Magazine article Multimedia Schools

Navigating the Online Education Community: Using Web Technologies for Maximum Success

Magazine article Multimedia Schools

Navigating the Online Education Community: Using Web Technologies for Maximum Success

Article excerpt

HOW CAN WE BEST LEVERAGE THE POWER OF THE WEB TO HELP OUR STUDENTS AND DISTRICTS SUCCEED? As more and more applications and services hit the marketplace, the technologies that educators need to evaluate for their schools and districts becomes more complex.

There are emerging trends in what Internet technology has to offer in response to K-12 educational needs:

* Content resource: The Web is arguably the most rich and versatile communications medium ever, providing instant, on-site access to primary resource data from around the world. Of course, there is also an abundance of inaccurate information, but it is up to teachers, librarians, and media specialists to help students learn how to evaluate the accuracy and quality of the information they find.

* Communications medium: From e-mail to discussion groups to posting content for instantaneous distribution, the lines of communication between all participants in the education community--students, parents, teachers, and administrators--have never been so open and efficient.

* Data analysis tool: With the integration of student information and instructional management systems, technology has made it possible not just to record and process simple grade data, but also to manage student mastery of standards for accurate districtwide reporting.

So what is motivating this evolution? Many issues impact Internet use in education, but two stand out in today's environment:

1) The explosive growth in the use of the Web over the past ten years

2) The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also known as "No Child Left Behind")


So where do we stand in our ability to consider the Web as a viable educational tool? Schools and districts first need access before they can contemplate implementing new Web-enabled solutions. Looking at the statistics can tell us much about the evolving use of technology in K-12 education, particularly the increased computer and Internet use in the classroom.

The number of students per instructional computer is dropping. (Source: Market Data Retrieval, Public School Findings, 2002) The day may not be far off when the ratio of computers to students will be one to one and the computer will serve as the center of a student's activity throughout the entire school day.

The number of students per networked computer is dropping, down from 5.6 in 2001 to 4.9 in 2002. (Source: Market Data Retrieval, Technology in Education, 2002) As the latest technologies used in education become more networked, this trend also indicates a move toward an online education community, where each student will be able to access the full complement of community services from any computer, anywhere.

As of 2002, 86 percent of U.S. public schools have Internet access from one or more classrooms (up firm 58 percent in 1997). Seventy two percent of those schools connect via a T1, T3, digital satellite, or cable modem. (Source: Education Week, "Technology Counts," 2002) In just a few short years, almost 90 percent of our nation's schools have realized the possibilities that Web access brings to the school building as evidenced by this relatively quick penetration of high-speed connections.

Thirty percent of all children used the Internet at home in 2000, compared with just 19 percent in 1998. Further, nearly 21 percent of children aged 3-17 use the Web for "school research or courses." (Source: "Home Computers and Internet Use in the United States," U.S. Census Bureau, August 2000)

Where do we stand in terms of the functionality and applications available to educators to leverage these opportunities? At the leading edge of comprehensive education management is Concert Instruction & Assessment (or "Concert IA") from Pearson Digital Learning. Concert IA provides a better way to achieve the goals of education. …

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