Call for papers: How computers entered the classroom, 1960-2000
In historical research, there are now numerous studies devoted to digital change in Europe. The term “digital change” is used to cover all the structural adjustment processes – political, economic, social and cultural – that society is undergoing both as a result of and in response to the progressive introduction of digital technology to our everyday lives. As computers became gradually smaller, more affordable and easier to use, they spread from universities and research institutions to offices, small companies, libraries, private homes and classrooms. Today they are not only used by scientists and engineers, but also by the general public. Digital technologies have gradually permeated everyday tasks and interactions at home, work, education and leisure. This development is often associated with the notion of an emerging “digital society”.
However, in research on the history of education, the question of how computers conquered the classroom, has so far been totally neglected. Almost 20 years ago, in his ground-breaking study on the implementation of new information technologies in Silicon Valley schools, Larry Cuban impressively demonstrated the importance of a historical perspective for understanding the digital present. But only recently did historians take up this challenge. Research projects and historical publications are beginning to address the role of education and training in the emergence of a “digital society”. However, comparative or transnational studies are still rare in recent research and it is almost impossible to obtain an overview of the different regional and national developments. Whilst studies in the USA are now available, the introduction of computers in European schools has not yet been comprehensively analysed. We would like to address this research gap with an edited volume that deals with the introduction of various microchip-based technologies in schools and universities in Europe. National case studies on developments in the north, south, east and west of Europe will be invited, as well as historical studies of transnational entanglements related to the introduction of new technologies in the classroom.
The individual contributions will focus on the driving forces behind the introduction of computers and other microchip-based technologies in education. In a heuristic approximation, government agencies, computer hardware and software producers, telecommunication companies, interested teachers, computer enthusiasts, students, publishers of teaching materials, professional and business associations, can all be included as influential actors or interest groups. Studies on public schools, universities and vocational schools should be considered as they are likely to play a special role in the introduction of computers. Individual historical case studies should not only focus on the purchase and implementation of digital hardware, but also on the acquisition and development of specialized software for educational purposes. However, the history of the introduction of computers in the classroom cannot be told without considering the didactic discussions about the teaching of computer literacy and IT competence.