachers used the TV and VCR carts to show everything from outdated education films to breaking news to rainy day movies. Today, teachers have far more options. Some stick to using Blu Ray on large and inexpensive flat screen TVs, while others opt for YouTube and a digital projector. There are many more ways to watch videos today and plenty of high-quality, free sources of documentaries and educational material.
  • Notebooks and Binders – While paper may never completely disappear from the classroom, the proliferation of inexpensive Chromebooks, tablets, and laptops allowed the classroom to become less paper reliant for everything from assignments to notes.
  • Chalkboards – Some educators still like the feel of chalkboards and plenty still use whiteboards, but SMARTboards have emerged as the state-of-the-art improvement. Chalkboards, with their squeaky noises and messy erasers were, the norm for decades. Now, with SMARTboards, students can see the day’s notes online, watch videos of demonstrations, and take more accurate notes.
  • Graphing Calculators – Black and white, pixelated graphing displays and a thick battery-filled body defined the class TI graphing calculators of 2000. Now, Texas Instruments has color-display, highly capable, sleek and rechargeable calculators available. Mashable noted that these new calculators may be lacking the nostalgic games of the TI-84 however. Both the old and new calculators can handle the rigors of pre-calc and algebra, but the new versions have a number of improvements.
  • Language tapes – Mashable also pointed to the language tapes as one of the casualties of new technology. These cassettes or CDs taught students how to pronounce specific words and asked them to repeat it back to themselves. Now, through various online software, apps, and audio-technology, students can learn on-the-go, talk to teachers remotely, and even learn on their own.
  • Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Reference Materials – In 2000, when students wanted to know the answer to a question, check a fact, or look up a synonym, it meant breaking out a reference book in the classroom or library. Today, students are able to Google the simple questions and use online databases for more complex research.

classroom_tech 2000

Looking Ahead

Much of the classroom technology from 2000 is gone and has been replaced with better options. That has happened time and time again from the switch from ink quill to ball point pen or typewriter to word processor. Classroom technology will continue to evolve and fit the needs of students. There are several classroom technologies today that are likely soon on their way out, ready to be replaced with something better.

  • Textbooks – Printed textbooks are heavy and expensive. Whether the school is purchasing the book in middle school or the student is buying it in college, this is a significant education cost. Web resources, eBooks, or some other technology on the horizon will likely replace textbooks in the near future as a cheaper, greener, and lighter option.
  • Computer Labs – Higher education technology website Campus Technology pointed to computer labs. as a current technology that’s on its way out. The rooms with rows of desktop computers could easily be replaced with a more dynamic space and laptop rentals.
  • Scantron Standardized Testing – Scantron testing is an easy option for teachers giving long multiple choice tests, but the technology is outdated. Students may soon be testing on digital devices, as many large standardized tests, such as the GRE, are already given or a new technology could replace the scantron.
  • Non-Interactive Whiteboards or Projectors – Many teachers and professors like to teach analog with overhead camera projectors and whiteboards, but it’s not hard to see a world where boards and projectors are all more easily integrated and connected. Aside from the SMARTboard, this might be a great place for innovation.

Of course, not every classroom technology is about to be phased out. Like the desk and the pencil, some technologies and tools are perfect for education and destined to be around for decades to come. It is likely that computers with play a significant and continuing role in education going forward. Additionally, tests and homework may change in form but not in substance – these are staples of learning.

2 Comments

  1. Claire

    April 20, 2017 at 5:50 am

    It’s interesting to read about the demise of the scantron! My school uses GradeCam through SchoolRunner, which allows teachers to easily print bubble sheets for each student that are tailored to their exams. Then, teachers can scan the completed bubble sheets by holding them up and allowing the computer to take a picture of them. I can grade hundreds of exams in a matter of minutes! However, if we were able to create a secure testing platform that prevented students from using any apps or the internet, multiple choice questions would be even easier and faster to grade. I do wonder about the removal of the teacher from grading though. What do you think are the potential impacts, positive and negative, for students with these advancements in testing?

  2. John

    April 24, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Scantron! They seemingly had a monopoly in education for so long. When I first started teaching I found it amazing they gave away the machines, but it made sense quickly when I saw how many of the forms the school was buying. The sound it made when it marked a group of answers wrong was like nothing else.
    The TV/VCR cart, another good one. Schools across the country now have rows and rows of tube tvs and vcr carts sitting, collecting dust.

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