federal funding for educational technology, U.S. The elementary through high schools have become much more IT sophisticated in the past five years.
Yet, the transformation has been much slower than was expected. This is due to a number of issues including budget, available college ET curricula for student teachers, deficient in-school technical training for teachers, and the instructors’ resistance to introducing IT into the classroom for a variety of reasons from lack of knowledge to resistance to change. A number of new technologies are either presently offered or being developed and ready to launch within the decade. The schools’ introduction of these advancements will doubtless vary again on such factors as noted above. However, it is essential that today’s teachers be prepared to incorporate this technology into their classrooms. Otherwise they will quickly fall behind in the IT field that is so quickly changing.
Since most schools have computers for the students to use one-on-one, software use is and will continue to be expanded. (PDAs are being used more often for those schools that cannot afford laptops or the necessary number of computer stations for their classrooms.) Students will be expected to know word processing, as well as spread sheets, Power Point and other office tools. Computer graphics as well as layout and web/print design is already used in art courses and extracurricular activities like newspaper and yearbook, and students are using it more often in the classroom projects. Video, sound and animation are also becoming more popular, as is interactive hypermedia.
The computer/Internet’s first use has been as a research tool. However, that utilization will expand considerably in the next several years. In science, microcomputer-based laboratories (MBLs) are helping students better understand line graphs and to reduce the frequency of misinterpretations as well as to use the computer for conducting a broad range of scientific experiments. Computers already help in computation for science, mathematics and engineering computation. In coming years, students will be able to advance more into 3-D modeling as will be the continuation of the writing of programs. Information technology is becoming a perfect tool for language acquisition, because of the audiovisual component. The arts, as well as sciences, are furthered with IT. Computers can be used to listen to, compose and analyze music; read books and teach reading and writing; document the dynamics of dance; playback real-time dance movements for notations and editing and choreograph.
The computer is also helping the disabled learn more effectively and quickly, with programs specifically developed for the physically, visual and hearing impaired being acquired by school systems in addition to assistive devices for classroom use as directional microphones.
E-mail is almost as natural as breathing today. In the next three to five years, students will team together via desktop conferencing and groupware. Some distance learning language or other special instructional classes will also be viewed over the web and projected onto classroom TV monitors or individual laptops. Students are already teleconferencing real-time worldwide through the Internet with other classrooms, in addition to professionals and specialists in specific areas.
Another decade or so in the future, students will use information technology as learning devices through infrastructures such as knowledge webs, virtual communities, and shared synthetic environments with sensory immersion. The Internet will be used as a tutoring tool, online courses and virtual reality simulations. While on school trips students’ PDAs will access the Internet and school servers through wireless technology.
As always, however, the use of information technology will only be as productive and useful as it is effectively incorporated into the curricula. It will be a never-ending process of learning for teachers as myself to make sure that new technology is understood and being utilized as a tool to instruction and enjoyment not just as a useless adjunct because the equipment is accessible. Universities will need to thoroughly incorporate educational technology courses into the education degree curricula and schools will need on-going in-service methods for teachers to share ideas, acquire new information and expand their competencies.
Information Technology tools already in a large number of U.S. schools http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/it810/itaim.htm
Category of Tool
Hardware Devices faxes, voice/fax/data modems electronic day books video recorders, tape-recorders
MIDI hardware liquid crystal display panels digital scanners, laser printers digital cameras
Software and Computer Accessories computer-assisted-instruction (CAI software) simulations
CD-ROMs laserdiscs office and multimedia productivity tools
World Wide Web browsers hypertext authoring tools programming languages multimedia software and tools
Macintosh, OS/2, Windows, Unix, DOS
World Wide Web
Gopher, Veronica, Archie, file transfer protocol (FTP)sites
Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS)
Internet service providers local area network wide area network infrared communications video conferencing
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