"Marley was dead: to begin with." So begins "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens's classic parable in which fearsome visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future convince Scrooge to modify his miserly ways. Technology, on the other hand, is very much alive and with us. We believe its thoughtful and selective application is critical if our schools are to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Borrowing Mr. Dickens's conceit, we take you on a quick tour of "Technology that works--past, present and future."
Our visit to the past begins in 1998 when, at the direction of Congress, the U.S. Department of Education convened a panel of experts with the charge to identify exemplary and promising educational technology programs. The panel met several times over 20 months. It sought input and advice from many quarters. The panel deliberated and finally settled on six criteria for what constituted an "exemplary" ed-tech program:
* addresses significant educational issues and identifies goals and a design supported by research;
* improves pre K-12 learning;
* contributes to educational excellence for all;
* promotes organizational change;
* makes possible educational gains that cannot be achieved without the use of technology; and
* serves as a model for other educational institutions because it is sustainable, adaptable and scalable.
Based on these criteria, the panel cited two programs as exemplary. One was the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project, based on the use of technology created in California's Silicon Valley. This program infused classrooms with models of project-based learning centered on the production of multimedia communication projects such as Web sites, slide shows and videos.
Students learned core content through collaborative group work to design and create multimedia products in their language arts, foreign language, science, math and elective classes.
Evaluation of this program found that the longer teachers were involved in Challenge 2000, the more likely they were to involve their students in sustained inquiry, long-term projects and collaborative work. Also, students in the project outperformed their peers in key communication skills such as appropriate content, design and attention to audience.
The other exemplary program identified by the expert panel was Generation www.Y--now known as …