In T.H.E. Journal's November/December 1978 "Editorial," I discussed a report on "Computers and the Learning Society," which was submitted by the Honorable James A. Scheuer, former chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Scientific Planning, Analysis and Cooperation, to the Honorable Olin E. Teague, former chairman of the House of Representative's Committee on Science and Technology. The report stated: "Research on computer technology is critical. Judicious uses of computer technology supported by adequate organizational and managerial techniques can be injected into the educational system, and if implemented, will make significant improvements in teacher effectiveness and student learning." We've heard similar comments repeated during the years and have seen many changes.
Teaching and learning have changed as the use of technology becomes more prevalent. A number of forces have contributed to these changes, including the resolution of inequalities in education through programs such as E-Rate, a successful program of which many educational institutions have taken advantage. Unfortunately, the Schools and Library Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co. reported to the Federal Communications Commission that schools and libraries seeking E-Rate discounts for funding a fifth year have requested $5.74 billion. This projected demand is more than the $2.25 billion available.
The Arizona State Legislature has established minimum standards that every school in the state must meet by June 2003. Each classroom will have high-speed Internet access with content filtering for safety. In addition, every student will have an e-mail address and every teacher will have a Web site. After purchasing about 36,000 computers for $44.2 million, the next steps are to connect all the computers in each building on a LAN, connect the schools in each district on a WAN, and link the WAN to the Internet over a broadband connection. Free access for students and teachers will be available at school and home at any time.
Experimenting With Technologies
Wireless technology has expanded. A Quality Education Data survey shows that wireless technology is used in almost a third of U.S. schools and represents a new way for school computing. Wireless is said to be a more flexible, cost-effective way of providing technological services. For instance, the University of California, San Diego has provided a "CyberShuttle," which enables students and faculty to use the school's wireless LAN to surf the Web, send e-mail, etc.
Also, broadband networks are continuing to grow, although high-bandwidth initiatives such as Internet2 have not lived up to their full potential. However, schools are preparing for broadband networks. For example, New Orleans Public Schools is planning to interconnect its 146 school sites for voice, video and data over two high-bandwidth networks. This will allow more than 72,000 students and 10,000 educators to utilize this network at a cost of $20 million over a three-year period.
According to the International Data Corp., e-learning will overtake classroom-based instruction as the primary method by 2004.
In the past few years, 70 percent of American universities have put at least one course online, and this number is predicted to grow to 90 percent by 2005. The range of fields is large, and though most courses are in business and technology, courses in engineering, psychology, education, etc. are growing. In addition, many online courses are now involving more than one institution to service students around the world, such as the University of the Arctic--a co-operating network of universities, colleges and other organizations concerned with higher education and research--now in its pilot phase.
The following chart shows the virtual courses offered in the United States:
Virtual Courses Offered in the United States
Regular core or elective
high school courses 90. …