Teacher training vital for technology in classrooms

Technology training and development for teachers is the next step in successfully integrating technology into the nation's classrooms, education experts told a congressional panel on Wednesday.

The nation's schools increasingly are better equipped with computers and Internet connections, but most teachers are not properly trained nor comfortable enough with technology to completely integrate into their curricula, witnesses told a joint hearing of the subcommittees on Technology and on Basic Research of the House of Representatives' Committee on Science.

Chairwoman Constance Morella (R-Md.) called the teachers "the key" to incorporating technology into the nation's classrooms but cited a recent report from the CEO Forum on Education and Technology that "found only 20 percent of full-time public school teachers felt prepared to integrate technology in the classroom."

Morella also questioned the reaction of teachers and school administrators to national accreditation standards suggested by the CEO Forum, a business/education partnership that aims to integrate technology into schools and other organizations.

"They have been very receptive," said Alan Spoon, president of the Washington Post Co. and co-chair of the CEO Forum. "But there is still an absence of resources and no accountability...We need to set goals to be measured by." Approximately one-third of teaching college graduates nationwide received degrees from schools that have not signed on to national technology accreditation standards, Spoon added.

James Fallon, superintendent of schools in East Hartford, Conn., said his district has asked all teachers to evaluate their own technology skills by Nov. 1, then to take an assessment test to determine their level of knowledge. Working with a private partner, the district will provide teachers at all levels with classes to improve their technology skills.

"We have no choice anymore," Fallon said. "Our responsibility is to take the courses and be computer literate."

Spoon called on the federal government to create "professional peer pressure" in education to determine "where the cutting edge is." He likened integrating technology into the classroom to preparing a meal in the kitchen. "We've put the food, condiments and pots and pans on the table...now we need to teach ourselves to be the cooks of savory meals."

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