From paper pads to iPads, the ways in which classroom teaching is conducted have come a long way. The continued advancement of in-class technological devices is not a new trend by any means; the introduction of the radio in the 1920s and the overhead projector in the 1940s represent just a few examples of the fast-moving nature of classroom technology.

To get a sense of the rate at which the digital age has advanced, read on for our pick of three more groundbreaking innovations in the educational technology industry that have taken off in the past decade alone.

1. Online learning

While the first fully online university was launched as early as 1996, making digital tuition available to the masses, it has only been in the past few years that the presence of institutionalised online learning resources has really sky-rocketed.

By 2006, it was reported that more than 96 per cent of the largest educational institutions provided some form of online learning service and a YouTube university and in-school Skype classes taught by far-flung teachers comprise just some of the ways this useful innovation is being put to use.

2. Social media

The social media trend almost seems to have sprung up overnight, and yet remains such a popular phenomenon that it would be hard to imagine contemporary life without it.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that teachers and academics should start utilising social media for education-related purposes, with surveys of UK institutions displaying a high level of use from academics.

Research conducted by online consultants Jadu shows that more than 70 per cent of academics use social media in some way. Certainly, it has become increasingly common for university staff and students to network in this way in order to arrange seminars, meetings and discuss classwork.

3. Tablets

Forming part of the mobile-social revolution, the proliferation of tablet and e-book devices presents an interesting development, from the original school slate to the digital touchscreen “slate”.

It was reported that the total universe spend in the global education technology market in 2012 increased by 23% to $11.6 Billion. Keeping abreast of things, South Korea has announced that it plans to replace all physical textbooks with e-books by the year 2015. However, schools might do well to hang fire; one school which gave out iPads to each of their pupils admitted that just a year later, half the costly devices had been broken.

With such rapid advancements in all spheres of education underway, it can be hard to keep up. What lies ahead for technology in the classroom? Will the current trends for social media and tablets endure?

If nothing else, the one thing we can all agree on is that it’s an extremely interesting and exciting time.