Microcomputers in Schools:
A Case Study*
The implementation perspective is valuable for examining specific innovations and policies. One of the more central innovations in the past few yean has been microcomputers in the classroom. It is both a policy phenomenon (in the sense that school districts and states/provinces advocate/require the use of new technologies) and an innovation problem (in the sense that various groups are genuinely attempting to implement more effective uses of microcomputers).
In this chapter, I take as a case study the large-scale attempt in Ontario, Canada to implement the widespread use of microcomputers in classrooms and schools. This case is particularly illustrative of the implementation perspective as it applies to the factors and processes involved in putting into practice a major new policy.
Implementing microcomputers in schools contains all that is fascinating in educational change: intuitive attraction and great uncertainty; excitement and hardship; enthusiasm and exhaustion; visibility and high public interest combined with unknown results. Ontario's expectations and approach to implementing new educational technologies (NET) in schools ups the stakes involved. + Sponsoring the development of its own microcomputer, funding the development of software geared to official curriculum goals and policy, focusing on the integration of computers into the total learning experiences of students: Ontario's approach is comprehensive. The technical accomplishments are considerable, but the knowledge and skill demands on teachers are huge. NET in Ontario is an ambitious innovation. The task is sizeable and multifaceted. While there is strong 'front-end' financial support in launching NET, there is at this point a great need to build a knowledge-based strategy focusing on the 'up-close' realities of using microcomputers in everyday classrooms.
The current focus of implementation in Ontario is to assist teachers in
* This chapter has been adapted from Fullan et al. (1988).
†We use the terms microcomputers and NET interchangeably.