[ This material captured from a listserve exploring integrated education offers a defense of investments in educational technology by a teacher nationally recognized for her technology-based teaching. ]

"Please excuse the length of this message, but it so eloquently answered the question of what to say to technology detractors that I had to pass it on."

Laura Bashlor
Shumate Middle School
Gibraltar, Michigan

The Call to Action: Did You Hear It?

Compiled by
Bonnie Bracey
The McGuffey Project
888 17 Street NW
Washington,DC 20006

(NIITEACH subscription and archive information available at the end of this message.)

Teaching is the only major profession that requires inexperienced rookies, from Day One, to tackle exactly the same workload and responsibilities as 20-year veterans -- without any special assistance or mentoring. Indeed, this same professional neglect confronts more experienced teachers, too. In most school districts, management's idea of professional development -- the so-called "inservice" workshop tacked on at the end of a long day of teaching -- is a disservice.

So how do teachers get trained? Remember, we are NOT talking about technology. When technology is a part of the fabric, we have other problems -- access, professional training, professional acceptance from administrators and supervisors, the understanding of the community, and involvement of parents and other responsible adults in the community. Here are some comments from a variety of people from those groups.


Ask the teachers. A survey involving the National Foundation of Education teachers is found at http://www.nfie.org entitled "Teachers Take Charge of Their Learning." Here are some of their other findings, from an Issue Brief compiled by the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE).

"Technology offers exciting possibilities for expanding education and challenges for traditional curriculum design. Instead of learning math, reading, writing and science as distinct subjects, students are learning to use all these subjects simultaneously while engaged in projects that relate to real life. Based on an analysis by teachers exploring the potential of technology to support student learning and how it affects current and future curriculum, teachers identified that:

"Technology puts vast amounts of knowledge at students' fingertips. Data bases on every subject imaginable are made available for study in all curriculum areas. Encyclopedias and complete collections of literary works on compact disk and telecommunication satellite links expand the walls of classrooms into the world.

"Technology allows for greater breadth of study. Using technology, students can be exposed to a wide range of subjects that enables them to master ideas and skills necessary to become competent learners. Throughout a school year a student, with guidance, can cover a wide breadth of information and begin to see relationships between seemingly unrelated subjects.

"Technology offers students a chance to delve deeply into subjects. Greater accessibility to information gives students the opportunity to gather data easily and analyze and synthesize it in new ways. Students can manipulate data to identify those portions that are relevant to their needs. They can integrate data from one subject area to another and use the information to enhance their understanding.

"Technology provides a mode for developing higher-order thinking skills and problem solving that should be reflected in the curriculum design. Using technology, students can organize facts to define and solve problems or access data bases on a range of public policy issues such as welfare, employment or education to pose and address important questions.

"Technology compels that curriculum be more flexible. Technology provides teachers a tool to create their own teaching materials, to go beyond required textbooks and use alternate resources, and to reorganize information in new ways. Students can also manipulate and reorder what they learn, giving them greater control over their learning.

"Technology links curriculum with realistic experiences both inside and outside the school. Using telecommunications and computer networks, students can work together in cooperative learning situations to help solve real problems, tying their education to real-life situations and giving them invaluable learning experiences.

"Then the question is, how , and when do they get technology trained?


The Secretary of Education says, in regards to technology use,

"We would be shocked if we found out that our children's history class lacked a textbook for them to use, or an English class had decided to forego teaching a piece of great literature because they had been unable to afford copies of the book. We should feel the same indignation and shock today when we hear that a school has not been wired to the Internet, does not have computer equipment for its students to use, cannot access distance learning, or that its teachers have not received the necessary training to integrate these resources into their classrooms."


Kathy Rutkowski <kmr@chaos.com>, a parent and friend of mine, says in her NetTeachNews that the WWW is a global system...

"The World Wide Web is really a GLOBAL INFORMATION SYSTEM designed for easily sharing, transferring, publishing, and disseminating information and for supporting collaborations and interactive communications. Anyone can publish information, and anyone who is authorized to do so can read the information.

"This facilitates collaboration and optimizes communications. For example, a teacher living in Herndon, Virginia can create a project concept and publish the class activity on a web site so that teachers and students from around the world can participate in the project or its refinement.

"The Web is also very much a global community of communities. People from all kinds of professions, associations, and organizations are using the web to conduct their business, network with others, conduct research, publish ideas and creative works, learn, play, communicate and collaborate. Corporations, small businesses, schools, universities, alumni associations, non-profit organizations, churches, local, state, and national governments, and international agencies and organizations are publishing vital and interesting information about themselves and for the benefit of employees, stockholders, customers, students, teachers, and other interested persons. Many virtual communities are being created out of these web-based collaborations and communications.

"Just a few years ago a common slogan was that "The Internet Is the Revolution". Today, it would be more appropriate to declare that the "Web Is The Revolution". The Web has genuinely captured the imagination and interest of the masses and is significantly challenging many traditional paradigms of publishing, merchandizing, citizenship, work, and teaching and learning. Web economics is supporting new business and employment opportunities around the World Wide Web.


"The World Wide Web is specifically employed in education as a:

* research and information gathering tool/medium
* publication and information dissemination tool/medium
* instruction and course/subject content delivery mechanism
* learning and knowledge building environments
* distance education environment
* administration medium including tests, student records and portfolios, staff records, etc.
* internal and external communications medium
* internal and external collaboration medium
* professional development and training tool


"Educators around the world are exploring the uses of the World Wide Web as an instruction medium and tool. They and their students are using curriculum webs created by government agencies, international organizations, non-profit organizations, companies, and other educators covering a diversity of curriculum. U.S. government agencies such as NASA (http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/), the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (http://www.globe.gov/), and the Geological Survey (http://www.usgs.gov/education/) have created online projects and curriculum specifically for K-12 learners and in other agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/pubs.html) and the U.S. Department of State (http://www.state.gov/www/issues/economic/trade_reports/) have released publications and data sets in electronic form that can easily be integrated into curriculum by teachers and used by learners exploring a variety of subjects.

"The United Nations has created online curriculum for k12 students on health, urban environments, and on the UN organization (http://www.un.org/Pubs/CyberSchoolBus/menucurr.htm).

"Companies are also creating online curriculum. Genetech, a biotechnology pioneer company, have launched Access Excellence, a national education program that focuses on the professional development of biology teachers, and includes a Virtual Meeting place---the AE web site (http://www.gene.com/ae/)---wherein biology teachers can share curriculum ideas and discuss issues with scientists.

"Museums and non-profits are also providing teachers and learners with useful online curriculum and projects. The Miami Museum of Science created the Hurricane Storm Center to provide useful information about hurricanes and the instruments used to measure them, and also to provide activity ideas for educators to use in their classrooms with students.

"The Kennedy Center Education Department created ArtsEdge (http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/artsedge.html) to help artists, teachers, and students share information, resources, and ideas about arts education.

"Many individual teachers are working with their students to create their own curriculum and class webs that provide links to other online resources and also value-added material, including original research conducted by teachers and their classes. Kathy Schrock, a library media specialist at the Nathaniel H. Wixon Middle School in South Dennis, Massachusetts created the Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators website (http://www.capecod.net/Wixon/wixon.htm) which provides megalinks to curricular subject sites, online lesson plans and projects, and information on how to integrate Internet materials into curriculum. Texas educators, Kathy Mathison and Naomi Brown created the Texas Rivers Project (http://www.rice.edu/armadillo/Ftbend/rivers.html) and accompanying curriculum to be used by teachers and learners around the world in exploring river systems.

"Despite the richness of all these various curricular sources, online curriculum presents some unique challenges to educators. Historically, textbooks and other major curriculum materials have had to go through sometimes lengthy approval processes by school districts.

"New guidelines will have to be established for the use of online materials and most likely the approval process will have to be accelerated given the dynamic online publishing environment. National standards will help this process. Teachers will potentially play a much greater role in the selection and use of online curriculum than has traditionally been the case in the selection of textbooks and CD-ROMS. Nonetheless, this necessitates that teachers devote more time to research and project development..."


Larry Irving, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said:

"As a nation, we have to address the 'digital divide.' We cannot afford to allow the gap to widen between technology haves and have nots. I urge business leaders, and all of us, to look beyond our own backyards. There are a lot of schoolchildren in underserved neighborhoods whose schools do not have local champions fighting for wiring -- or the laying of cable or installation of wireless technologies -- in the schools and access to the information superhighway."


U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Democrat Member of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, said,

"America cannot leave kids from working families out of the knowledge-based economy and still hope to retain its economic standing in a fiercely competitive global environment."

Rep. Markey also said that government can help facilitate Internet accessibility by implementing the proposed E-rate (education rate) for telecommunications and information services. "In order to ensure that `learning links' truly become a universal service, I believe the `E-rate' should be free for core, basic telecommunications service," said Rep. Markey.

To meet the enormous challenges facing today's educational system, businesses, local governments, schools and parents must work together. Initiatives such as NetDay have highlighted the need for technology in the classroom and garnered increasing political, corporate and community support. I believe that NetDay is a catalyst to create the possibilites of community involvement in schools. I believe it gives the community something to work with and toward. I am sure that as in any project there are some places that work better rhan others, but the bringing together of people to solve problems, as in a electronic barnraising can at least give some community opportunities to those who want to share, participate and discuss ideas. This may be more powerful than the Netday.

Netday ideas are needed because, there are vast inequalities in schools which will continue to exist. Only 10 percent of teachers have access to the internet in their classrooms. There are no statistics on the level of access, or the permission they have to use it , or the level of their professional training.

Netday is a community wedge to open the closed door of the schools and to remove the teachers and their charge from virtual isolation in a world of chalk and talk while others fax, phone, email, relay chat, connect by satellite and share files and information using videophones and picturetel ......it also lends a helping hand to the teachers of support in the world of academia. This way teachers don't have to fight for change alone.


Ted Nellen <tnellen@mbhs.bergtraum.k12.ny.us>, in response to an article written by Larry Cuban, wrote...

"I am one of those breed of educational reformers who believes technology will help fix our educational system. It does not entail keeping up with the latest in technological advances. I stay lowend technologically speaking and do just fine.

"I am working on a doctorate in education at Teachers College. I have been named Teacher of the Year two times in NYC. I come to the table with knowledge, so my abandoning traditional is not willy-nilly. As I move into my computerized classroom, I am drawing on many years of experience. But most important is that in this new environment a whole new way of looking at teaching has to be employed. If you walk into a computer classroom and try to teach in the tradtional manner, you will fail.

"I am an English Teacher. My classroom became computerized in 1984. I teach in a public high school in NYC. Although I agree with many of the assumptions of Cuban, I do have to take exception with his points from the minority point of view. Yes to all of his points about "vast majority of teachers", however, the majority is still doing things is the same old same old fashion. No new thinking or application being considered let alone being applied. One point I have come to the conclusion is almost useless is the current way of teacher training. I had been an advocate for it, now I am not. Waste of money.

"There are teachers who wish to teach this way and can and do with very little training. They are all self-taught. The way I now do this is to have my students work with teachers who express a desire to learn about computers in the classroom. These interns have been in my classes and then serve as interns in my classes and in working with teachers. By this method I have produced more teacher users than in all the years I spent in those futile teacher training workshops after school.

"All of my students have a computer in front of them and have since 1984 in my English classes. The students who have passed through my room are from all academic levels: special ed, resource, bilingual, honors, hearing impaired. I have the most heterogeneous classes in our school. I have maintained the highest attendance rates in the school for 6 years. Our Chapter One program showed the highest average rate of increase per student (22 points) in NYC."

"Contrary to his facts on student use, we represent the opposite of everything he says: we have low income urban students who have constant access to computers and the net. It really isn't difficult, it is just requires a new mind think.

"I guess one of the major mistakes most people seem to make, and Cuban is one of them, about comparing computers with other forms of media is that it can't be done. Computers require user interaction whereas other media is presented. You can't be a couch potato on the Internet. The failure of other forms of media in the classroom has been a failure to understand how to use it. As for computers, the user is in control and the educational pedagogy of constructivism is seen at its best. So mimicking earlier forms of media is doomed to fail. One has to assume a new mind think to use computers.

"I do agree that as a reformer and a concerned educator, blaming the educator is not the answer, whereas understanding the workplace and the new environment is the key. Basically, I have ignored the critics, done an end run on the Board of Education, and essentially done it rather than sit and talk about it and, as a result, I am now entertaining the naysayers of yesterday and they have decided to use computers in the classroom. So it comes down to "Don't force the teachers to use the computers and support those who do choose and rethink educational practices".

"At least Larry Cuban has recognized that there is a hardy band of pioneers who have learned to use the computers imaginatively, and that is the key,imagination combined with good sound educational pedagogy. But too many listen to the followers of Cliff Stoll rather than enjoy the pleasures of redesigning education and reeducating the educators. I am afraid McClintock is correct when he says something to the effect that it will take a generation for reform to take place, and that is just too bad.

What happens after NetDay? How do we prepare teachers for using the technology? Is wiring the schools enough? Do kindergartners need to know how to surf the web? How can we make sure that lower income schools have the same resources, teacher training and equipment as schools in affluent neighborhoods? How does technology affect literacy?


...my number one priority for the next four years, is to ensure that all Americans have the best education in the world...Let's work together to meet these three goals: Every 8-year-old must be able to read; every 12-year-old must be able to log on to the Internet; every 18-year-old must be able to go to college, and every adult American must be able to keep on learning for a lifetime.



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