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School Administrator’s Introduction To Instructional Use Of Computers
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Moursund, D.G. (1980, 1983, 2005). School Administrator’s Introduction to Instructional Use of Computers.

This is a January 2005 reprint of .ta book first published in 1980, and whose 4th printing with revisions was published in April 1983. This was the first book published by the International Council for Computers in Education.

Click here for PDF file of the book.

Click here for Microsoft Word file of this book. Note that this may download the document to your desktop so that you need to open it from there. The file name is SchoolAdministrator.doc.

Click here for Table of Contents.

Click here for Preface to the January 2005 reprint.

Click here for Preface to the April 1983 printing.

Table of Contents

Preface to the 2005 Reprint 3
Graphics by Percy Franklin 4
Original Inside Front Cover 6
Original Preface 6
Part 1—Introduction 8
What Is A Computer? 8
What Is Interactive Computing? 9
What Is Interactive Computing? 10
What Is Computer Hardware? 11
What Is Computer Software? 13
What Are Programming Language? 15
Part 2—Instructional Use of Computers 18
What Kinds of Problems Can Computers Help Solve? 18
Main Categories of Educational Use of Computers. 20
What Role Do Computers Play in Problem Solving? 22
How Are Computers Used as an Aid to Learning? 24
What Should Students Learn About Computers? 27
What About Calculators? 29
Part III—Developing Appropriate Goals 31
Major Barriers to Instructional Use of Calculators and Computers. 31
Goals for the Instructional Use of Calculators and Computers. 33
What Will It Cost to Achieve the Goals? 35
Part IV—Appendices 37
Beware of Saber-Toothed Tigers 37
On Being a Change Agent 38
The Free Enterprise System 40
The Unchanging Conventional Curriculum 41
I Don't Know 43
District Inservice Planning 44
Computer Literacy: Talking and Doing 46
Glossary 48
Brief Guide to Periodical Literature 52
Original Inside Back Cover 54

Preface to the 2005 Edition

The School Administrator’s book was the first book published by the International Council for Computers in Education The original book was published in 1980 and was 48 pages in length.

The version reprinted here is the “Fourth Printing with Revisions, April 1983.” This revision was 64 pages in length. During those early years, ICCE made use of a press at the University of Oregon that printed 16 page “signatures.” That is, for the 5 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch page size we used for booklets, one could most easily have 16, 32, 48, or 64 pages of length.

The April 1983 revision included the expansion from 48 pages to 64 pages. Part of the expansion was done by including seven editorials from The Computing Teacher. The seventh of these editorials appeared in the April 1983 issue of The Computing Teacher.

By the time April 1983 printing, ICCE had a total of 11 books on the market. My recollection of the history of the School Administrator’s book is that the Hartford, Connecticut school district contracted with me to do some staff development for school administrators late in 1979 or early in 1980. I developed materials to support that inservice work, and those materials served as a starting point for this book.

Writing the book was a modest writing effort. By that time in my career I had authored or co-authored seven books that had been published by major publishing companies. In addition, I had written lots of material to support the work of the Oregon Council for Computer Education and ICCE.

The book sold well from the very beginning. Soon after its publication I wrote a second book, Teacher’s Guide to Computers in the Elementary School. ICCE published this book in 1980. It also sold well and by October 1982 was in its fourth printing.

I found it interesting to read this old book. Although computers had been around for many years, schools were just beginning to become serious about instructional use of computers about the time that I established ICCE in 1979. Very few school administrators had a decent level of understanding of possible uses or roles of computers in instruction.

As I read this book while preparing the reprint, I was struck by my efforts to communicate with school administrators in a manner that was both intellectually honest and was appropriate to absolute novices in the computers in education field.

Many of the ideas in this book have stood the test of time, and many others have proven to be less enduring. An example of the latter is the idea of teaching computer science, and that computer literacy should include a good dose of computer science. An interesting story comes to mind as I think about this.

Art Luehrmann originally coined the phrase “computer literacy” and over the past 35 years has made major contributions to the field of computers in education. As ICCE was developing its Special Interest Groups, it eventually developed one for computer science. At that time Art Luehrmann felt that this could well grow into a 50,000 member SIG. The logic behind this is that every junior high school and high school in the country would need at least one faculty member who was a computer science educator. My book for School Administrators includes an emphasis all students at the junior high and high school needing instruction in computer literacy that includes a strong focus on computer science.

But, this “forecast” did not turn out to be at all accurate. The computer science SIG never got very large, and nowadays it has only a few hundred members. The computer literacy that students achieve as they go through K-12 education has very little “computer science” content. While many high schools offer some computer science courses (including an AP course), many others do not. Relatively few students take such courses.

Here is a quote from the School Administrator’s book that can be thought of as a forecast:

By far the most important aspect of the computers-in-education problem is the individual teacher. The teacher holds the key to the success or failure of computers in education. We see this most graphically when we examine the current impact of calculators on elementary education. Most elementary teachers have little insight into the role and nature of calculators, either as an item of study in their own right or as an aid in problem solving. The same statement holds true for computers at all levels. Few teachers have had the opportunity to experience the use of computers or to receive formal training in their use.

Over the years I have made many attempts to be a “futurist” within the field of computers in education. This one quotation captures much of what I have seen and what I have forecasted in the field of computers in education. Even now, well over 20 years after the above statement was written, I believe it is still a correct statement. Progress in making effective use of computers in schools has been slow because teachers are not appropriately educated in problem solving and roles of computers in problem solving.

To close this short Preface, here is a quote from the Executive Summary of the National Education Technology Plan 2004, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, released January 7, 2005. It is consistent with and supportive of the previous paragraph.

This report was undertaken by the staff of the U.S. Department of Education in response to a request from Congress for an update on the status of educational technology. As the field work progressed, it became obvious that while the development of educational technology was thriving, its application in our schools often was not. Over the past 10 years, 99 percent of our schools have been connected to the Internet with a 5:1 student to computer ratio.

Yet, we have not realized the promise of technology in education. Essentially, providing the hardware without adequate training in its use – and in its endless possibilities for enriching the learning experience – meant that the great promise of Internet technology was frequently unrealized. Computers, instead of transforming education, were often shunted to a “computer room,” where they were little used and poorly maintained. Students mastered the wonders of the Internet at home, not in school.

Dave Moursund
January 2005

Preface to the April 1983 Book

Computers are now an everyday tool in business, government and industry. In most school districts computers are commonly used for tasks such as payroll, accounting, inventory and purchasing. Many school districts use computers to schedule students, test students and store student records. A 1980 survey by AI Bork and Jack Chambers indicated that over 90% of school districts in the United States now make some use of computers. Data from other sources lead to estimates that by the end of 1983 there will be an average of three microcomputers per school building in the United States.

But so far computers have had very little impact upon the curriculum in most schools. Most teachers do not make use of computers as an aid to instruction. The curriculum in most schools does not reflect the current capabilities of computers or the role computers play in the lives of adults in our society. Most students graduating from our schools are computer-illiterate. This means they have little insight into the capabilities and limitations of computers, or how computers affect their lives. They do not know how to use a computer as a tool for coping with the problems they will encounter on the job or as they continue their formal education.

This booklet has two purposes:

  1. To acquaint educational policy' makers with some of the current roles and potential applications of computers in the curriculum.
  2. To encourage educational policy makers to initiate actions that will lead to proper and effective instructional use of computers in their school systems.

This booklet is organized as a sequence of questions and answers designed to give an overview of the field of computers in education, with emphasis on instructional uses of computers. For each question a brief answer is provided, followed by a more detailed discussion. You can get a quick overview of each section by just reading the paragraph(s) in bold face, or you can gain more depth of understanding by reading the more detailed answers.

The overview ends with a set of goals and proposed actions and a discussion of the costs of achieving these goals. These are actions you can take; they are designed to improve instructional use of computers in your school system, The overall goal is to ensure that all students come to understand the capabilities and limitations of computers, and how to use a computer as an aid to problem solving,

Included in the booklet 'are nine appendices. The first seven are editorials from The Computing Teacher. The remaining two are a Glossary of frequently used terms in the computer-education field and a Brief Guide to Periodical Literature, which lists periodicals of particular interest to educators.