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The changing role of technology in higher education Research Paper


The current technological advancement is more rapid than it has ever been in the world history. Instigating from the industrial revolution to the twentieth century, advancements in technology have been evolutionary. In fact, experts have been asserting that the world is moving from the industrial age of the twentieth century to the information age which plays a greater role in shaping the future.

Technological advancements have led to important changes that are experienced in almost every aspect of life and academia is not an exception. In education, particularly in higher learning institutions, advancements in technology have played vital roles and they have been applied in both learning and research. However, education especially at higher levels is deemed critical for technological innovation and advancements.

This paper looks at the evolutions of technological application particularly how they have been applied in higher learning institutions. The paper also traces the roles of technology in higher learning institutions from the historical perspective.

Evolution of technology in education

The application of technology can be traced back to the early stages in human developments when man began to use tools to perform activities such as painting the walls of the caves (Buchanan, 1991).

However, the history of technological usage in modern education began with the application of educational films in learning during the 1900s and the Presseys mechanical-teaching machines during the 1920s (Pannabecker, 1995). During these periods, technology was largely used in teaching.

The educational films and the mechanical teaching machines were mainly used as teaching aides especially in higher education institutions though they were later incorporated in all levels of the educational curriculum. Instructive films were used in tutorial rooms as substitutes to other training techniques.

In fact, a majority of the films used for educational purposes were in series for instance, episodic films demonstrating scientific experiments and principles. Every episode represented a particular principle or experiment. The films were used by students and tutors even at home and could be compared to the modern day use of computers.

Conversely, the Presseys mechanical-teaching machines which looked like the modern computer key boards or typewriters revolutionized the print technology in education. These teaching machines led to the development of e-learning as well as distance learning. The Presseys machines were developed so as to provide students with drills and practice items.

Basically, the technique that was used to understand the drill and information materials was simple and definite so as to allow routine teachings and learning through mechanical means (Pannabecker, 1995). For instance, the machine looked like the modern typewriter with a window displaying a question with at least four answers. Users have the opportunity to presses a key that they believe corresponds to the right answer.

The machine then records the answer at the back counter and reveals the next question. After completing, the test sheet is slipped back into the devise by the person recording the test and the score appears on the counter.

This type of functionality has been used in several educational online systems such as the Questionmark Perceptions where the testing and assessments of students are done perfectly in an automated manner.

The Questionmark Perception management and assessment system permits trainers and educators to schedule, author, report on surveys, deliver, test quizzes and examine. The system simplifies the assessment process and improves the quality of tests and questions. It also finds its applications in e-learning and distance education.

Large-scale application of new technology began in the 1940s prior to the Second World War when military institutions used films and other mediated materials to train soldiers. Such technological advancements during this period later evolved into presentation based technology such as the power point presentation which is used in computer aided instruction.

The whole idea was based on the fact that people can learn through aural and visual receptions (Pannabecker, 1995). The technologies that used the idea existed in many forms including the streaming videos and audios in addition to the power point presentations loaded with voice-over. Higher learning institutions incorporated these technological advancements in learning and teaching processes.

The most fascinating technological innovation during this time was the use of hypertexts. These were scripts that were exhibited on automated devises such as supercomputers with locus or hyperlinks that guided the students to other documents that could directly be retrieved via the key-press series.

Besides the written text, hypertext may be in form of tables, charts and graphs images as well as other presentation devices. The technology has been used in defining the structure of World Wide Web (WWW). It has a lithe and an easy to use set-up that helps in distributing the essential info through the internet.

Nevertheless, this technology required machines such as the V. Bush memex. Though complex, the use of hypertext led to further innovations in the presentation based technologies. The whole idea made the process of learning and teaching or the issuance of instructions to be simple (Buchanan, 1991).

Certainly, technological innovation during this time eased teaching and the process of giving instructions in higher learning institutions. This technological invention led to other inventions in the use of computer based learning and teaching process (Buchanan, 1991).

The 1950s innovations led to the realization of more advanced technologies that were more focused on the learning processes. The designs such as the Skinners Program-Instructions and Instructional Techniques by Bloom were being applied by higher learning institutions (Pannabecker, 1991). These instructional techniques integrated the hypertext with the mechanical teaching techniques to aid in the learning processes.

Models that were based on these designs were known as the Computer-Based Training. In computer based training, courses were mainly delivered through the use of computers and WWW played a significant role in the whole process. Institutions of higher learning began to use the new innovations during that time especially in the highest levels where scores of researches were carried out (Blackhurst, 2005).

Such early innovations brought about Computer-Based Training methods which are still being applied in higher institutions though they have evolved into more sophisticated models. The Computer-Based models concentrated more on the instructions or teaching.

While the Skinny design on Program-Instruction focused on the behavioral objective formulation and divided the contents of the commands into smaller units, the Blooms Instructional Technique diversify the command and time depending on the learners needs (Pannabecker, 1991). Computer based training designs focused on learning, teaching and researches carried out by institutions of higher learning.

The development of the Computer-Based Training models led to the development of the Computer-Aided Instructions that were sometimes called the Computer-Assisted Instructions during the 1970s through to the 1990s. These models resembled the current e-content which is the core of today’s e-learning (Yadgir, 2011).

The models have evolved into what is currently known as the Web-based training or the e-instruction. Often, web-based training is what is being applied by the higher learning institutions and it aids in distance learning. With the models, the designer of courses breaks learning contents into minor portions and these texts portions are then improved via visual aid and hypermedia appearance (Becker & Ravitz, 1999)

The mid 80s till mid 90s saw the dramatic advancement on the digitized networking and communication in education. The digitized networking and communication in education was popularized by the increased use of World-Wide Web, through emails and other forms of networking including forums (Blackhurst, 2005).

The WWW brought about a different form of online learning. It increased the use of the traditional online learning either based on the Computer-Based Learning or Computer-Based Training. Both cases involved the interactions between the Computers-Based programs and students.

In some cases, the students were involved in computer drills together with tutorials and simulations. Both could easily be delivered through the World-Wide Web which transpires even today (Yadgir, 2011).

Finally, the emergence of ubiquitous technologies and multiple mobile in the 2000s provided new propulsion to the positioned learning concepts often in favor of learning-in-context scenarios (Yadgir, 2011). The assimilated learning conception has similarly been drawn on by some literature to designate the melded learning setups by slotting in learning courses in colleges, workrooms and in realistic locales.


Essentially, there has been tremendous growth in technological advancements which materialized at a time when the higher learning institutions needed them most. In comparison to earlier periods, technology has significantly evolved beyond doubts. While the pen and notebook formed the prior generation class tool kit, today the students go to classes armed with laptops, iPad, iPods and smartphones.


Becker, H. J., & Ravitz, J. L. (1999). The influence of computer and Internet use of teachers’ pedagogical practices and perceptions. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 31(4), 356-384.

Blackhurst, A. E. (2005). Perspectives on applications of technology in the field of learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 28(2), 175-178.

Buchanan, R. A. (1991). Theory and narrative in the history of technology. Technology and Culture, 32, 365-376.

Pannabecker, J. R. (1991). Technological impacts and determinism in technology education: Alternate metaphors from social constructivism. Journal of Technology Education, 3(1), 43-54.

Pannabecker, J. R. (1995). For a history of technology education: Contexts, systems, and narratives. Journal of Technology Education, 7(1), 43-56.

Yadgir, S. A. (2011). Leading in a technological age. Educational Research and Reviews, 6(10), 664-670.

This Research Paper on The changing role of technology in higher education was written and submitted by user Lilia Ramos to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Lilia Ramos studied at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA, with average GPA 3.6 out of 4.0.

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Ramos, Lilia. "The changing role of technology in higher education." IvyPanda, 19 Dec. 2019,

1. Lilia Ramos. "The changing role of technology in higher education." IvyPanda (blog), December 19, 2019.


Ramos, Lilia. "The changing role of technology in higher education." IvyPanda (blog), December 19, 2019.


Ramos, Lilia. 2019. "The changing role of technology in higher education." IvyPanda (blog), December 19, 2019.


Ramos, L. (2019) 'The changing role of technology in higher education'. IvyPanda, 19 December.

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