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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
List Archives
Technology and Its Implications in the Classroom
February-March 1998

Ironically enough the subject on the net today is technology with just a few questions to consider:

What should be the role of technology in education today?; Where is technology taking us in terms of our quality of life?; What are we teaching young people through example about the importance, (or lack thereof), of technology?; and to connect to segue from Sally, "How do you see technology as a viable tool for assessment"?

Any other related questions or ideas are welcome. So we are off and running and looking forward to your responses.

--Maggie Hoyt

Lots of great questions Maggie! I often wonder about the role of technology in education today. I think it is a great motivational tool -an amazing one for that matter. But I have concerns. 

First, the basics. Sure, technology is a basic for future employment in our industrial world, but what is the value of technology when kids can't read or write. O.K., use technology as a tool in teaching reading, writing and math. Great idea! But this is where we need to focus on training teachers how to do this. I think we have a long way to go before the majority of teachers are able to fully integrate technology with their curricula. 

Technology in terms of quality of life. I worry!!! I worry about the kids who do have computers and Internet at home and never seem to go outside, run around and exercise. Kids need sports and other outlets that are social and physical. Kids need to learn a balance in life (as we all do). I think kids know that technology is important - and I think it's coming just as much from outside the school as from within the school. Parents are pushing technology - from having a computer at home or realizing themselves how necessary technology is for employment, and thus making their kids aware of this. 

My concerns about technology (or the minuses) are about the garbage on the Internet and teaching kids to be selective and constructively inquisitive.

What do you mean by "How do you see technology as a viable tool for assessment"? DO you mean how do we assess reading, writing and math (and the other disciplines) using technology? Or how do we assess students technological abilities?

Other questions to address:
Does technology improve student learning? (Yes, every kid loves a computer - but does student work facilitated/linked to technology - surpass non-technologically integrated work???)
Do kids learn to read better by reading a book out loud or to themselves in a reading class - or do they learn better by reading a book on the computer with lots of great graphics? Does the latter take away from the development of an appreciation for reading (a valuable tool to sway boredom as an adult). Doing art on a computer by no means reaches the true experience of doing fine art, but it does develop an interest in graphic art.

Ah, the science project - the best science-computer project that I've done was when students animated their control experiments. Presently my students are working on a weathering hyper-studio project (multi-cards: text intro, animations or storyboards that show mechanical and chemical weathering) - when the students actually have to show the weathering process. I am able to see who understands weathering and who doesn't (as
well as who knows how to animate and who doesn't). But some of the students are bored with this project (8th graders who have had tech since 7th grade). They want to play games and listen to CD's. 

The Internet as a research tool - great! Planning and monitoring up the wazoo.

--Lexi McGill

Lexi, Thank you for your cogent remarks on technology. It does not surprise me that you are the first speaker on the subject. You raise points that should generate much response. Before we carry this dialogue any further I should make myself clarify my own terms. You wrote:
"What do you mean by "How do you see technology as a viable tool for assessment"? DO you mean how do we assess reading, writing and math (and the other disciplines) using technology? Or how do we assess students technological abilities?"

I think that what I meant is "How can technology function as a tool for assessment like a conventional test does for a history class. Certainly electronic portfolios are getting notice in Boston, but colleges do not yet accept them in lieu of graded report cards, and then there is the issue of integrity of the documents so it raises a lot of questions still, more than we have answers. Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with this?

The other side of the coin is how do we measure the improvement of learning using computers. How much research is out there to demonstrate the truth of this? Any takers?

Last Tues. I went on a field trip to an ad agency in Boston. I was dismayed to learn that computer drawing was more important than pen and ink or chalk. I agree that the work place is driving a new generation of skills. I am reminded of the arts and crafts movement in the early part of this century, the industrial era when architects and interior designers like Mary Jane Colter and Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to get back to nature, to roots and to "hands-on", but not in the sense of on your computer keyboard. Maybe we will be  seeing some strong movements in that respect in our year 2000.

I personally agree with you on all the points of quality of life... that chained as I am to the computer at times I too should be out playing. For all the time it saves me, the more projects and work I am creating for myself.

--Maggie Hoyt

I love it and all that technology brings to me professionally: a challenge, access, exposure, exchange and even more surprises.

So, the first question that arises is equity. When I wanted my students to exchange with their peers across the shores to Puerto Rico, New York and the West Coast, I brought their math stories home. From home I emailed them. The reply came. I printed the communication and went with it to the Xerox machine. Why not? I have reproduced the only book, the only resource for so long. And now the email. 

This is technology for many inner-city students. We had Net Day last year. Schools got phone lines but no access. Finally we have 2 computers for the school connected to the Internet. One is available to deserving students during their weekly computer class. The other is available to teachers in the cafeteria. Equity? Assessment? A nearby affluent community has computers in every classroom for public school children from kindergarten on. In sixth grade, at my current placement we could have one computer in the classroom if someone would find the computer table that was misplaced upon delivery during Christmas vacation. 

Pardon my rambling enthusiasm. I stumble over lack of equity on my way home.

--Berta Berritz

Equity is a key issue. What do you think out there? The high schools in Boston seem to be doing a better job with access than the elementary and middle. The goal now is to get the computers on classroom teachers' desks to use as a teaching curriculum tool. Professional development is the key to getting this to work. 

I am reflecting on an article, "Computers Drive the Debate" that appeared in the Boston Globe last Feb. 22 in the Learning section. A math teacher among others weigh the role of technology in the classroom. The Cambridge math teacher says that computers are new fangled blackboards etc. and that if teachers understood how to use them to teach,  they would be instructional tools that would enhance teaching.  

The thrust of the article is that the hardware and even software is arriving into the classroom albeit inequitably as Berta had pointed out, but even those who have it are not sure what to do. The big thing here is professional development which none of my Snowbird group would probably deny is the key to making change effective and lasting. 

We know phones are a way of life, that white boards are to chalk boards what electronic communication is to print materials. Did I say that correctly? The deal is to get people like Lexi and David and Peggy, etal. out there who know how to use the technology and educate the educators. The kids are progressing at an alarmingly fast rate and we had better keep up! 

Any feedback? 

--Maggie Hoyt

The biggest difference between computers and blackboards is that blackboards are content-free while computers are not.

Yes, blackboards are context-rich (the "frontal teaching" paradigm drips from them). But with computers you get SOFTWARE and INFORMATION ENVIRONMENTS, and these are the active elements that enter the classroom and compete with the teacher's own sense of appropriate selection and pacing of content.

I'm not advocating against the use of computers here - but I AM advocating against the comparison with blackboards. If you won't teach with television, don't teach with computers - the comparison is more apt. That's a generalization but so is the other one.  
All this said, if you put rich technology in a school and technology coordinators enabled with time and empowered with the mission to promote and support their use (rather than run about fixing machines), this would be an infinitely more useful expenditure of funds than hiring staff developers who know how to use technology in their own culture and context to promote visions to those in other environments without the human or technological infrastructure to implement similar visions.

--Bram Moreinis

Bram's point about tech coordinators in schools who are more than trouble shooters fixing machines, but function as staff developers for their schools makes a lot more sense than all these other agenda/paid professional developers..." who come and go talking of Michelangelo".

In Boston, a federal "Pioneer" technology project is underway. Classroom teachers who are effectively using technology in their classrooms apply and are selected on a very competitive basis. They receive a $2K stipend/materials grant + four computers in their classrooms to further develop their curriculum. They then demonstrate their project and invite "adapter" teachers who can also get 4 computers and use the same curriculum in their class. The skills are mushrooming and although it is too early to evaluate, the plan looks promising.

On another note, Charlotte McCullough, a tech teacher in Boston recently gave a seminar on Technology at the Harvard Teachers' Network. She reinforces the notion of equity, professional development and digital portfolios as waves to reach the terra firma. 

--Maggie Hoyt

Hi Everyone in the discussion of technology - Regarding Bram's technology parallel - although I think the comparison that television is more apt than a blackboard is to a computer - I firmly believe the computer must be taught in school - as it is an invaluable tool - not just a "giver" of information - like the tv. Using a tv can be useful but has the caveat of becoming a more passive tool teachers use when feeling lazy. Computers, although having the capability to be an object to which one only need "watch," there are so many more uses and ones which require active involvement and skill building. 

In my present incarnation as Teacher Center Specialist - one of my responsibilities has been to help teachers become competent on computers, so that they themselves can use them - to design lessons, create necessary documents, etc, but also teach their students, in turn.

I don't think this should be a "if you can't beat them, join them," sensibility. Computers are not the latest fad, soon to become history - they are a tool to make many parts of our lives richer - if you ask me...

--Rachel Dahill-Fuchel

We are fortunate in having two Pioneer techies on our staff and our school is well on its way of becoming "wired". We also have a wonderful Vista technologist who is doing what you suggest, working with teachers and students to create their own skills in using the computer as an extension of the chalkboard. I feel, and you know how long it has taken me to get to this point, that computers are more than tools. They allow a student (and teacher) to go beyond the instructional materials presented in the classroom. The materials presented is fine for the average students but with computer skills it allows those more precocious students to explore their own interests. Thus a teacher with chalkboard becomes a catalyst to students. Like anything else in life, activities start off as games and then more practical applications are found. If the activity is not useful and just remains in the game stage, it atrophies.

As you can see from this stream of conscious I am going beyond the chalkboard. 

--Alex Pappas

In my new role at the district, I'm wrestling with these questions on a weekly basis. I am a techno-enthusiast awaiting the day that technology becomes an invisible tool. My dream is to walk into a classroom where teachers are planning their lessons and deciding which tool(e.g., computer, laser disc, or cable tv) will help their students learn best. Will students track El Nino and predict where it will strike next by inputting their data into a data base or placing information on index cards and sorting by hand? The ability to manipulate the data and focus on finding the answer to where El Nino will strike next makes the computer an easy choice. 

Technology is on the education agenda and I feel it should be. Too many schools are in the "have-not" category, and the time has come to level the playing field so that all students have the "basic resources." I firmly believe that technology is part of the basic resources, and all students should not only have access to it but also use it daily.

In my district, we have 24 elementary schools. One of our schools with state-of-the-art technology (this year's model) just got a T1 line with access to the Internet in the computer lab and six classrooms. Students are able to research topics with unlimited access to the global community. What happens when a student from this school transfers to another school in the district and can no longer access the Smithsonian web site because the school doesn't have a phone line in the library, computer lab or classroom. Equity issues are raised. Teachers need to consider the type of skills their students will need in the  global society. Cooperative groups, problem solving, critical thinking and research strategies are no longer buzz words for grant writers. These are the skills that students will need to meet the job market of the twenty-first century.  

I also believe the present-day computer lab/cluster/coordinator at the school site and the school librarians have a chance to redefine their role in the school setting. Most computer teachers/coordinators and school librarians in New York City work one-on-one with a class, but I believe they can be more effective working with the classroom teacher and helping the students use technology tools to prepare a hypercard stack on a topic for presentation or gather research from CD Rom encyclopedias. This cannot be done in the present-day model, for these teachers are covering the class when the classroom teacher is on a prep. As more and more computers are placed in the classrooms, the media specialist(computer coordinator or school librarian) can move into a staff developer position, for they have strategies and examples of ways the use of technology can help students attain learning objectives. Sharing their techniques with classroom teachers or working as a team can be another way to help the integration of technology in schools.

--Peggy Wyns-Madison

I have to say that I don't agree with comparing a computer to a TV. Unless we are talking about very selective TV. TV is a massive industry of entertainment (and garbage). Yes, I suppose, it's a stress reducer for some. Computers are a medium of self-guided production, research and entertainment. You are in control of your computer (for the most part), while the TV tends to control you. No, I don't own a TV (one of two people I know who doesn't).

--Lexi McGill

It might be useful in assessing the impact of technology on student achievement to think about student achievement as being either quantitative or qualitative in nature. 

Quantitative student achievement is the sort that can be easily measured, is testable using standardized tests, and is what the general public usually thinks of when the words "student achievement" are used. Reading ability, math and spelling skills, knowledge of historical events are all examples of quantitative student achievement. Though not necessarily thought of as achievement, student attendance is also an easily quantifiable measure.

Qualitative student achievement is the sort that is not easily measured or easily scaled, but is thought to be important enough to teach as a skill or ability. Qualitative student achievement often takes the form of "authentic" performance tasks that are complex combinations of many skills. Students setting up and running a mock business, or giving  a presentation of his/her portfolio to an audience, being able to work cooperatively in a team setting are examples of such tasks. Being able to find one's way around a  computer operating system, operating a scanner, setting up a spreadsheet (to help run that business) are examples of qualitative tasks that exist in the technological realm. Such skills are thought of as being necessary but not always thought of as "student achievement."

(Understanding the nature of the achievement---quantitative or qualitative---is important to our policy work. When we engage policy makers, we should make it clear what sort of achievement we are hoping to influence, and which will remain unaffected by our efforts.) 
Qualitative and quantitative student achievement are not mutually exclusive categories; there are many examples of intermediate forms. Writing an essay is one such form.  While assessment of a written paper can be quantified through the use of rubric, the evaluation process is messy: no rubric can adequately describe the variety of mix of thought, skills and language use that go into any essay.

Qualitative and quantitative achievement are often at odds with each other because they compete for time. In my English classes, I consider both language skills and teaming skills to be important, but spending time building teaming skills (a qualitative achievement) will not always raise reading test scores (a quantitative achievement). The tug for resources between these types of desired achievement also makes for some interesting phenomena. I teach in a Math/Science/Technology Magnet school, and most, but not all students in my senior classes have had a computer literacy class. What is fascinating is that the students break into three levels of achievement: there are those who can find their way around an operating system and type and enter functions into spreadsheets, etc.; there are those who can find their way around an operating system, but can do little more than point and click or type with two fingers and use a spreadsheet or database on a fundamental level; there are those who can do neither, a very small group. Which group scores best on standardized tests is unknown to me, but it is the middle group (which shows some qualitative achievement ability and little quantitative achievement ability) that has direct correlates in society. Just last week, Microsoft and other computer companies lobbied congress to relax laws which restrict the import of foreign software and hardware engineers into the country for employ at these companies. The problem is not people who can operate computers; computer ownership has now  penetrated into forty percent of American homes. It seems that our educational system is not producing people that possess the underlying math and graphic arts skills necessary to do the kind of work these companies now demand. The Hollywood film industry has been complaining about this same phenomenon for several years now. People can operate computers, but they can't create the graphic content. They have no art sense. 

Should those students in my class have spent the time they used to learn computer skills to instead study more quantitative type skills? I don't think so. That computer technology has not done well in building the "quantitative" skills arena denies the fact that learning computer skills in and of itself is an indicator of achievement. Somehow we need to better wed quantitative content skills with technological qualitative skills.

--Ken Barker

Regarding Alex's mention of the chalkboard, I wonder what visual artists are thinking about the use of computer technology in the arts. Many kids talented in drawing are drawn to the medium, but will we lose something with all the tricks and illusions of technology or is there more to be gained? Feedback?  

--Maggie Hoyt

Berta would appreciate more feedback on the equity issues. What are your schools doing to lobby for equity? Let's not lose this most important thread.

--Maggie Hoyt

I appreciate your thoughtful comments regarding equity in access to technology. I thought my comments seemed almost invisible for lack of response.

I bring my lap top with me to science class so that sixth graders can use it in relation to their science reports. I am very excited that our Title VII dual language program focuses on science and technology for language learning. Yet, access and equity are the real limitations in public urban multi-lingual education.

My Latino students excel on my little laptop in two languages. Imagine, what they could achieve on a science computer lab. They do. 

--Berta Berritz

I have not had time to respond to the dialog on technology and equity, but the latest hits home. I have been teaching my classes in computer labs thus living the experience you have been discussing, but not having time to evaluate to see if I have information of interest for you. I have spent the past 3 days on the computer as Ken stated, "assessing the impact of technology on student achievement to think about student achievement as being either quantitative or qualitative in nature.” I have found that students who are learning by using the tools of technology have achievement in both areas. 

To complete their projects my GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) students have used many aspects of the computer. They used the word processing for note taking and report writings, research on the Internet and various CD encyclopedias., used a Computer Courses of Study, drawing and graphic programs, ... 

I have found that a good computer lab instructor is the key for a total school to have a successful program. Most teachers do not teach a full computer program on their own, for many reasons. The students who had rich computer instruction were able to set a goal and do the research. The others used the computer as a toy, surfing the net but gaining little information because they did not understand it to be a research tool and seemed to look at the pictures but not read for fine detail. The process is too much for some teachers as it is too much for some students. Some want it to be easy or they only produce during class time. Those students who benefit both quantitatively and qualitatively are the students who can focus on the work, see the parts from the  whole, like adventure, are curious, and want to be involved in their learning. 

FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT: Some students might learn from the following story: 

Between moments of dispensing wisdom, it seems that historical religious leaders had also learned software programming (after all, to win new converts, one has to keep up with the times, doesn't one?). 

Finally, a great contest was held to test their skills. After days and days of fierce competition, only two leaders remained for the last day's event: Jesus and Mohammed. The judge described the software application required for this final test, and gave the signal to start writing code. The two contestants feverishly typed away on their keyboards. Routines, classes, applets and applications flew by on their screens at incredible speeds. Windows, dialogs, and other intricate graphics began forming on their monitors.

The clock showed that the contest would soon be finished. Suddenly, a bolt of lightening flashed and the power went out. After a moment it came back on-just in time for the clock to announce that the last competition was over. The judge asked the two contestants to reveal their finished software.

Mohammed angrily said that he'd lost it all in the power outage. The judge turned to the other competitor. Jesus smiled, clicked a mouse and a dazzling application appeared on his screen. After just a few moments, the judge was clearly impressed and declared Jesus the victor. Mohammed was furious, and demanded to know why the event was not being re-done, since the power outage had interfered with it. The judge, however, disagreed by pointing out that Jesus had successfully completed the event regardless of the power loss. When pushed for his explanation of how this could possibly have been accomplished, the judge pointed out the unique characteristic that set the winner apart from all the other leaders:

Jesus saves

--Lynda Williams

Our Title VII dual language grant involves science and technology. Title VII has funded a computer lab at Brighton High School. The dual language students in Health Careers will use the computer lab along with other students. Language aquisition is a primary focus for computer use. Title VII is training teachers and providing software and technical assistance.

Your question regarding lobbying for technology is an important one. I would like to see more of the school reform money allocated to urban education go toward technology access for our students. This technology talk is live. I would like to hear about advocacy on behalf of access for urban students.  

--Berta Berritz

Berta and Peggy's comments on the equity issues are really crackling the lines. How do we get policy makers to lobby for resources that are becoming as basic as books and chalkboards in the school? Maybe the strategy becomes how to get policy makers on the listserv reading these ideas. I am hoping that we can get an article in Educational Leadership with all your comments fashioned into "testimonials" on the education and technology issues. That may be a start. Thank you for your continued responses. 

--Maggie Hoyt

Along with lobbying for more computers in urban schools, we also need to take some time to discuss where those computers should be placed and how they should be used. As an ESL teacher I am always on the lowest rung of the ladder of computer accessibility. Typing classes, math classes, science classes, and technology classes always have priority over my students and me. While there may be security issues and there certainly are control issues -- that is a small group of people wanting to control and I guess they see it as protect expensive equipment -- for teachers like me who want to use technology as an integral part of creating opportunities for student growth we need those computers in our classrooms. While I appreciate and see the value of computer labs and technology centers, we need to simultaneously weave computers into the fabric of our classrooms. If we're doing a research project, a student should have the opportunity to check a fact on the web without running around to sign up for time in the computer lab. Similarly, a student might benefit from typing part of a paper or creating a graph or chart or doing something really neat with an electronic portfolio in our class. Along with getting more computers for schools, I'd like to see us make them more accessible for students.  

--Peter Dillon

I agree with Peter. I think it is important to plan ahead. I have a mini-computer lab in my room. In the school there are five rooms like mine with 5 computers. They were installed in September with a half day training. We haven't seen anybody since and each of us has struggled to teach ourselves. Well yesterday we weedled an hour of professional  development time from the principal and we got together to share our knowledge. We should be given formal training, but in the long run this may turn out to be better. The five were pleased to see they could teach each other something. We now have the five computers in each room linked to each other and have a promise of hooking the computers to the phones in our rooms. We have agreed to get everybody's list serve going and to try to get up a school web site. We now need to connect all the rooms and to get an outside line. We also have a promise of time for the next professional  development day. Small step but could help to move things. If anybody out there knows about an office in the board of ed where we can take a disk of a web site and have it hosted let me know thanks. It is really kind of crazy to have all this equipment and little or no training.

--Joe Rafter

I am constantly stupified by how many resources seemingly go to waste while we in schools complain that we are lacking resources...To whit - there are several computer labs in Clinton, as well as a fully operational distance learning center - and all are desperately under-utilized.

Finally, the English department decided to be proactive, and they requested of the Teacher Center, that I teach them how to use the IBM computers which occupy a brand new lab in their region.

Now, once a week, I teach ten teachers from a dept of 40,. basic word processing skills. The hope is they will begin to sign up to use the lab with students, but that they themselves will begin to use the ease a computer brings with more frequency and confidence.

We shall see...

--Rachel Dahill-Fuchel

Ok, it's my turn to say something about kindergartners and computers. At my school, kindergartners are usually at the end of the receiving line, so, I have an old Apple IIC, my personal old Apple IIE, and the use of an old obsolete Panasonic computer borrowed from a parent for the k's to use during their center time. I have some old skill disks in math and language arts that they can boot up. Most of my students have computers at home so they are familiar and comfortable at the keyboards. After much waiting, we are finally receiving a new Macintosh computer with primary CDs. Now, all the k's will want to be on it and that is where I have concerns. I'm wondering if students at this early age may be spending too much time in front of an interactive screen and not enough time playing with their peers. Social skills are a big thing with me and I have a few students who are fairly sophisticated on the computer (from home) and who lack the skills to interact with their peers. I guess this is like the TV thing when some of us were growing up. But computers are so much more powerful! What do you think?  

--Diana Taga

As a Pre-K teacher, I, like Diana, also have serious concerns about the use of computers in the education of young children. Besides the social development argument, there is also a cognitive aspect of this concern. Young children learn best through play and the manipulation of real objects, they are not yet able to learn abstractly. Although I believe that computers are a necessary tool for their future learning and lives, I wonder if, at this stage in their development, my children can learn better through computer use or through experiencing true interaction with other humans and objects. I tend to believe the latter, with reliance on my knowledge of child development and behavior (and extensive observation of students.)  

Anyway, on the other hand, I see the potential for computers as a motivating tool. Even very young children are excited by the things they are able to create in new ways by using computers. They are excited by being able to write using the keyboard, even if they are unable to yet form the letters by hand. I see this as a positive if children still also have many opportunities to develop those skills.  

However, there is still a dearth of truly innovative, imaginative, and interactive, early childhood software. It's certainly improving, but I think we've got a long while to go before interacting with a computer has more impact on a young child's learning than interacting with other children or a caring adult. 

--Judi Fenton

I share your concerns Diana, although I'm know K expert.

--Lexi McGill

I would like to join the discussion and share some of my thoughts and experience with regard to teachers and technology.(This is not really in sequence with the conversation, but here goes anyway) I am currently a Project S.C.O.R.E. (Schools of California On-line Resources for Education) fellow. The mission of this institute is to pull together Internet resources and teacher authored, problem based, learning activities centered around the Internet. Additionally Project SCORE fellows are expected to in-service teachers on how to implement technology into their teaching. I, and my colleague, Harvey Green, will be teaching a twelve hour course this month on how to design lessons around the Internet. 

I am in complete agreement with those who support staff development training on how to incorporate technology into teaching. Far too many teachers are still way behind the learning curve for technology. A lot of money is being spent on hardware and software, but not nearly enough on training teachers how to master the complexities of the machines and, more importantly, how to use technology to improve student learning. 

As I see it, in spite of how rapidly technology is evolving, it's ability to impact teaching and learning will come about more slowly. I base this opinion upon what may be an unwarranted assumption derived from what I have seen at my own school site. We have been "wired up" for about four years now, and gradually more and more teachers are finding ways make technology work for them and for their students. However, there are still those teachers who are intimidated by technology or who have some philosophical opposition to it.

I worry sometimes that we expect results too quickly. When improvements in student learning, as measured by standardized tests, do not immediately materialize, technology will be blamed as a failure. Critics will say that the expenditures on technology are an outrageous waste of money. I maintain, that over the long haul, technology will improve student learning both in ways which can be assessed by standardized exams and in ways which can't.

--Jerry Swanitz

Lexi, Thanks for your great comments. Sorry to respond late, but your comment about TV struck a learning strand in my curriculum. As a teacher of television production in the high school, I believe that although television has not lived up to particularly high standards of quality programming, it is presently on the cutting line of becoming a richer medium of information, entertainment as well as a public forum in its interactive infancy. The potential is there and we investigate how to make that happen.  The twisted pairs of telephone lines will bring a variety of television services including network, local access, satellite, cable, pay per view and Internet technologies. As we read the current news, there will be more "nothing" options than ever and more channels to see nothing, but the interactive aspect of the venture puts us all more in the driver's seat. After all a television monitor/receiver is merely the medium. The potential for the message begins to float into infinity. One may opt for more conventional, familiar programming or surf the channels and cyberspace all at once. Too didactic? but gee don't we have to take some responsibility for demanding something better?

It isn't the medium's fault. The decline in television quality programming begs one to follow the money. It seems to be symptomatic of a more general societal fascination with superficial and material. The Junk is out there, just like on the Internet. How to we become sophisticated users. To me, that's the real issue. This is starting to sound a little prosaic ...


--Maggie Hoyt

Dear Ken and Lynda, Your discussions on the issues, frustrations and insights of quantitative and qualitative learning as they relate to the benefits or drawbacks of computer technology, you are both so lucid in your presentations, I think all of us are struggling with these issues.

Thank you for your clarity! Anymore thoughts out there NTPI'ers?

--Maggie Hoyt 

Peter, Joe, Rachel, etal, Happy to hear from NY on the computer placement in the classrooms debate and how equipment is being utilized.  Peter, you raise the big debate that was burning in Boston. In fact now the consensus is that only classroom teachers are receiving the grants that are bringing computers into the schools. Pioneer teachers like myself receive a stipend, a budget for materials and four computers in the classroom in exchange for demonstrating our curriculum development to 5 other teachers. Those adapters must demonstrate some use of technology and be ready to implement curriculum development when they too will receive 4 computers in their classroom next fall. 

So we are growing exponentially. All is still new, but you make the perfect point that if there is not widespread dissemination into the hands of the classroom teachers, it isn't going to work. But moreover, you cannot pass out computers and leave people unprepared to utilize them in the instruction.  

Joe I wish had your answer. I hope someone is out there to the rescue. We need to learn how to use not only the shortcuts and blue highways, but the main roads. Otherwise the computers just function like toys or babysitters.  

Rachel's training sessions are absolutely critical. 

Other models or thoughts? Lynda talks about the ideal computer lab  instructor, but what else can be done?  

--Maggie Hoyt

Maggie, thank you for doing such a terrific job moderating a discussion about this critical issue! I'd like to add another question to the already-rich mix: what are people's thoughts about pre-service technology education? While we all seem to agree that continuing professional development is essential if teachers are to authentically incorporate technology into their classes, I am concerned about the lack of initiative that pre-service education programs are exerting in this arena (that is, if Harvard is any indicator of the national norm.) For example, while there is a Technology and Education concentration at  the Ed School (i.e. for PhD students), the pre-service teachers receive no specific technology training. What a waste, when if such training was "front-ended," and appropriately incorporated into initial training, incoming teachers could utilize technology immediately, rather than having to re-acculturate down the road. Technology can be used in wonderful ways with students and also to ease administrative responsibilities--for example, yesterday a friend told me about a software package he uses to record daily attendance and grades for the 125 students he comes in contact with each day. Imagine how helpful knowledge of programs such as this could be in saving the sanity and improving the organizational effectiveness of incoming educators!  Considering that 2 million new teachers will be entering our classrooms over the next decade, providing them with advance technology training would seemingly offer an enormous opportunity to impact the next generation of teachers. 

So, my more focused questions are: What kind of pre-service technology training is appropriate and necessary? Are people aware of pre-service programs that are effectively undertaking these preparation efforts and if so, where and how? What role might cyber-savvy students play in these arrangements? 

--Sanda Balaban


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