Instructional Technology/History Pre1900
Instruction has been around as long as there have been humans on the earth. In the beginning, instruction consisted of one on one teaching of elements required for survival; what foods were edible, how to create tools, etc. During this time, the methods that were used consisted of one person telling and showing another person the simple information. Humans did not start seriously thinking about educational methods until much later. This document will be sketching the history of instructional technology from the Elder Sophists to 1900.
The Elder Sophists (~5 BC)
The Elder Sophists can be considered the first instructional technologists (Saettler, 1968). They used public lecture to gain students. This was the first time that education moved from one on one instruction to mass instruction. The Sophists were different from the various teachers of the time because they believed all technology was worth learning, from statecraft to handicraft. Focusing on general education, the Sophists were the first group of teachers to use systematic instruction.
Pierre Abelard (1079-1142)
Pierre Abelard taught at the Notre Dame Cathedral School and was known for his method of teaching. Abelard's approach was to present pros and cons of theological or philosophical propositions and leave the formulaton of conclusions to his students. His teachings had a direct influence on St. Thomas Aquinas, who developed the Scholastic method, which focused on teaching students how to aquire information for themselves. This method would never have been created without the influence of Pierre Abelard.
Johann Amos Comenius (1592-1670)
Comenius' major contribution to instructional technology was his instructional method - used in science to analyze and improve the instructional process. He is considered the first true forrunner of instructional technology. Saettler states:
..[Comenius] laid the foundation of a systematic understanding of the teaching-learning process and anticipated, to a remarkable extent, the modern concept of instructional technology as applied science in support of the practical arts.
Unfortunately, Comenius' principles of instructional method was lost until the mid 19th century. Since found, many of his ideas have been incorperated into the methods instructional technologists use today.
1700 through 1900
Prior to 1800, the American schools were one room school houses with a teacher with very little advanced education. While many students might belong to the school, the instruction was still primarily done on an individual basis, with the students comming to the teacher for one on one tutalage during the day.
The Lancasterian System
Joseph Lancaster created a systematic way of teaching many students at once. Lancaster created a learning system that provided organized lessons in a graded plan of study. More importanly, his system was relatively inexpensive and had a higher success rate than the traditional methods of teaching at the time. School systems in American cities started to buy the system to assist in creating a free public school system. Because Lancaster was the first to introduce order and system into the instructional method used in American schools, he is considered a forrunner of todays instructional technologists.
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
Pestalozzi took educational theories presented by Jean Jacques Rousseau and developed a system of instruction that focused on allowing the student to learn through multiple senses. He believed that by teaching through the objects around the learner, the learner would be able to comprehend the concepts easier than just being told the information. For example: to learn arithmetic, the learner should count the things around them to come to an understanding of what each number meant. Like the Lancasterian system, Pestalozzi's method moved away from the rote memorization that had plagued early American schools, and moved towards group lessons. This method also challenged the educator, since he or she needed to have a thourough understanding of the subject as well as good classroom management and questioning skills.
Saettler, P., (1968). A History of Instructional Technology (pp 11-35). New York: McGraw-Hill.