Assisting Educators on the Use of Technology. (Editorial)

Article excerpt

Increasingly, educators are adopting business methods and processes. They have increased their overall efficiency, use business process management software to automate routine business procedures, and integrate new technologies into teaching and learning. Educational institutions must now be involved in activities that result in significant financial and academic improvements, as well as increase user satisfaction. The number of activities designed to assist educators in keeping up with new technology and its implementation is growing. These activities include:

1. Alliances and collaborative activities on the local, national and global level. For example, the NY Talks Initiative is expected to involve 70 percent of New York state's 7,200 school principals and superintendents in an effort to improve the use of technology in classroom learning and administration. Each participant will be provided with a free PDA containing specialized school management software. Training opportunities will be available as well. This activity is sponsored through a $7.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Information technology companies are to deliver a series of white papers to the White House stating some of their best practices as an aid to provide e-government solutions to federal, state and local governments. This endeavor is the result of an appeal from President Bush's administration to state governments and the private sector, asking for help in implementing better use of technology over the next two years. The Office of Management and Budget has launched an e-learning initiative to create a governmentwide repository of e-learning courses using the Internet and intranets, audio and video technology, satellite broadcasts, interactive television, and CD-ROMs.

South Dakota is launching what is noted to be the first statewide program to let parents and students access grades, attendance records, test scores, course registration information, etc. over the Web. Parents, teachers and students worked together to develop this system.

The Association of Research Libraries has announced the Scholars Portal Project, a software tool for the academic community, which is expected to be a single point of access on the Web for high-quality information resources.

In addition, an alliance is working on a national system for community college faculty to include a systematic nationwide plan for community and technical college faculty development in the field of information technology. This alliance includes the American Association of Community Colleges, Bellevue Community College's National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies and Microsoft Corp.

2. Partnerships, alliances, mergers and acquisitions. These seem to be happening at a fast pace, and they recognize the importance of training users on the implementation of new and acquired products. The user's needs are recognized, and ongoing training is frequently stated.

3. Use of mentoring. Mentoring has been in existence since ancient times to help people learn from the "master." Currently, companies such as DuPont, AT&T, Microsoft and IBM, as well as professional societies, are sponsoring structural mentoring programs. Mentoring plays a key role in introducing a potential engineer to the profession. MentorNet (www.mentornet.net) is designed to help women in engineering and science facilitate their entry and advancement in scientific and technical careers.

Mentoring in education is not as widespread as in other areas. However, in the use of technology, teachers have student mentors. Such programs have proved to be very successful in both teaching other students and assisting teachers. At Park East High School in East Harlem, N.Y., the students run the help desk, install software, prepare and update computers throughout the school, and help the school's faculty integrate technology into their classroom activities. …