The Educational Technology Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education started in October of 1983 with a mandate to explore the ways in which the new information technologies could be used to help improve the learning and teaching of mathematics, science, and computing at the primary and secondary levels. In responding to the challenge of this mandate, we decided that the best use we could make of the human resources available to us would be to focus our efforts on exploring the capabilities and the potential of the technologies that are now, or were very soon to be, available in schools.
After two years, the Center was well established, had acquired a certain degree of momentum, and had fashioned a research style of working collaboratively with practitioners. It was by then clear that our research activities would contribute in a serious way to the ongoing public discourse on computers in education. On the other hand, it was also clear that because the focus of our activities was on present-day schools with present-day teachers, we were not going to be in a position to have much to say about the likely influence of technology on the long-term direction and shape of education in this country.
Although we recognized that time and resource limitations would prohibit our giving adequate attention to this issue ourselves, we believed that we could make a contribution by convening a panel of thoughtful people from various corners of the education community to think, talk, and write about these matters.
It was clear from the beginning that the success of this effort would depend on the choice of both chair and staff for the panel. Happily, Raymond S. Nickerson of BBN Uboratories, Inc. agreed to serve as chair, and Philip P. Zodhiates