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Information Technology Project...

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 Information Technologies and Education Quality Improvement- the worlds Investment into the Future

By

Emmanuel Acheampong

Post Office Box TN 1933,

Teshie Nungua Estates

Accra Ghana

Tel: 233 + 21 + 713852

Email: firmcastro@netscape.net

INTRODUCTION

This project look at some of the successes around the world of Information Technology, offer ways of keeping abreast of the developments of Education in Information Technology and consider some of the views of the future. 

PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT

In today's world of advancing technologies, there is one question that educationalists must put above all others and that is "What are the benefits to the Learners?". Those of you who remember the World Conference on Computers in Education in 1995 will have noted the underlying theme of the event "Liberating the Learner" and if the technologies now available are not improving the learning process for the student then why are we bothering? In the 1960s when the 'Internet' first appeared and Open Universities were being planned hopes were high that students could study at home. Thirty years on can we really claim that we have 'liberated the learner' and that Open and Distance learning are really working? This session will look at some of the successes around the world, offer ways of keeping abreast of the developments and consider some of the views of the future. 

Information technology is now accepted as an integral part of education. Helping students (elementary through postsecondary) be prepared to participate in the information age is a high priority. For most jurisdictions, this involves the identification of skills to be acquired by all students; significant investments (often in partnership with the private sector) in computer hardware, software, and cabling; the professional development of teachers; and the linking of all institutions to the information highway by the end of the twentieth century.  

Information technologies are beginning to pervade all aspects of education as key learning and administrative tools. Computers and computer linkages have exploded onto the education scene. Internet, e-mail, and teleconferencing are rapidly being set up for administrators, teachers, and students in many areas. Educational walls are becoming more permeable, with students having access to teachers and information resources beyond the school and community through the power of networks and new technologies.  

THE WAY FORWARD

All new technological applications seem to start slowly and many a promoter will claim success when the new system repeats what was previous available 'before computers' albeit that it is same that is now available electronically. How many businesses can survive today by computerising their accounts without the facility of being able to analyse their progress day by day. It is important that every time we use computers we question the added value. Not to the extent that we reject what's on offer, but that we, like good teachers take it further and expect more. As with customer service in any business we must when introducing computers always: 

AIM TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS

In the last 20 years, the world have moved a long way in the ease of use - remember the overnight processing of the "main frame" and the cassette tape storage of the first Personal Computers. Today, with the mouse in our hand and the icon on the screen we are close to the stage of the student driving a virtual "exploring space-ship" down through the screen visiting site after site without any need to know whether the data is coming from their machine's hard disk, from the server in the next room, a main-frame across the city, or from the other side of the world. Being able to view on your Laptop (Samways and Byrne-Jones, 1995) the changing scene provided by a camera on another continent as it happens can certainly add a new dimension to one's study.  

IFIP Working Group 3.6 on Distance Learning

IFIP Working group 3.6 was set up as a result of the Teleteaching working conference organised by IFIP in Hungary in 1986. The group held a panel session at the European Conference on Computers in Education in 1988 in Lausanne and organised Teleteaching'90 as part of the WCCE'90 which was held in Sydney, Australia in July 1990. The international group consists of two distinct sets of members: one is the teachers, tutors and students at tertiary levels and the other consists of those at elementary and secondary level that use telecommunications. 

THE INFLUENCE OF DISTANCE LEARNING

Distance education has been profoundly influenced by technological change. Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec have developed open universities, employing audio and video tapes, television, satellites, teleconferencing, and telephone tutors. Télé-université, part of the Université du Québec, has offered diploma and certificate distance programs as well as communications degrees since 1972. Memorial University, Newfoundland, operates distance education for remote communities via satellite links and other communication media. Television Northern Canada, covering an area equal to one-third of Canada, delivers cultural, political, social, and educational programming to 100,000 native northern Canadians.  

Many challenges remain. Funding continues to be a central concern, with implementation costs compounded by the rapid obsolescence of education technologies. Designing strategies that provide students with equal access to information technologies continues to be a complex task. There is general concern that there not be technological "haves" and "have-nots" among our world's young people.  

The power of the information highway for learning is as yet untapped, with a major challenge being to ensure that there is a sufficient quantity of content available to reflect the cultural and linguistic duality of our society. There is a special need for French-language content, especially for minority French-speaking communities.  

For most educators, information technologies are both exhilarating in their possibilities and daunting in the uncertainty created by the speed of change. Through the use of these technologies, the worlds education systems will remain relevant, preparing our children for the new world in which they now live.  

HISTORY

But distance learning has had a slow beginning. As the UK's Open University was developing in the 1970s with its television and radio broadcasts so similar projects were underway in other parts of the world. But rarely were other technologies involved and citing examples of good practice of where distance learning made use of the new technologies was a difficult task. IFIP's third conference on "Teleteaching" held in Trondheim, Norway in 1993 brought together and published papers on over 100 of best examples of distance learning at that time (Davies and Samways, 1993), though the presentations clearly reflected the lack of progress at school level. This was later confirmed in the IFIP publication of 1994 on guidelines for good practice in Tele-learning" created by its Working Group on Secondary Education (Tinsley, 1994). 

Teleteaching' 93

Reported at "Teleteaching'93" was the PLUME project (Vivet et al, 1993) in France which enabled the workers at one site in Saumur to receive training from the main site 90 km. away in Le Mans was clearly a success. Although the training was mainly basic - reading, writing, arithmetic and problem solving - and required just the use of two telephone lines and 386 computers, it was simple, efficient and ran without major problems. 

The Norwegian video-telephone project (Coppock, 1993) with sign-language for the deaf at that time suffered from the limitations of the technology used. Although polite conversation was possible with a complete stranger over a distance the large number of communication breakdowns and misunderstandings soon became tiresome.

The Asia Pacific Interactive Communication Network (APICNET) developed in 1991 provided a link from Japanese schools to USA schools in order to foster greater understanding between the two countries (Kaneko, 1993). Basically, students described their own country for the benefit of the students in the other country, though the communication consisted of questions and answers. The motivation was the novelty of the media itself, and this did not last long for either the teachers or the students. 

Other noticeable successes reported at "Teleteaching'93" (Davies and Samways, 1993) included discussion between UK and German schools on the opening of the Berlin wall, poems sent from the USA on the occasion of Martin Luther King day, science tests on river water between UK and Florida schools, and temperature measurements involving schools in UK and Norway. All required teachers' time both in planning and running, an allocation of funds, access to computers and networks, and training. 

WCCE'95

It is interesting to note that by the time of the World Conference on Computers in Education in 1995 the technology had advanced. From the initial 'internet' developed in the 1960s by the American Department of Defense we now had a 'world wide web' and the 'Mosaic' browser program. However access was still restricted in terms of costs and (learning) time but projects were in progress all over the world. In fact about 40 papers on this topic were selected for presentation at WCCE'95 (Selwood et al, 1995) and these provided a teleteaching stream which ran throughout the week of the conference. 

Of particular merit was the report on the videoconferencing project in two elementary schools in Norway and Sweden (Evjemo et al, 1995). The 25 pupils in Tromsoe and the 21 pupils in Piteaa had listened to a language of a neighbouring country and were proud that they had been able to communicate with each other. For the teachers there were clearly improvements to the project that would be made on another occasion. 

The paper on ways of enhancing university science teaching from the University of Melboune, Australia (Nott et al, 1995) discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the Web. It describes the thinking at that time and the projects being initiated at the University of Melbourne. Further analysis of distance learning systems is provided by Jones and Knezek (1995) Texas, USA who conclude that distance education has the potential to change current teaching methods much like the satellite changed communications. This is further substantiated by the work at Southern Cross University, Australia (Bymes et al, 1995) where the flexibility of its Assignment Management System successfully supports the enrolment of distance learning students. It also provides a user friendly graphical user interface, a GUI (Samways and Byme Jones, 1995) for students and instructors and manages marks and grades.  

Prior to 1995 little work had been documented on computer conferencing below university level and the results of the work with 16-18 year olds in Northern Ireland (Austin, 1995) shows that there are real benefits to be gained with a well-managed project. In conclusion it shows that large numbers of students can be motivated at relatively little cost with a resulting improvement in learning. 

Teleteaching'96

IFIP Working Group 3.6 on Distance Education held its '"Teleteaching'96" conference in Canberra, Australia. One of the successful projects for school children, both elementary and secondary, was the "Buddie Project" whereby a 'cuddly toy' was taken by many international delegates to schools in the Canberra area and these were exchanged for a similar 'buddie' which was taken back to schools in the delegates' countries. Each 'buddie' was cared for by a class of pupils who recorded events in a 'diary' During the project the two schools communicated by e-mail on the internet and after a period of three months the 'buddie' was returned together with the diary and photographs etc. The project can be viewed on the internet at: 

http://owl.qut.edu.au/oz-teachernet/projects/travel-buddies/travel-buddies.html 

CURRENT THINKING

One of the latest reports is the implementation of TeleNet, a computer network for Teachers which although developed for teachers of English in Hong Kong, highlights some of the problems and some of the successes that are applicable to all educators (Ki and Lai, 1996). Another reference is the advice given by Aiken and Aditya (1997) for the effective use of technology in teleteaching. Their golden rule 'Teach unto others as you would like to be taught' and their list of the ten commandments of teleteaching provide good advice for those in undergraduate education. 

Other current distance learning projects involving WG3.6 members include the Demenet Project (Eveline Riedling) which is designed to introduce telematics to the learner. Details can be found on the internet at: http://www.ifi.ntnu.no/~kain/demenet/email/index.html 

There is also the Copernicus MAPS project in flexible and distance learning for English Language Teachers (Roumen Nokolov, Ivan Stanchev and Niki Davis). Details can be found on the internet at: http://www.ex.ac.uk/~nbirbeck/MAPS/maps.htm 

More general is the "Telematics for Teacher Training" project supported by the European Union from 1996 to 1998 (Elaine Taylor). Seven institutions from seven countries are working together to encourage the initial and on-going professional development of educators through the use of modern communications. Details on the internet at: http://www.ex.ac.uk/telematics/T3/welcome.html 

Another web page worth visiting is at: 

http://www.to.utwente.nl/user/ism/collis/home.htm 

TECHNOLOGY FOR EDUCATION: IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION

It is recognized that the above vision is far from being a reality. While it is acknowledged that information technologies are having an increasing impact on learning (how we learn, where we learn, when we learn, what learning resources we have, and how we measure our success), most educational institutions in world are only just beginning to tap into the potential uses of a broad range of information and communicative technologies as pedagogical tools used on a day-to-day basis in the classroom to teach the subjects in the curriculum.  

Lack of computers and quality software for student use is seen as a major limiting factor. While much progress has been made in making computers available to schools in the past five years, almost two-thirds of teachers in a recent survey confirmed that there are not enough computers or software in the classroom to meet their needs. With Canada as an example, four provinces and territories (Yukon, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario) report schools having an average of one computer for every 8.5 pupils or less. Six other provinces and territories report a range from 10:1 to 14:1 students for every computer. It should be noted that these figures include a number of computers that are of limited practical use for pedagogical purposes.  

With this, several jurisdictions have set targets to ensure equal access to technology. In British Columbia, for example, the goal is one computer for every three students in secondary school, and one computer for every six pupils -- or better -- in elementary schools.  

Based on the vision that education technologies should be considered as tools to improve learning, rather than as technologies to be mastered for their own sake, most jurisdictions advocate the use of technologies as tools in all areas of instruction as more important than the teaching of 'computer skills' as a separate subject.  

The following are examples of initiatives being taken to integrate technologies into the curriculum in each of the provinces and territories. Many initiatives emphasize learning outcomes for all students, and software tied to the local curriculum.  

Technology education outcomes have been developed in Newfoundland and Labrador in A Curriculum Framework for Technology Education: Living in a Technological Society. The document describes key stage curriculum outcomes for the end of grades 3, 6, 9, and 12 in five technological domains: communications, control, production, energy and power, and biotechnology. Communications and related technologies are featured significantly across the program. Work is proceeding on the development of curriculum to include technological literacy for students in the primary, elementary, and intermediate divisions, as well as additional new high school courses.  

In Nova Scotia, a draft Vision for the Use of Information Technologies Within Nova Scotian Public Schools Programs, includes technological competence in a list of essential graduation learning. Outcome statements for the use of information technologies describe what students should be able to do at graduation and at the end of grades 3, 6, 9, and 12.  

In both the Anglophone and Francophone sectors of New Brunswick, the development of learning outcomes in computer literacy for students in elementary, middle and high schools has been a priority. All students must be computer literate in order to graduate from high school. At the same time, a Strategy for the Integration of Technology in Public Education has been developed. The strategy provides a global blueprint for everything from a vision of technology in education to the electronic distribution of new curriculum.  

Quebec has several mechanisms to promote the integration of information and communication technologies in curriculum and in professional practice in the teaching and learning context. Since 1985, the province has set up a program of subsidies and joint licences for firms in the sector, a curriculum-related software evaluation program and a large software library offering more than 100 integration scenarios. A number of websites offer integration tools and innovative projects such as Le village Prologue and La console d'écriture. As well, a number of initiatives have been developed at the college level, most notably the Centre collégial de développement du matériel didactique, the magazine Clic and the Inforoute de la formation professionnelle et technique.  

In Ontario, the document Policies and Outcomes, Grades 1-9, issued in 1995, has outcomes/expectations expressed in broad terms for the end of grades 3, 6, and 9. The outcomes/expectations for information technology and computer skills are interspersed throughout the four program areas: the arts; language; mathematics, science, and technology; and personal and social studies: self and society. The Ontario Curriculum Project is currently developing grade-by-grade curriculum outcomes and it is anticipated that requirements in the area of information technology will be developed in 1998. Outcomes/expectations for grades 10 to the end of secondary school will be developed as part of secondary school reform.  

Manitoba has identified technology as one of the four foundation skills to be integrated in all curricula. A project team is currently developing a position paper on Technology as a Foundation Skill that will serve as a guiding document for the development of a technology skill continuum. Manitoba's Interdisciplinary Middle Years Multimedia Project is a four-year, four-phase research and development project designed to develop an effective instructional model that supports interdisciplinary teaching and learning through the integration of multimedia technology into the curriculum. This cost-sharing project involves the distribution of categorical grants to selected pilot schools for the implementation of a pre-selected hardware/software model. Curriculum support for the project is provided through the development of multimedia-based integrated teaching units. Twenty schools were chosen for phase 1 at the grade 5 level, each of which was responsible for piloting the thematic unit, A Prairie Tour. Phase 2 is now focussing on grade 6.  

The Curriculum/Multimedia Integration Project addresses the integration of multimedia learning resources (software, CD-ROM, videodisc, microcomputer-based labs, and the Internet) into the development and implementation of kindergarten to senior 4 basic education curriculum frameworks. The integration of multimedia is initially focussed on the senior sciences. The project objectives are the creation of a model and a process for the effective integration of multimedia with curriculum and the integration of multimedia with the Science 20S (grade 10) curriculum. A multi-year program has begun to fund the establishment of technology and science resource centers in 25 senior years schools.  

The Western CAI Mathematics Project involves the four western provinces and two territories and a business partner, the publisher Nelson Canada, in the development of curriculum-based mathematics software. The project is an example of a unique opportunity to support the Western Protocol Mathematics Curriculum Framework through a partnership that demonstrates an effective model of joint inter-governmental/business development. The aim of the software is to enhance the delivery of mathematics instruction across the jurisdictions, to provide stronger delivery of senior mathematics courses to rural and remote students while expanding the instructional use of computer technology.  

Saskatchewan's Multimedia Program provides the impetus for the development of technology-supported courses and learning resources, in collaboration with education institutions, teachers, academics, software specialists, and media producers. The fund encourages partnerships to develop courseware, support services, and training in the use of technology for instruction. 50 projects are underway in both the K-12 and postsecondary sectors, with CD-ROMs and Internet-based materials in a variety of subject areas.  

Alberta has initiated the development of interactive multimedia courseware for high school chemistry. A prototype module has been developed for piloting purposes. Future plans include development of two complete courses in collaboration with Western Protocol partners and the chemical industry. In response to the MLA Framework for Technology Integration in Education report, Alberta is identifying technology learning outcomes for integration in the curriculum and for graduation expectations. General and specific exit learner outcomes are being refined for Grades 3, 6, 9, and 12. Alberta has also signed license agreements that allow all schools to purchase education software from specific developers at a significant discount.  

In British Columbia, the Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education Plan includes information and computer technology as an integrated part of the curriculum. The Ministry of Education continues to develop previously established partnerships in the creation of resources such as a computer-assisted mathematics software with the western provinces, the territories, Industry Canada, and Nelson Canada.  

Yukon aligns technology development with curriculum-based outcomes and views technology as one of many approaches to successful knowledge, skills, and attitude attainment. Timely access to a wide range of learning resources is being provided on the YES net by having the learning resource catalogues on-line and continually updated.  

The Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment currently has a project team looking at the area of information technology across the education system as a whole. It includes working with other government departments to ensure communities have the infrastructure in place for them to be able to make use of information technology. A smaller group is developing a strategy around information technology in the school system 

CHANGING ROLES FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS

Information technologies are changing the role of students who will assume more responsibility for their learning, using inquiry, collaborative, technological and problem-solving skills, all of which are required in the global marketplace. Information technologies help build students' self-esteem, empowering and enabling them, as well as building their confidence and feelings of success.  

Technologies expand the students' access to learning, augmenting the resources and expertise available to them, and expanding services to those whose access to resources is restricted, or who are not well served by present structures. Learning becomes separated from time (schedules, hours of schooling as a measure of achievement) and place (classrooms, schools, and universities).  

New technologies will transform the classroom since they encourage fundamentally different forms of interaction among students and teachers. They engage students systematically in higher-order cognitive tasks, and prompt teachers to question old assumptions about instruction.  

Pedagogical partnerships among teachers and learners can strengthen and support curriculum program implementation. Schools, colleges, and universities are being linked with other formal learning institutions and with institutions outside the formal systems, such as museums and libraries. For example, in Yukon, the youth of the remote community of Old Crow are researching, at the Yukon Archives, the Porcupine Caribou herd. The study includes the land, the elders, and the environment. The students have designed a website to bring the cultural life of Old Crow to the world.  

Information technologies can give students immediate feedback on their progress. They allow students to test themselves, checking to see if they have mastered a new skill, or have the knowledge required moving on to other work. Such techniques teach students that they have the capacity to improve. Immediate feedback has been shown to motivate students who might otherwise have very little interest in school. Students who get into the habit of checking their own learning are self-assessing, an important skill at a time when more and more people are required to consider how well prepared they are for jobs. As students take greater responsibility for assessing themselves, the pace of learning changes and becomes more individualized. All of this may alter the way schools and learning are organized.  

The changing role of the teacher

Just as technologies change the role of students, they also change the role of teachers. But many teachers do not embrace the new technologies, and are skeptical of their application in the classroom. The fact that there is an aging teacher cohort exacerbates the problem. In the decade ahead, more than 45 per cent of the educator work force will be retiring or nearing retirement. It is therefore not surprising that in this context, many teachers have concerns about the impact of information technology. Ways must be found to ease their anxieties, assuring them that the role of the teacher is still an essential one. For students to realize the benefits of computer technologies, all teachers must be taught how to use computers and how to take full advantage of their pedagogical applications in the classroom. Without proper training, information technologies are either ignored or can be a source of frustration to teachers. Information technologies must be presented as useful tools with appropriate supporting resources, rather than an additional burden for the teacher to master.  

Teachers will still be needed, but their role will change, shifting from knowledge transmitters to guides, leaders, resources, program designers, and facilitators of learning as well as models of educated persons. As teacher roles evolve, there will be important implications for the definition of a teacher, teacher education, professional development and working conditions.  

Pre-service teacher education

In Canada, two basic models for teacher education exist: a bachelor of education degree taken over four or five years and a post-degree bachelor of education degree taken over one or two academic years. Both models are used for elementary and secondary school teacher training, and are a balance of academic and professional preparation. The professional aspect includes general and subject-specific theories of teaching and learning and practical experience in the field. Entrance to the secondary school teacher post-degree programs requires that the previous degree be a major in the subject area in which the student-teacher will specialize.  

Since the 1970s, both elementary and secondary teacher education programs have forged closer ties with universities, through the development of faculties of education. As faculties in a university setting, these institutions enjoy a large degree of independence in deciding course content and methods of delivery.  

In most jurisdictions, teacher training institutions have developed, or are in the process of developing, a list of technology competencies for all new teachers, such as "to demonstrate the ability to operate a computer system to successfully utilize software to teach the regular curriculum; to apply current instructional principles, research, and appropriate assessment practices to the use of computers and related technologies."  

In-service for teachers

A first step in the training of teachers in information technologies is to make them comfortable with computers by encouraging their use of the technologies. Lending teachers a computer and software for use at home on weekends and holidays is a practical way of giving them the opportunity, motivation, and time to gain experience as well as developing a level of comfort with the technologies. In some jurisdictions, the purchase of computers by teachers is facilitated through an employee purchase plan. Many universities and colleges now require that new students have their own computers as a condition of entry.  

The following are illustrations of initiatives being taken by individual provinces and territories to help teachers gain competencies in the pedagogical application of the new technologies.  

In Newfoundland and Labrador, regional training centers deliver information technology training to teachers. As well, the Department of Education, in collaboration with school districts and teachers, is providing appropriate in-service training to meet teacher needs in integrating technology into the curriculum. As part of its mandate, STEM~NET has provided advanced Internet training covering network management, web page construction and Internet-related curriculum leadership to nearly 20 per cent of the teachers, preparing them for lead-teacher roles in every school and school district.

In Nova Scotia, teacher professional development is provided by several divisions of the English and French Program Branches.  

In New Brunswick, as part of the U.N.I.T.E.- MER Project, approximately 2800 teachers have been trained on applications software such as Claris Works, CD-ROM, and access to the Internet. Additional training sessions have focused on using and maintaining local area networks (LANs) at the school and school district levels. The training approach aims to teach small groups of teachers who in turn will provide training to their colleagues. The program replaces experienced classroom teachers who have already integrated technology into their teaching with new computer literate university educated graduates. The experienced teachers are then available throughout the school district to provide training and in-class demonstrations to other teachers.  

DEVELOPMENTS AND THE FUTURE

In the last five years we have seen the number of Internet users expand from 10 million to 30 million and still increasing. With Web browsers being provided by Netscape and Microsoft, Pentium processors rated at over 100 Megahertz and high speed modems access has become so easy and so fast. In fact we are very close to the user not being able to distinguish between data from the PC's own CD-ROM and data from the other side of the world.  

Certainly e-mail can be used to transfer materials, tutorials and problem solving exercises along with distant interactions between teacher and learner and between learners themselves. i.e. distance learning. However it must be remembered that projects across countries usually have different aims for different participants. Sometimes it is the global involvement; sometimes the cultural perspectives. In other cases it is environmental issues or the language differences or historical aspects. Access for disabled students in their homes is an extra feature while in-service training for teachers is another option. 

As Betty Collis (1996) states in her recent book, "The future holds many exciting possibilities, as 'distance' looses its meaning and we can all benefit from excellent teachers and fellow learners and resources wherever we are and wherever they are. The key is Web-based communication and creativity, which for the first time gives us a standard. Attractive, easy-to-use way of making connections for learning and teaching". 

THE ROLE OF THE INTERNET IN TODAYS EDUCATION

This part of the project is intended to examine the use of modern technology, into the acquisition and transfer of knowledge, using resources from the World Wide Web in some elementary schools. It will also serve to determine whether this new way of accessing knowledge is a beneficial tool in aiding students to a higher level of achievement, because they are more engaged in their learning activities. The Internet has the ability to erase all geographical, languages, and time barriers so that students can continue their learning long after leaving the school grounds. Several projects will be described, including projects by people other than educators.  

In this project, I believe that the motivation generated by the use of the Internet resources will appeal to students of all ages and abilities; therefore, motivating them to get involved and increase the time and quality they need to study. Vicki Hanson (1995) in Mindshare during an IBM Corporation interview states that the Internet has the potential to drastically change the way students learn. They can take control of their own learning.  

Although there are schools that are connected to the WWW, there are few educators that are familiar with engaged learners. The resources provided by the use of the Internet are limited to the ability of the individual schools to access the information. The barriers for education improvement at this point of the century are endless.  

This project also provides an overview of the resources available on the Internet that are important to this study. Today around the globe, there are schools and classrooms where learning is happening differently than in most other schools and classrooms. There are places where students and their teachers are using networking technologies to find what few learners are capable of imagining. From talking to scientists at NASA to receiving e-mail from teachers, today students have no limit to their access of learning. Those students and teachers are exploring new frontiers of knowledge and challenging traditional notions of school. In this process, they are sowing the seeds for global learning in school.  

THE WORLD WIDE WEB

The Internet is a network of more than 30 million users worldwide. Using telephone lines and other media to transmit information from computer to computer, the Internet provides almost instantaneous communication. The web is a network of computerized information that can include text, photographs, video clips, and sound. It is available to anyone linked to the internet  

The Internet has evolved from a computer science research experiment in the early 1970's to a primary means for academic, commercial, and civic discourse. Through a computer with a network connection, one can access thousands of resources around the world -- library catalogs, campus information systems, directories, databases, and archives. Teachers and students can share information with one another electronically via e-mail, list servers, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.  

The Internet began in the late 1960's as a network of computers that the United States Department of Defense developed, using communication technology that could continue to function even when it was partially damaged. The Internet started in 1969 with four hosts: the University of California at Los Angeles, the Stanford Research Institute, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. In 1972, e-mail was invented to send mail across a distributed network. In 1973 transatlantic connections were established to England and Norway. In the 1980's, the National Science Foundation (NSF) used this same technology to create its own network (NSFNET), which allowed researchers to share data and access resources located on remote computers. Eventually many educational, governmental, commercial, and other organizations connected their own local computer networks to the NSFNET to form what is now known as the Internet.  

In 1986 the National Science Foundation founded five super-computing centers: Princeton, Pittsburgh, the University of California in San Diego, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Cornell University. By 1987 there were 10,000 hosts. By 1989 there were 100,000 hosts. In 1991 the University of Minnesota developed the Gopher. In 1992 CERN released the World Wide Web and the number of hosts reached 1,000,000 (Zakon, 1994). Much of this growth did not come from more technologists and researchers joining the network, but from non-traditional entrants to the network community. A major impact on the Internet was due in 1993. Mosaic was released by the University of Illinois and in late 1994 the creator had moved to create a private business, Netscape, and continued to refine and improve the variations of Mosaic, thus released it as Netscape (Flake, 1995).  

There is evidence of the rapid growth in the number of servers in the WWW, since the 1992 release of the WWW and the 1993 release of Mosaic. This chart will undoubtedly change several times before the end of the 20th century, but our challenge for teachers is to use and teach technology literacy. The World Wide Web is still in its infancy. Yet, it shows much potential for becoming a major force in all aspects of our society. The growth of the World Wide Web has been very rapid with the appearance of Mosaic, and later Netscape, graphic browsers, which allow for point and click network-accessible information.  

This is what makes the web easy for anyone to browse, roam, and make contributions, as well as transferring (placing copies on their computers) of multimedia--including sound and video. Most of the educational institutions, government agencies, commercial companies, and other organizations around the world are moving into the World Wide Web (Flake, 1995). What dynamics will play out is unclear as this system continues to grow. Perhaps the biggest question we need to think about is: How do we want it to grow and help become a major contributor to the worlds educational system?  

ELECTRONIC MAIL

Electronic mail allows you to exchange messages and network files with other people around the world, who are connected to the Internet. There are a number of different e-mail software programs that provide different interfaces for editing and sending messages. The e-mail has other features, which allows anyone to join mailing lists to discuss different topics, or to receive announcements, newsletters, or electronic journals. These features are what make the e-mail so powerful 

Technological chances are fundamental for the development of a modern society. As President Bill Clinton stated in the President's Letter Announcing Public Access Email (1993 ), "part of our commitment to change is to keep the White House in step with today's changing technology. As we move ahead into the twenty-first century, we must have a government that can show the way and lead by example. Today, we are pleased to announce that for the first time in history, the White House will be connected to you via electronic mail. Electronic mail will bring the Presidency and its Administration closer and make it more accessible to the people." Electronic mail breaks the barriers of time and space, factors that are important for teachers. Students do not have to wait weeks or even months to receive an answer. Anyone connected to the Internet has a powerful access.  

Schools need to do more than provide passive learning. Students need to acquire the ability to communicate complex ideas, solve complex problems, identify order, find direction in an ambiguous and uncertain environment, and to think and reason abstractly (Cohen, 1987). "Small groups and student-selected activities, Cohen suggests, could provide opportunities for all students to become meaningfully engaged in reasonably complex and demanding learning tasks... and gain practice working cooperatively with others."  

Teachers using the Internet provide opportunities for frequent success, as well as an environment in which students receive personal attention, enhance students sense of self-esteem, competence, and foster a positive attachment for the school. Teachers using resources from the Internet are better informed, and are more accessible to students and parents.  

Electronic mail gives access to rich learning experiences-- such as communicating with a tutor or mentor--- and collaborative work. To some extent, e-mail lets students interact and explore, but some of these interactions and explorations are more powerful than others. While responding to pen pals in another state or country may provide some interesting learning experiences, there are other implications that can be use to explore deeply complex cultural and linguistic issues, or solve problems with distant peers over a period of time. Teachers could communicate with practicing professionals and community members, and both students and teachers could conduct collaborative projects.  

THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER

In this 21st century, schools and communities across the world are embarking with renewed determination to restructure K-12 education. State and local school districts are trying to develop new curriculum content standards, and are creating performance measures to assess students progress according to standards. Resent research built a powerfully case against what used to be accepted "truths" about learning and technology, traditional definitions of technology effectiveness, and traditional models of the cost effectiveness of technology don't work  

Traditionally, teachers are the "keepers of knowledge" and they transmit this knowledge to students. For teachers, the traditional methods of teaching have meant tedious preparation of lesson plans, copying from manuals in grant magnitude, the pressures from the administrators to increase the level of students achievement, and the pressures associated with needing to teach a roomful of students with varying degrees of knowledge and experience. Creativity gets more and more remote as the access of resources declines. 

With the introduction of the Internet to elementary schools, teaching methodology has to change. Having computers in a corner of the room does not guarantee their use, particularly their effective use. A computer lying in a corner of the classroom is not productive for anybody. There are stories about computers sitting unused in school because teachers do not know how to integrate this technology into their classroom. School administrators need to invest not only in hardware, but in adequate professional development plans for teachers.  

While our work places are moving swiftly into the Information Age, our classrooms are not keeping pace. Today's work place is more demanding than ever before. It requires that workers think critically and strategically to solve problems. The worker must be able to work collaborative and well with his/hers coworkers. The SCANS report published by the National Committee on Labour gives direction for educational reform by designating the skills which are required in the work place. The necessary skills are;  

  • "the ability to identify and organize resources to complete tasks;
  • the ability to collaborate with others to work productively;
  • the ability to acquire, evaluate and use information;
  • the ability to understand complex systems : and
  • the ability to work with and to continue to master a variety of technologies."

Today students must be prepared for that environment, so many teachers are preparing students by having them work cooperatively, through brainstorming, peer critiquing and conferencing  

Traditional teachers do not generally allow children to make authentic presentations of their thoughts and opinions to their peers. Evard, M. (1994) mentioned that in a traditional environment students are required to be passive. They are required to hand in their work to be read over, but most of the time, this is done to get it "corrected," not to communicate something the students care about the teachers. Evard believes that students can learn through asking and answering authentic questions, which have meaning and are personally important to them. For this the Internet has part of the solution.  

Diane Ravitch, the former U.S. Secretary of Education said, in June 1992, that the quality of American education must improve dramatically in order to improve the dismal dropout rate in our school, and that we know what works, we just don't do it. William Gates, the CEO of Microsoft Corporation, states that teachers know what works, and that is, to present ideas to students in a way to draw them into the excitement of learning, to take advantage of their natural curiosity, allowing them to interact with new information, and offer them relevant information so it has meaning in their lives. Goals 2000, Educate American Act, is the driving force behind the effort to raise standards for students, teachers and parents (Riley, 1995). The vehicle for accomplishing this huge task is believed to rely in the use of technology, especially the Internet resources.  

Generally, the acquisition of technology in elementary schools depends on an one time investment. However, schools can not simply invest in technology at one point in time and expect that their computer coverage will be adequate. We all know that technology advances nearly every day. School must budget for continued upgrades in their technology.  

Computers in some schools help teachers to keep themselves trained on the latest equipment and software. Teachers must constantly adapt their curriculum to the changing needs of their students that computer technology can bring about (IFT Insight, 1996). With the Internet, teachers are no longer necessarily the center of instruction. With the proper use of the WWW tools, students can take control of their own learning at different levels. Cognitive research has confirmed that students learn best when they are engaged with their studies, and when they are making decisions and thinking critically (Elmore, 1993). The role of the teacher begins to change to that of the person who guides students towards finding and sorting through information. In recent years the amount of information people must deal with is increasing exponentially. It is unrealistic to expect that teachers can teach all the necessary information that students will need to succeed in a community that expects tougher requirements than ever before.  

As President Clinton signed the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, "Teacher Education & Professional Development--The goal is to provide teachers with the professional development they need to help prepare students for the next century (WHPR, 1994a)." The basic intent of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act is to improve learning and teaching by creating a national framework for education reform (Apple Inc. 1994). This can be done if teachers get the necessary in service and work together in order to provide uniform standards.  

The Internet can play a major role in education reform. Reform efforts center on authentic tasks, with students taking more responsibility for their own learning. Teachers need to adapt themselves to a changing technological society to prepare productive citizens. Traditional methods of teaching are no longer valid for the next century. New times demand new ways of learning. 

In classrooms where technology is used to engage students in learning, teachers are no longer the informational givers, they are facilitators, guides, and co-learners. As facilitators, teachers provide rich learning environments, experiences, and activities, create opportunities for students to work collaborative, to solve problems, do authentic tasks, and share knowledge and responsibility.  

Students switch from passive to active learning. One important student role is that an explorer. Students discover concepts, connections, apply skills by interacting with the physical world, materials, technology, and other people. Such discovery-oriented exploration provides students with opportunities to make decisions while figuring out the components/attributes of events, objects, people, or concepts

Steve Floyd (1991), author of the IBM Multimedia Handbook, said that multimedia allows students to learn in the way that they learn best, whether that be by reading the material, by visualizing the material, by hearing it, or by being actively engaged. Engaged learners are ones who are responsible for their learning, and because they are responsible they are energized by learning. Teachers responding the survey agreed that there is a strong consensus that the use of technology in the curriculum can promote engaged learning.  

William Gates has this to say about the Internet: Multimedia computing, then, is a powerful tool for educators to use to develop lessons and materials. It is especially useful for the subjects that are hardest to teach and most difficult for students to learn, because it uses the media that teach those concepts most effectively."  

Teachers and students are learning to use the Internet in a variety of ways to enhance their teaching and learning experiences. The WWW represents the latest in communication technology, and much like the printing press's beginning days, it can be threatening to both students and teachers in the manner that it makes new demands and changes to expectations associated with traditional models. The Internet provides immediacy and global awareness that has been unavailable to students. Students and teachers are able to have interactions not only in other parts of the country, but also around the world. From this they can learn about the life and issues that impact on other people. Many teachers can get access to relevant discussions hosted by the Internet. Educators can use these discussions and the ability to share experiences with other educators for professional development and to combat the sense of professional isolation.  

THE MOVE TO HELP THE DISABLED IN THE SOCIETY

Depending on the way a web site is designed different types of barriers may appear for persons with different types of disabilities. Especially blind and partially sighted people run into difficulties. Because the screen can't be grasped visually a blind person uses speech output or a Braille-display. So text is being read out by the computer or is transformed into Braille script and can be made out by touching with the finger-tips. 

Many partially sighted people cannot read small letters and use special magnification software. A person suffering from red-green colour-blindness obviously will have trouble reading red letters on a green background. Many elderly people don't use the Internet because they have problems to orientate themselves due to weak sight. 

Other types of disabilities can result in problems as well. It is not only blind people who dispense with the mouse and use the keyboard exclusively but also many persons with limited mobility. If the HTML-Code is programmed appropriately one can navigate from one link to another with the tab-key. Another potential problem is that certain flickering effects with a frequency of around 20-Hertz may cause epileptic fits with some people. 

With both computers and the Internet becoming more and more efficient it is to be feared that also the use of multimedia effects will spread more and more. As long as an alternative text is simultaneously made available for all graphic and acoustic information this does not cause a big problem. But problems arise if information is transmitted to the visitor of a web page via the loudspeaker of his computer (as an audio-file) exclusively as this will exclude deaf persons.

So while the problems, which appear on web pages, may be different they have got one thing in common: If some basic rules of accessible web design are kept in mind all people will be able to use the Internet. 

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES IN THE INTERNET AND THEIR LIMITATIONS (FOR THE DISABLED)

As a rule even a blind person can easily comprehend a web page. Here special software and hardware devices are helpful, which were developed especially for blind persons and are very functional as a whole, but which have some serious limitations as well. 

Partially sighted persons have very different requirements on assistive technologies they use. Persons with minor sight defects e.g. use a large display and individual colour settings while others have to rely on a magnification of the screen content and often use speech output in addition. Persons with grave sight defects often need a screen magnifier assisted by a braille-display and speech output. 

All assistive technologies which are described here rely on the prerequisite that information is available as text and not as an image, and that this text is presented in a well-ordered and logical sequence. If this is not the case the users will inevitably face insurmountable barriers. 

  • Screenreaders are devices for output and have meant an enormous progress for blind users. A screenreader is a software application that incorporates all information in a way that it can be converted into speech output, larger fonts, and/or braille-display. So one can comprehend the information contained in a page and use programmes such as Internet browsers without the assistance of others and without seeing the graphic user-interface.
  •  Using a speech output (synthesizer) in combination with a screenreader one can surf the Internet and read the web pages. A speech output application transforms text data it receives to synthesized speech with the help of the sound card. This enable the screenreader application, which is retrieving text data for speech output from the screen, to supply audible output, which otherwise can only be read on screen, to the loudspeakers or to the headphone.  

Meanwhile combinations of Screenreaders and speech synthesizers are available which are specially designed for Internet access. They can present Web pages in the WWW with the help of speech output or a braille-display in a way that partially sighted or blind users can grasp the contents and navigate in the WWW. On condition however that the pages were designed applying the rules of accessibility, because web-Screenreaders like this have certain limitations and, as a consequence, certain demands on web design. 

Output of information in Braille script is rendered possible by a Braille display which is placed in front of the computer in form of a strip. 40 to 80 signs are arranged on its surface. A sophisticated mechanism is operating small pins which rise and go down to form the letters of the Braille alphabet. Users familiar with this device touch the pins and thus can read the text with their finger-tips. The braille display is more accurate than a speech synthesizer because the orthography can be checked much faster, while when using synthesized speech output opaque words have to spelled what can painfully slow down reading. 

  • A screen magnifier, to be used with a monitor as large as possible, can target and display a sector of the screen in a scale to be selected by the user. This sector can be displayed in different ways, e.g. as a mobile magnified window or as a horizontal bar. There are a lot of magnifying programmes by different manufacturers which offer a wide array of functions and adjustments.

The current trend is that screen magnifiers are combined with screen readers or are taking over the latter's functions so that synthesized speech output, braille display, and screen magnification can be used at the same time. 

THE IMPORTANT OF THE INTERNET FOR DISABLED STUDENTS

The importance of the Internet is rapidly growing in all sectors of society. But it offers particular advantages for disabled people because it enables people - regardless of disabilities - to exchange information, to organize cooperation in a team, and to build up and maintain contacts.  

For many disabled people computers have opened up new opportunities to find a job. Both the Internet and Intranets within companies replace the keeping of files and the transmission of information. Many jobs which formerly required mobility can now be performed sitting at a table in an office or even at home. This helps e.g. to avoid structural barriers. Especially to disabled people in our society to have a job means to be able to earn their living themselves, to be accepted due to their professional achievements, and thus to share in a very important aspect of social life. For persons who can't use their voice the Internet offers hitherto unexciting possibilities of communication. Shopping via the Internet as well as the possibility to perform bank transactions at home is adding to the independence of many disabled persons.  

As long as the Internet ensures that information is transmitted as text it can contribute to get over physical disabilities. Restrictions with one sense organ can be made up for by utilizing another one. 

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION: USEFUL RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Quality Before Quantity - To ensure the success of this program, quantity cannot be used as a substitution for quality. The integration of IT into the worlds education system for the improvement education quality is far more than the buying computer hardware for the schools, or simply having them connected to the global networks. We need to always question the wisdom of rushing into the mass purchase of computer hardware and pushing this equipment into schools before an adequate support infrastructure for this education re-engineering program is established. Providing computer hardware to the unprepared schools which have not committed to making the education conversion a success, asking schools to proceed without the needed supporting resources have proven to be wasteful exercises in the last century. 
  • Implement a support infrastructure - consisting of both hard and soft skills to assist schools and participating teachers in adopting IT into the teaching/learning environment. The hard skills needed for the installation and maintenance of the equipment, the network, the basic systems software, the help desk functions and the dispatching of on-site technical support can be effectively provided by the private/public sector as commercial activities. With todays technology, a large percentage of this type of support services focusing on the equipment can be dispatched or delivered over the computer network if the schools are properly wired.
The software skills I am referring to and repeatedly emphasized are more people-oriented. There is the need for specialized staff trained to assist teachers in the effective use of IT in teaching, to provide them one-on-one assistance in the design of teaching tools using IT and for the integration of IT into course materials. They will also facilitate the formation of support group consisting of teachers to allow them to share experience and to support each other. Some percentage of the work involved should be of a developmental or even be of a research nature. 
  • Encourage the developments of electronic educational contents - leadership from the government is needed in order to make available this type of educational contents from some private sectors. For many of the pioneers in the business of developing educational contents for the worlds market, the nagging question is the relatively small size of this market and the uniqueness of its education syllabus. The development of education contents to reflect the unique syllabus adopted in the primary and secondary education systems in some parts of the world can become a costly and not very rewarding business proposition. When the education syllabus of our schools remains under the supervision of the Education Department in a particular country, the Education Department must then assume the responsibility of creating a competitive environment to encourage publishers of school text books and teaching material to engage in the development of a percentage of their education contents in electronic forms.
 It is also worth noting that one of the most important benefits of the integration of information technologies into our education processes is to allow the students and teachers to venture out, to go beyond their familiar territories, to extend their experience, to form the habit of continuous learning, to step outside of the rigid syllabus of the subjects they are being examined on. The educational contents we need to develop must reflect this characteristic and to encourage this type of behavior. 

  • Investment in teacher training - In addition to the training of teachers in the use of computers and a few standard software tools, I believe, the successful integration of information technologies into the teaching/learning process will require our teachers to adopt a different set of professional behavior and practices.
 

    In the traditional classroom environment, teachers are expert-oriented and are the ultimate source of information and knowledge. The image of a school being the place where students can receive knowledge handed to them by their teachers is slowly changing. Student will soon discover through on-line networks that they are able to get advice or information from sources of expertise often more superiors than those from their teachers. 

    Our teachers will need to realize and to accept that their old roles are changing with the introduction of new technologies into the teaching-learning process. Teachers can no longer be just the deliverers of the knowledge that they have previously learned to their students. They will need to slowly shift themselves into the role of a learning companion, a guide in the knowledge exploration of their students. They will also need to become mentors capable of helping their students to distill information into knowledge and to turn knowledge into wisdom. 

    In addition to the learning of basic information technology skills, computer usage skills, teachers will need to understand the dangers and opportunities that IT is bringing to their profession. They must be emotionally and professionally prepared to accept the set of new challenges. 

  • Create avenues for private sector to actively participate in this Program - The quality education program, the integration of IT into our schools is far too important to be treated as a top-down, government centric, and publicly funded initiative.
We need therefore to suggest that more avenue be opened by governments to allow the commercial sectors, the professional groups, parents and individuals to share their ideas, and for them to contribute their time, skills or money to the IT related Programs. This type of private sector involvement will give the IT Programs the needed momentum and attention to become successful. Quality Education is not just the business of the government; the private sector has the responsibilities and the desire to actively participate in its making.

Some Philosophies Regarding the Use of Technology in Education By Theodore W. Frick Department of Instructional Systems Technology School of Education Indiana University Bloomington

Theodore W. Frick worked with computer technology in education for over 25 years. And have taught thousands of college students in the last 16 years to use computers in education, to design and develop computer-mediated learning products, and to evaluate them as well. Some of his philosophies regarding IT in Education centered around four important ideas:  

  • Technology is a means, not an end in education.
  • Technology is best used in education for teaching and learning activities that are not possible without it.
  • Teachers should select the best of culture, and make it available to students as they guide their learning.
  • The best way to predict the future of education is to make it.
Technology is a means, not an end.

Schools currently seem to be in a mad rush to adopt computers and other information technology. They are facing increased pressure from parents, students and business leaders to do so. I believe that this information technology revolution that we are now experiencing will eventually lead to transformation of our present educational systems (Frick, 1991).  

However, we should not view computer technology as an end in itself. Technology is a means to an end, like a box of matches is a means to create fire, or like a bicycle is a means of transportation.

The end we should keep in mind for education is to improve the quality of life (Maccia & Maccia, 1975). The primary purpose of education should be: makes everyones life better, not worse. We hope that by educating our younger generations, they will not repeat mistakes that past generations have made through ignorance or lack of experience.  

In education, what can we do with technology that we could not do without it?

When Frick was conducting one of the NSSE focus groups, he remembered clearly when a computer coordinator suggested this criterion. He was immediately struck with her wisdom: What can we do with information technology that could not be done without it to help students learn? This turns out to be a very useful and powerful criterion.  

For example, SimCity is a computer simulation that allows you to build a city and observe the consequences of how you zone the land (commercial, industrial, residential), where you put roads and utilities, etc. Your city may thrive and grow. Or it may drive away business and residents because of traffic problems, crime, high taxes, and expensive housing. You can repeat the simulation many times, and see what happens when you try different designs for your city. This is a powerful learning tool. By this he could not think of any practical way that a student could learn these city planning principles in a short period of time -- compared to a lifetime of experience. With a clear sense of example he said When my 75-year old father came and visited several years ago, he had never used computers before. I showed him how to use SimCity. On his own, he then later spent hours experimenting with and learning from this computer program.  

During a recent visit, I showed my father some of my work on the World Wide Web (the design of the Indiana University Bloomington site). Then I showed him a search engine (AltaVista), and asked him what he would like to find. He wondered how many people we could find named Frick. We did the search and found hundreds of Web documents that contained our family name. I cannot think of any other practical way that we could do this so easily, quickly and cheaply.  

Frick stressed on his preparation towards a conference about Information Technology and the Criteria for K-12 Education, he had many e-mail exchanges with Professor Nay-Ching (Nancy) Tyan. They were both separated by thousands of miles: he was in Bloomington, Indiana in the U.S. and she was in Taipei, Taiwan. He sent her earlier drafts of his presentation as e-mail attachments. She did not know at first how to view an attachment when it is a word-processed document. So Frick used e-mail to teach her how to save the attachment and transfer the binary file to her desktop computer. Then she could open the document with her word processor and print it. They could do this communication faster, more effectively, and more conveniently by e-mail -- even though separated by thousands of kilometers and many time zones -- than she could to find a local computer consultant to assist her. Again, Frick could not think of any other practical, inexpensive way that this much communication could go on between them under such circumstances of being separated by such time and distance 

Teachers should select the best of culture and act as guides.

This ought to be the primary role of teachers. Information technology itself cannot select the best of our culture for sharing with students. The technology is incapable of doing that. It cannot tell right from wrong. It cannot distinguish opinion from truth. It cannot appreciate beauty. In short, the new technology cannot evaluate the worth of the content that is embodied in the medium. That is our essential role as teachers.  

In his 1991 publication, Restructuring Education Through Technology, he suggested ways that information technology could make possible new kinds of teacher-student, student-content, and student-context relationships. If teachers could select and carefully organize a critical mass of student learning materials and activities in the classroom which are perceived as meaningful, motivating and useful to students, then we could give up the role of teacher as "sage on the stage" and become "guides on the side." Actually, this is not a new idea. Montessori classrooms have worked this way for about 90 years.  

Teaching has been historically viewed as "sage on the stage." In particular, prior to the invention of the printing press about 500 years ago, this was often a necessity. A teacher was the primary resource for knowledge and made that knowledge available to students through lectures and demonstrations. Nowadays knowledge can be made available through print, video and computer media. A teacher no longer needs to be front and center. "Guide on the side" describes the role that modern teachers can take. Teachers can select print and electronic media, through which other teachers can convey their messages. This does not mean that the role of the teacher is diminished. In fact, the opposite is true. Teachers and students are empowered by these additional learning resources. However, the emphasis could be changed. There could be less "sage on the stage" and more "guide on the side."  

Making the future.

The printing press and more recently television have brought about widespread change on an international level. We are aware now, more than ever, what is going on in other parts of the globe. Through the Internet and the World Wide Web, we are now experiencing a transformation in communication that is unrivaled in the history of civilization as we know it.  

I don't know how things will turn out; he stressed. Hopefully, humankind won't blow the world to smithereens with nuclear weapons. Hopefully, humankind won't exhaust our natural resources and destroy our ecosystem with overpopulation.  

Alan Kay, who helped design the graphical computer interface at Xerox PARC in 1970s that was later adapted for the Apple Macintosh, has said many times: "The best way to predict the future is to make it." As educators, the future is in our hands, and we have some powerful tools to help create it.  

SOME CONCERNS

The potential for growth of the educational resources available throughout the Internet are endless. However, there are some concerns that need to be acknowledged. For one thing, there currently is no censorship, which means that students can access some material not appropriate for them. The Internet is not controlled by any individual or group.  

A second concern is the improper use of the Internet. Many schools as well as districts need to establish Acceptable Use Policies. These policies clearly have to state the ground rules for student online computer use, and must be signed by both students and parents before the students may participate on Internet related projects. 

Another concern is that there is no systematic information system. There is no uniformity while searching for information. There are plenty of search engines. Some are easy and others not so easy to access. There is the need to have some information assistance. Sometimes, it becomes a major challenge to locate materials. At the same time many people are building home pages with references to their favorite links, this ultimately will build good reference materials. 

A fourth potential problem is that, since this is an on-line service and can be updated in a minute, it provides a dynamic process of updating and modifying materials regularly. However, since a number of people move or relocate their addresses, an active address one week may lead to a blind alley the next. 

CONCLUSION

Information Technology with regards to Education is in its infancy. As it grows and matures many different resources will customize it and shape it to meet their specific needs. The K-12 teaching and educators community will be no exception. The demands of education are specially rigorous. It is stated that there is a long way to go before the World Wide Web can serve as a major tool in elementary education. Specifically, the support for interactive communications is woefully underdeveloped, but is receiving significant attention and growth. 

A survey I made on the Internet with regards to this project revealed that the use of the different tools of the Internet is beneficial to the students regardless of learning styles or abilities. It was found that even very young children are using the resources to their advantage. Creative use of the Internet resources generates enthusiasm in students so that they respond with a better sense of self- achievement. It was also found that the use of the Internet resources enabled students to look for more information than required by the subject. 

While further research needs to be done, it would appear that the Internet resources, does help children to do better in achievement. Effective use of the new technology with students working collaboratively and participating in peer conferencing should go a long way toward preparing the students for the society of the twenty-first century. 

Dr. C.K. Wong (Hong Kong) has this to sayI like to caution that the integration of IT into education is only one of the many measures that we need to implement for the improvement of our overall education quality. Information Technology is not a quick fix nor is the panacea of all the problems in our education area. 

The Quality Education program is the most important investment into our future. We must not allow information technologies to be used as the substitution for better-trained, highly qualified teachers and administrators. How we teach cannot be more important than what we teach. A review of our curricula to better reflect the needs and the values of our time is just as important as introducing IT into the teaching of these curricular. 

IT cannot be used to solve the problem in the overloading of our teaching staff. IT cannot be used as a substitution for time that our teachers need to spend with their pupils and the care that they need to extend to them. Bringing IT equipment into the classrooms cannot be of a higher priority than building proper classrooms and schools to house the increasing number of newly arrived school age children and in the new population centers of our community. 

We want the worlds Quality Education Program to succeed, the integration of IT into our education process is an important step in achieving it; but we also realize it will take more than just introducing IT into the school to make Quality Education happen. 

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WEB for ALL (im VbI e.V.) Alte Eppelheimer Str. 38 69115 Heidelberg Tel.: +49 -(0)-6221/616871 oder +49-(0)-6221/27089 Fax: +49-(0)-6221/970322 Internet: www.webforall.info Project manager: Stefan Berninger  

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Theodore W. Frick Department of Instructional Systems Technology School of Education Indiana University Bloomington

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