Report to the President on the Use of Technology to Strengthen K-12 Education in the United States

Article excerpt

President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology Panel on Educational Technology, Executive Office of the President, March, 1997, $-no charge

This report describes the findings of the President's committee of advisors on science and technology. Within the report, a study of the issues on the effects of technology on the educational process and the progress to incorporate technology in the classroom is detailed and discussed. The conclusions of the commission and panel are succinct and to the point and the problems of incorporating, on a large scale, technology into the classrooms in the United States is considered.

The following topics are covered: The significance of technology in the classroom; hardware and infrastructure; software, content and pedagogy; needs of teachers; economic considerations; equitable access; research and evaluation; and programs and policy.

Each of the points are discussed in full with numerous citations dealing with the subject matter. The layout of the topics is orderly and each topic builds on the one before it. There are numerous referrals to previous studies done in the area of educational research and these studies aid the reader in making sense chronologically, of what has taken place in these areas.

The executive summary does an admirable job in setting up the report. It is well thought out and presents the main recommendations of the committee without being wordy or overpowering. The introduction explains how and why the report was done and gives justification as to why the report was written.

Chapter two focuses on the problems facing education and the role that technology can play in overcoming those problems. A number of references are made to schools around the country and the successes they are having using technology. These references allow the reader to see the successes attained with the utilization of technology in education.

Chapter three deals with the hardware/infrastructure of today's schools. Numerous statistics are used to show the problems in setting up a viable infrastructure in schools that, all too often, are too old to support the electrical and wiring needs of modern computer networks. The costs of maintaining systems and the problems in effective utilization of those systems is also addressed.

Chapter four addresses software issues, how software is used today, and the problems with the educational software industry. Some key points are made in comparing computer assisted instruction (CAI) and the constructivist model of educating children. A good bit of this chapter talks about current technology usage and the problems that the educational software industry is having to produce quality educational software. This chapter deserves some careful reading, especially by those involved in staff development and software purchasing.

Chapter five deals with teachers and teacher training. This chapter, in my opinion, is the most important chapter done in the report. It details what teachers need, how support of the teacher's needs are being met and how they should be met, and the problems of preparing teachers and future teachers to meet the technological needs of today's students. If there is a chapter that made me sit up and take notice, this was it. Teachers need to know how to utilize the technology with which they've been provided in a classroom setting, not just how to use a computer. …

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