History of Teaching Aids


Teaching aids illustrate key points in lessons and rouse students' interests. The use of teaching aids dates back to as early as 150 B.C. with the Greeks. Visual, aural and technological aids evolved over time. Using a variety of teaching aids allows students to learn on many different levels.

Early Use

  • Globes were among the first teaching aids. According to Bookrags.com, "The ancient Greeks realized that the earth was spherical and are known to have used globes as early as 150 B.C." Another early teaching aid was the hornbook, "which was used in English schools from the mid-1400s (and later in colonial America) through the early nineteenth century," Bookrags.com says. The hornbook was a flat board with paper pasted to it, and "a transparent piece of horn covered the paper to protect it." The blackboard evolved from the hornbook.

Visual Aids

  • The first teaching aids were predominantly visual aids. The blackboard changed education in 1801 because "teaching could be a tedious and challenging business for American teachers before the chalkboard was a teaching tool," according to Ergoindemand.com. Examples of other visual aids include models, drawings, specimens, blackboards, bulletin boards, flannel boards, magnetic boards, dry-erase boards, overhead transparencies, photographs and slides.

Aural Aids

  • One of the most essential parts of learning is listening. Radio and television entered the classroom after World War II. "Although instructional radio failed in the 1930s, instructional television was viewed with new hope (in the 1940s)," Michael Jeffries says in "The History of Distance Education." Film was created in the early 1900s, but it "came into widespread classroom use in the 1940s and 1950s." Cassette tape recordings emerged to assist in teaching foreign languages in the 1960s. Today, "students can watch educational broadcasts to closed-circuit lectures on cable or satellite television; they can also view instructional videotapes and (DVDs), according to Bookrags.com."

Technological Aids

  • Personal computers and Internet access entered schools in the 1990s. Most U.S. classrooms had at least one computer by 1994, and within two years many schools began rewiring for the Internet. Computers and the Internet changed the way teaching aids are used in the classroom. According to Bookrags.com, "The teacher's changing role from knowledge provider to learning coach and facilitator requires the ability to guide students in making the best educational and informational use of technology." Technology no longer assists teachers; it often dominates the classroom. Our society has become so immersed in technology that it is nearly impossible to stimulate students without it.


  • Some students may rely too heavily on what teaching aids can provide, especially computers and the Internet. Having easy access to vast amounts of online information, but not enough guidance or encouragement for students to think for themselves, can lead to plagiarism. Bookrags.com says, "New learning aids that encourage students to think critically and creatively must be devised."

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Ken Bosma Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Anssi Koskinen Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Tilemahos Efthimiadis
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