Education

Computers in the Classroom, Then and Now

April 22, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In case you needed a reminder about how far we’ve come in using technology in schools, I thought I’d send you to the Ed Week archives. Greg Chronister, our executive editor, passed along this story which ran in Education Week 25 years ago this week.

“Number of Computers in Schools Doubles,” said the headline, above the lede, which read: “Microcomputers were added to thousands of public-school classrooms during the past year, according to a new survey.”

The story goes on to describe how nearly 70 percent, or 55,765, of the nation’s elementary and secondary schools reported using computers for instruction in fall 1983, up from just 30 percent a year earlier. I was in my senior year of high school in New York state the previous fall, albeit in a Catholic school, and I can’t remember seeing a single computer in classrooms there.

By 1983, there was one computer for every 125 students enrolled in public schools. Apple brands dominated, according to the survey, representing about half those computers, followed by Radio Shack, Commodore, Atari, Texas Instruments, and IBM.

Fast forward to today. The data in 2009 Technology Counts show how far we’ve come. This trend story in Tech Counts, which came out last month, reports that for the 2005-06 school year, 3.8 students, on average, shared each instructional computer in the nation’s public schools. In South Dakota, just two students shared each computer, while in Utah, Delaware, California, Mississippi, and Rhode Island, there was one machine for every five students.

No matter where a child lives in the country these days, computers are a standard classroom feature. That may be why I get that shocked look from my children, and even some of my younger colleagues, when I remind them that “back in the day, we didn’t have computers in my school.”

I may be sensitive, but that look seems to suggest: “Wow, you must really be old.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Letter to the Editor EdWeek's Most-Read Letters of 2022
Here are this year’s top five Letters to the Editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Education In Their Own Words Withstanding Trauma, Leading With Honesty, and More: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our journalists highlight why stories on the impact of trauma on schooling and the fallout of the political discourse on race matter to the field.
4 min read
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
Education In Their Own Words Masking, Miscarriages, and Mental Health: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our reporters share the stories they wrote that rose above the fray—and why.
5 min read
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Allison V. Smith for Education Week
Education Opinion The Top 10 Rick Hess Straight Up Columns of 2022
NAEP, pre-K, who decides what gets taught. Those are among the most popular or impactful posts of the year.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty