Tech in curriculum still evolving

CyberEducation 2002

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Although most K-12 students have access to computers and the Internet in

public schools, just how well those tools are being used is unknown, according

to a nationwide report released Jan. 15.

In 2001, 94 percent of schools were connected to the Internet and the

ratio of students per computer with Internet access was 7-to-1, an improvement

from 1998 when the ratio was 20-to-1, according to "CyberEducation 2002,"

the latest in a series of such reports by AeA (www.aeanet.org), a high-tech

industry association, and co-sponsored by the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc.

However, William Archey, president and chief executive officer of AeA,

said the issue isn't computer and Internet access anymore, but how technology

is incorporated in the curriculum. "It's still evolving," he said. "It still

has a long way to go."

The report said that in 2000, 27 percent of teachers felt very well

prepared to use computers and the Internet for instruction, up 7 percent

from 1998; and 39 percent felt moderately prepared, up 2 percent from 1998.

Twenty-six states require technology training for an initial teacher

license, but only three mandate that teachers take a technology test to

obtain it. North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia test students

on technology, but only North Carolina requires students to take tests on

computer literacy before they graduate, Archey said.

Michaela Platzer, AeA vice president for research and policy analysis,

said there are U.S. Education Department studies looking at technology usage

in schools, but it's too early to draw conclusions. Nationwide, she said

technology integration into the curriculum is sporadic and usually comes

from a teacher's initiative rather than a school or district.

She said it's a lot to expect for teachers to learn to use the tools

for instruction when they are burdened with many other duties. Another issue

is that older teachers may not be as technologically proficient or eager

to incorporate computers and the Internet into the classroom.

Platzer said the private sector could offer technology training classes

to teachers or provide sabbaticals to their employees to teach in schools.

But vision and leadership has to come from all over, she added.

The report provided a state-by-state analysis of technology access in

schools; achievement scores in math, science, reading and writing; and performance

standards for students and teachers. AeA officials said the report is meant

to provide a benchmark for states particularly in science and math proficiency.

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