A Short History of the Digital Revolution, Part 2 of 4

Education Educational Technology

The Advent of High Speed Internet

[Read Part 1 of this Series]

Educational possibilities exponentially multiplied through the widespread availability of faster data transfer speeds made possible by enhanced fiber optic cable. In 1997 the popular launch of wireless (Wi-Fi, also known as WLAN) service and, soon after, the availability of higher data transfer speeds on mobile networks became available.[1] These technologies provided untethered Internet connections both inside buildings and in open-air environments, making access to the World Wide Web and web-based applications available virtually everywhere. These feats of genius transformed computer networking, mobile applications and with them, global communication.

The Internet Created an Information Revolution

The speed of change in the world and having access to a seemingly infinite amount of knowledge led to the development of an around-the-clock communication cycle. With this 24-hour information loop came the cultural and vocational expectation to be informed. The popularization of Social Media in the early 2000s through the launch of services like Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others elevated the personal use of technology to levels never previously seen.[2] An “always-on” or hyper-connected digital lifestyle soon developed, with the invention of an enormous number of Internet-connected mobile, handheld, and wearable technologies which functioned as virtual personal assistants that literally placed the world’s wealth of knowledge at one’s fingertips.[3]

The Infancy of the “Internet of Things” (IoT)

The sheer number of connected gadgets being produced became staggering. There were soon mobile digital devices of every imaginable size. Then the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) became a reality, where formerly inanimate objects became interactive products that shared both trivial and useful information about nearly everything.[4] At the same time, there was an increased appreciation of the importance of diverse international perspectives by many tech leaders in more developed countries. This led to the creation of even more mobile digital devices at reasonable price points and the near-immediate adoption of mobile technologies worldwide.[5]

The Development of Apps Increased Technology’s Simplicity, Productivity, and Usability

The utility of these tools were made exponentially more relevant through the development of innovative software and mobile applications or “apps” which made personal smart devices nearly indispensable in the contemporary world.[6] The confluence of these global, paradigmatic shifts have resulted in the creation of a knowledge behemoth providing formerly unimaginable possibilities. This Digital Revolution has radically reshaped our world and permanently altered the human experience, resulting in the current Digital Age.


1 “A Brief History of Wi-Fi.” The Economist. June 10, 2004. http://www.economist.com/node/2724397. Accessed January 6, 2015.

2 The History of Social Networking. Created: August 5, 2014. http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/the-history-of-social-networking. Accessed January 5, 2015.

3 Anderson, Janna and Lee Rainie. Main Findings: Teens, Technology, and Human Potential in 2020. Published February 29, 2012. http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/02/29/main-findings-teens-technology-and-human-potential-in-2020. Accessed October 10, 2013.

4 The Internet of Things. http://www.theinternetofthings.eu. Accessed January 6, 2015.

5 Vazquez-Cano, Esteban. “Mobile Distance Learning with Smartphones and Apps in Higher Education” Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice 14, no. 4 (2014): 1505-1520.

6 McConatha, Douglas, Christian Penny, Jordan Schugar, and David Bolton. 2014. Mobile Pedagogy and Perspectives on teaching and Learning. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. pp. 108-109.

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