In the earliest days of teaching, before the invention of microphones, slide projectors, and the like, teachers everywhere primarily relied on their voice and a chalkboard to present information to students. From the evidence of historic photos, the earliest U-M classrooms were typically equipped with chalk boards and relied on natural light from windows for the most part for illumination with gaslight for rooms without windows. Visual aids could also be brought in, such as a large map or globe.
One of the earliest units to provide newer forms of technology on campus was the University Extension Service, whose roots dated to the 1850s when the U-M began informally offering faculty lectures to outside organizations. The Extension Service was officially chartered in 1911 to sponsor faculty visits to communities and educators around the state. In addition to coordinating hundreds of annual lectures on a wide range of subjects, it soon also added a library-based research service and the loan of slides and other materials, and in 1937 began to offer 16mm motion pictures on subjects ranging from health and hygiene to geography and civic problems.