Educational technology may be a "fairy godmother" or the "boogy man"
depending upon individual teacher understanding of its potential and skill
in utilization of new models of teaching and learning. In reality it may
be neither. Rather it is an excellent learning tool that holds great promise
for expanding the walls of the learning community and meeting the changing
needs of future generations.
If we believe information is valuable, and it is, students have
access to seemingly limitless information through the World Wide Web and
linkages with experts in a variety of fields via e-mail. Some certainly
see this technology as information overload with little control over what
students access. They argue that countless hours are lost as students sit
transfixed sifting through information that may have questionable value.
Likewise, "virtual teaching (using technology) may result in virtual learning--a
situation in which the instruction nor the learning connects with reality"
(Hurst, 1995, p. 12). Others "translate access to vast archives of information
into personal knowledge . . ." (Dede in O'Neil, 1995, p. 8). Information
accessed through technology can stimulate further investigation, learner
collaboration, and knowledge construction (O'Neil).
Schools are increasing their acquisition of and access to numerous
technologies. The United States Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) released
the findings of a comprehensive federal study, Teachers and Technology:
Making the Connection, April 3, 1995. The OTA found that "schools access
to various technologies is rising steadily" (O'Neil, 1995, p. 10). However,
the utilization of technology is quite traditional:
The most common uses of technology today are the uses of video
for presenting information, the use of computers for basic skills practice
at the elementary and middle school levels, and the use of word processing
and other generic programs for developing computer-specific skills in middle
and high schools.
While Iowa students do well on standardized tests, the use of technology
doesn't fare so well. In Iowa, 95% of the high schools score above the
national median on the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. Iowa juniors
and seniors taking the American College Testing exam traditionally place
Iowa first or second in the nation, and the dropout rate among Iowa students
in grades 7-12 continues its decline (Personal communication, Iowa Association
of School Boards, December 27, 1995). However, Iowa ranks 9th in the use
of cable television, 15th in the use of videodisc technology, and 21st
in the use of satellite television (Iowa Department of Education, 1994).
There are likely several school- and district-specific reasons
why schools are not fully utilizing technology to design new models of
teaching and learning. OTA suggests: schools are not sufficiently stocked,
powered, or wired; most teachers have not had adequate training; there
is limited time for teachers to discover the use of technology; and perhaps
most importantly, educators lack a vision and clear understanding of the
role technology plays in the learning community (O'Neil, 1995).
In 1993-94, the per pupil expenditure for software in Iowa was
$8, down from $11 per pupil in 1992-93. Hardware per pupil expenditure
was $41, up $12 from the 1992-93 expenditure of $29 per pupil (Iowa Department
of Education, 1995). The total hardware/software per pupil expenditure
of $49 in 1993-94 represents slightly more than 1% of the state average
general operating fund expenditure of $4,406 per served pupil in 1993-94
(Iowa Department of Education, 1994). Although a dismal financial commitment
to computer technology, it is understandable when we consider that Iowa
schools, on average, allocated nearly 82% of their budgets to salaries
and benefits. They simply do not, in many cases, have general fund dollars
available for technology.
In an effort to address these issues, to build a knowledge base
relative for using technology as a teaching and learning tool, and to use
the knowledge base to recommend support for Iowa schools and communities,
and ultimately, to increase student achievement, the Institute for Educational
Leadership, at the University of Northern Iowa, hosted a working conference
titled, "An Iowa Dialogue on Issues Surrounding Utilization of Technology
in Schools." The conference was co-sponsored by the Area Education
Agency Media Directors, Iowa Department of Education, Center for Educational
Technology at UNI, Iowa Association School Boards, Iowa State Education
Association, Rural Schools of Iowa, School Administrators of Iowa, and
the Iowa Telecommunication Council. Eighty K-12 teachers, administrators,
school board members, community leaders, and college and university faculty/administrators
met for a three-day conference on the UNI campus. Five-member teams from
one district in each of Iowa's 15 AEAs were invited. These districts were
selected based on their leadership in utilization of educational technology.
Each participant self-selected into 1 of 8 issue area groups for
- How Will the Increasing Use of Technology in Schools Change
How, Where, and What Students Will Learn?
- How Will Schools Work with Communities/Businesses in Development
of Technology for Education?
- How Will Funding that Keeps Pace with New and Expanding Technology
- In What Ways Will Technology Change the Role of Teachers?
- How Will We Prepare Educators to Fully Utilize Available Technology?
- How Should the Increasing Use of Technology be Integrated into
a School's Planning Process for School Improvement?
- How Do We Assess the Impact of Technology on Student Achievement?
- How Can Schools Ensure Equal Access and Opportunities for Every
Student to Learn Through Technology?
Each participant was invited to write a position paper on the issue
area selected. Papers were submitted prior to the conference, copied, and
sent to participants in the same area issue group.
This monograph includes participants' position papers and the
consensus reports developed by the eight issue area groups during the three-day
conference and written by each group's facilitator(s). While you are encouraged
to read the entire published monograph for greater detail and understanding,
the following issue area recommendations are presented to highlight the
best thinking of conference participants.
How Will the Increasing Use of Technology in Schools Change How, Where,
and What Students Will Learn?
Increased use of technology in schools will result in continuous access
to learning creating a "perpetual teachable moment." Individualization
and personalization of instruction that supports personal learning styles
will move to the forefront. Teachers will become greater processors of
information while their role as providers of information will diminish.
Learning systems in the home will support learning systems in school. The
culture of schools will change as learning communities evolve.
- It is essential that schools and communities move toward total interconnection,
including workstations for every student, teacher, administrator, and student
home as well as workstations throughout the community.
- Curriculum should be developed to emphasize problem solving, communication
skills, advanced literacy, decision making, group interaction, social skills,
and self-directed learning.
- A learning culture needs to be encouraged and nurtured to create meaningful
and relevant connections, produce group and individual learning through
cooperation, and help students produce a variety of outcomes as information
is made available with continuous feedback.
How Will Schools Work with Communities/Businesses in Development of Technology
School districts must take the initiative in developing mutually beneficial
partnerships with businesses and the community. As schools develop technology
plans, they will be well-served to establish mutually beneficial, cooperative
processes that acknowledge the unique expertise and roles of their business
and community partners.
- Ongoing dialogue which communicates the participants' needs, ideas, influences,
and objectives needs to be fostered.
- To completely identify resources, school/business/community partners will
benefit from (a) taking an inventory of resources which will influence
the cooperative venture; (b) recognize individuals who will make a positive
impact on the development and maintenance of a successful program; and
(c) distinguish school, community, and business leaders who represent the
interests, entities, and values necessary for a partnership to work effectively.
- School/business/community partners must identify needs and clarify who
has what needs.
- All parties to the partnership will more fully support one another when
benefits of the partnership are identified. Identification of benefits
will help in the assessment of participation.
- A review process that encompasses evaluation and provides opportunities
for revision and improvement ought to be in place.
How Will Funding that Keeps Pace with New and Expanding Technology be Ensured?
The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) invited 55 advisers
representing business, education, government, psychology, sociology, anthropology,
and demography to name the most important knowledge, skills, and behaviors
students will need in the 21st century. The Council of 55 also was asked
what changes citizens and government must make to ensure our nation's children
are prepared for the 21st century. The Council made several suggestions
to the second question: "Number one for citizens: Commit tax dollars as
a long-term investment. View children as an investment not a cost. Number
two for government: Commit funding for education" (Uchida, 1996, p. 51).
A foundation of state funding is essential if educational technology
is to be equitably accessible to every student. And the funding must be
made a part of a long-term annual financial support. Combined with community
commitment of dollars and human resources, schools will be in position
to provide "electronic tools and training necessary to assist learners
to access, communicate, manipulate, apply, and use information."
- Resolving the critical issue of equity requires state funding following
the well-established precedent of a per pupil funding mechanism. This long-standing
tradition of per pupil funding should be followed to maintain an equitable
level of educational technology in each classroom accessible by each student.
- State funding for educational technology must be deposited in a separate
special revenue fund designated for educational technology uses. In 1996
through 1998, state funding per pupil should be set at $90 with $60 per
pupil each year thereafter. This will allow meaningful integration of educational
technology into the current education program.
- To go beyond the core level of per pupil educational technology funding,
the state should also look to other sources such as lottery proceeds and
possible sales tax to fund technology.
- Law changes need to be implemented to expand the use of Phase III dollars
for educational technology incentives and for buying staff time.
- Per pupil weighting for hiring jointly employed technology coordinators
is recommended to assist school districts in advancing educational technology.
- A local funding option of property tax and income surtax in an amount not
to exceed $1.00 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation authorized by
the legislature during the 1996 General Assembly is encouraged.
- Schools need to consider reallocating current funding dollars when setting
priorities in the budget/technology planning process.
- It is important for school districts to research funding sources, cooperative
purchasing opportunities, and current providers of services to ensure the
best buy for their money and to avoid duplication of effort.
- School districts are encouraged to build business partnerships to sponsor
classroom workstations, a portion of a computer system, or a computer lab.
Schools are also encouraged, as a part of the partnership, to make facilities
available to businesses and community members.
- School districts must work closely with their communities and legislators
to develop an understanding of the need for educational technology and
build support for funding.
In What Ways Will Technology Change the Role of Teachers?
Just as technology is not a cure all for teaching and learning, technology
in isolation is not likely to change the role of the teacher. When combined
with new teaching and learning models, it may well alter the role of the
Through the integration of educational technology as a learning
tool, teachers will become facilitators of student-centered learning; move
to a more collaborative role within the classroom and community; and will
work to adapt to societal shifts and more readily respond to the growing
body of knowledge on learning.
- Teachers must have immediate access to current technological resources.
- Teachers must be provided with time for planning, collaboration, and implementation
of educational technology.
- Teachers should be provided with ongoing, organized staff development and
- Teachers will benefit from the freedom to experiment in a climate that
fosters risk taking.
How Will We Prepare Educators to Fully Utilize Available Technology?
There are two dangers when addressing an issue such as teacher utilization
of technology. The first is that technology will become a bigger than life
entity and end product standing alone. Conversely, the second danger is
that technology may be diminished and trivialized to the level of mere
gizmos and gadgets. Technology is a tool, both as a physical structure
and as a method of structuring knowledge and know-how. Therefore, preparing
teachers to fully utilize technology must include both a broad, philosophical
adjustment in teacher thinking, attitude, and practices and specific skills-training
and practice opportunities. The following recommendations attempt to reflect
this tenuous balance between overall educator preparation and development
and specific skill- training in use of technology tools.
1. For "cultivation of an educational environment" schools
- Hire school personnel who exemplify the qualities of initiative and innovation
and who believe that all children must learn;
- Provide an opportunity for recognition of success through rewards and incentives;
- Provide and encourage professional growth opportunities through school
visitations, conference and workshop attendance, sharing professional publications,
and networking with others; and
- Create and sustain an atmosphere of trust, value of others, honesty, mutual
respect, support, and preservation
2. For "systemic change in the school culture" schools
- Prepare/educate personnel to understand the change process and their role
- Develop a decision-making process which allows for the free exchange of
information including: site-based decision-making, involvement of stakeholders,
teaming, and collaboration;
- Apply the decision-making process to change the school culture; and
- Make a paradigm shift to schools as centers for life-long learning.
3. For continuous growth supported by developmentally-appropriate
training schools ought to:
- Provide basic instruction on the use of hardware and software when needed;
- Train staff to recognize when and where technology tools and resources
should be utilized;
- Train teachers to infuse technology into their curriculum;
- Implement a training model of theory, demonstration, practice, feedback,
- Use a variety of strategies to encourage professional growth;
- Establish and maintain a partnership between K-12 and higher education
institutions to insure constant reformation of pre-service and graduate
programs in the use of technology; and
- Petition the Department of Education Licensure and Certification Bureau
to require technology training for recertification.
4. For the allocation of resources of availability,
access, and time schools must:
- Make technology available to every classroom;
- Utilize site-based decision-making so that stakeholder teams develop technology
plans, develop inservices, make technology funding decisions, and provide
incentives to infuse technology; and
- Request time-commitment from all stakeholders.
How Should the Increasing Use of Technology be Integrated into a School's
Planning Process for School Improvement?
A vision of what schools ought to be and systemic change are terms often
associated with planning for school improvement. Vision is what people
in a school and community believe their schools can and should become.
Systemic means working with every aspect of the school system and finding
interconnections that support student learning (Holzman, 1993). Technology
planning should not exist in isolation; rather, it should be integrated
into the system planning process.
- Technology planning should be a part of the school system's improvement
- There needs to be an identifiable purpose for technology in the school.
- Technology planning needs to be tied to student achievement.
- Various stakeholders need to be involved in planning.
- Teacher training is a necessary part of technology planning.
- Local budget priorities need to be secured to the planning process.
- "Best practices" gleaned from research need to guide planning.
- The integration of technology planning in the school planning process should
focus on the unique contributions of technology.
- Elements of the school planning process should include local and state
How do We Access the Impact of Technology on Student Achievement?
As noted earlier, schools are increasing their acquisition of and access
to numerous technologies. Emphasis has been placed on funding, equity,
teacher training, changing roles, and planning for implementation. However,
if our ultimate goal is to raise student achievement through utilization
of technology in new teaching and learning models, schools must be able
to access the impact of technology on student achievement. An action research
model is recommended as a way to organize a variety of assessments to study
which technologies are most effective in enhancing student learning. Assessments
include student, teacher, parent perceptions; and observable behaviors
and results on criterion referenced, norm-referenced, and performance-based
tests, portfolios, and authentic assessment.
- Before assessing the impact of technology on student achievement, schools
must decide what students should know and be able to do.
- After student performance objectives are identified, strategies for working
with students should be determined. Recommendations can be made about what
technologies to use as learning tools and what kinds of indicators will
be accepted as evidence that technology is having a positive impact.
- Schools can use assessment data already available, determine how it fits
in assessing the impact of technology on student achievement, and determine
what additional information needs to be collected.
- Comparisons of student performance can be made with predicted rates of
progress of students, with benchmark performances of like-aged students,
or with research literature.
- Perceptions of students, teachers, and parents should be checked through
surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
- By studying data from various assessments, judgments can be made relative
to whether students achieve at desired levels, what factors influence their
achievement, and which curricular areas benefit from the use of technology.
How Can Schools Ensure Equality of Access and Opportunities for Every Student
to Learn Through Technology?
A basic premise of education in America is that all students be offered
the opportunity to learn through a system of free public education. All
states ave struggled with funding mechanisms to ensure equity of opportunity.
Equity of access becomes a major issue when considering the use of technology
to advance student learning.
Educational technology holds great promise for the students of Iowa. However,
learning communities that fully utilize educational technology will not
develop by chance. Careful school/community planning that addresses the
critical issues identified in this working conference are essential for
success. Such planning will place Iowa students at the forefront of a society
that is rapidly becoming technology based.
- The Department of Education should mandate (with funding) that every school
district have a technology plan with a definite implementation process
which includes minimum standards for students.
- Within each district's plan, there must be evidence of equity of access
to technology for all students.
- For a district to maintain equity of access to technology, significant
training must be done for all instructional staff.
- Through released time, scheduled staff development time, and/or additional
contract days, time for staff to use various technologies needs to be provided.
- Instructional staff and students need to be able to access technologies
easily without rearranging schedules or redesigning their day.
- For a school district to maintain equity of access to technology, coordination
and technology support must be in place. A district technical support person
to trouble-shoot systems and answer technical questions and a coordinator
of technology to drive the technology plan will help ensure that all students
have equity of access to educational technology. Funding for these positions
is recommended in Issue Area Three.
- To guarantee equity of access to technology and opportunities for students,
the state and local districts should provide adequate funding as outlined
in the funding section of this summary.
- Holzman, M. (1993). What is systemic change? Educational Leadership,
- Hurst, D. (1995, October). [Review of the book Silicon snake
oil]. Educational Leadership, 53(2), 12.
- Iowa Department of Education. (1995). The annual condition
of education report. Des Moines: Author.
- Iowa Department of Education. (1994a). Fiscal year 1993-94
certified annual report financial analysis of the general operating fund. Des
- Iowa Department of Education. (1994b). The annual condition
of education report. Des Moines: Author.
- Iowa Association of School Boards. (1995, December). Report
profiles Iowa education. IASB Update, 28(27). Des Moines: Author.
- O'Neil, J. (1995). On technology and schools: A conversation
with Chris Dede. Educational Leadership, 53(2), 6-12.
- O'Neil, J. (1995b). Teachers and technology: Potential and
pitfalls. Educational Leadership, 53(2), 10-11.
- Uchinda, D. (1996). Preparing students for the 21st century. Arlington,
VA: American Association of School Administrators
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