No doubt, the pedagogical practices associated with the blackboard have shifted over the course of the past two hundred years. Now it’s more likely to be a device used by a teacher (a female teacher, a shift facilitated by Horace Mann’s normal schools) and not the student. Increasingly, I suppose, it’s a whiteboard, perhaps one with a touchscreen computer attached. But it is still worth thinking about the blackboard as a disciplinary technology – one that molds and constrains what happens in the classroom, one that (ostensibly) makes visible the mind and the character of the person at the board, whether that’s a student or a teacher.
In this talk to design students from Georgetown University, Audrey Watters unpacks a history of educational technology often overlooked. Too often when we talk about EdTech we rush to talk about the computer. The problem with this is that it overlooks so many developments and decisions that led to that point. To explain her point, she discusses the origin of the blackboard. What I found interesting were the pedagogical practices associated with its beginnings. A reminder of how technology is a system. I think that too often we choose narrative and convenience over complexity within such conversations.