Shine light on courses, not wiring

Government should stop using tax dollars to wire the nation's classrooms

and instead hire software developers to create online course materials,

Sun Microsystems Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Scott McNealy

proposed Thursday.

In a wide-ranging talk at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., which

touched on tax and trade policy, Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust case, and California's

power crisis, McNealy said the federal government's effort to bring technology

to students is misplaced.

Simply adding new computers won't improve student performance, McNealy said.

"That's like putting a telephone or TV in every classroom. It won't help

[students] learn" on their own, he said.

"What we need is online curricula for students so that they can go at their

own pace," McNealy said. "Online, on-demand, self-paced [course material]

is where we have to go."

McNealy said there is no need to have students with differing academic abilities

constrained by their shared grade level. Online curricula would enable students

to progress independently, he said.

McNealy founded Sun in 1982, and the company sponsors many programs that

involve primary, secondary and higher education. The company also participates

in the government-run E-Rate program that provides telecommunications and

Internet access to schools and libraries using money supplied by industry

partners.

According to Sun's Web site, the company "envisions a network-computing

model" for primary and secondary schools "in which teachers, administrators,

students and communities will have access to the tools that enable access

to information anytime, anyplace by anyone on any device."

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