Towards a National, Human, Educational Technology Harmony

Article excerpt

Our nation needs educational technology symphonies. They should be so grand that they can provide beautiful harmonies between all people within our educational systems, through the range of instruments provided by ever more awesome educational technologies. They could and should harmonize, through their design, projections of a future that allows for stunning gains across the various ranges of educational services provided by our schools. Within their scores, they should provide for the long-term remediation and restructuring sought by so many for our institutions.

The alliteration above speaks to the concerns expressed over the last decades by commissions for excellence in education; by the Presidents of the United States and candidates for that office; by the governors of all 50 states; by task forces on school reform; and by regents, legislators, teachers, parents, students and employers. Funding addressing these concerns has been increased, after adjustment for inflation, by 30%, and recent public opinion polls have supported such increases.

Yet, with the exception of some gains by minorities in reading and writing, overall test score improvements have been small. We need new capacities for our schools, springing from educational systems that are designed to gain the benefits of emerging educational technologies.

* Symphony of Promise

There is so much new educational technology here or on the horizon. Increasingly, engineers and scientists turn to computer graphics for "scientific visualizations" of complex phenomena. Powerful graphic workstations, coupled to their specific graphic libraries, are available now and will soon be improved with additional computational capacities and industry standardized, workstation-interchangeable graphics software. Newer PCs and workstations will blur the lines between them.

Pen-based computers will augment datainput capacities and supplement the mouse, tablet and keyboard. Palmtops will become commonplace. Multimedia technologies will boost personal computer and workstation usage. RISC (reduced instruction-set computer) will be available in personal computers as well as workstations.

Speech recognition will continue to grow and telecomputer video applications will mushroom. Simpler software integrations will continue to develop in all facets of telecommunications, with attention to ISDN on intelligent networks. Soon, the capacity to add or modify telecommunication services quickly and easily will allow users to personalize the telephonic services and applications they use. Neural networks, artificial intelligence and expert systems, together with fuzzy logic, will provide new applications for the 21st-century student.

Computer and design experiences will permeate all levels of education in time, from K-12 and throughout all of higher education. More interdisciplinary courses will come into favor. Additional emphases on computer-aided instruction, on gaming, on laboratory and/or situational simulations--coupled to extended distance education provided over video-capable communication links to varied geographical corporate, governmental, educational and/or home locales--will be hallmarks in the immediate future. Presentational communications, the use of all facets of educational technology coupled to the requisite skills of reading and writing, will become a curriculum foundation.

* State's Role as Conductor

The State Education Departments of our nation recognize that technology can help the students they oversee to learn in a variety of new ways, using technologies already existing and many still to be developed. Most states have Bureaus of Technology Applications, or an equivalent, to provide their constituencies with information relating to a wide range of educational technology applications, services and programs. Their thrusts are: to improve the quality and effectiveness of instructional support systems; to make available specific technology programs and services designed to improve student educational performance; and to provide flameworks for new interactive learning environments that go beyond the capacities of local geography or the capabilities of a single teacher. …