AustinTackett ; Francisco Caracheo; Robin Davis; Octavio Henao A.; Beth Morgan; Dave Moursund; John Owens; Mark Standley (1993). The Technology Advisory Council: A Vehicle for Improving Education. Originally published by the International Council for Computers in Education. Reprinted December 2004.
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Click here for Original Preface to the book.
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About the Authors 2
Man is a tool-using animal.
Computers are here to stay. This is a trite, but true, statement. The newspaper, magazine, and television ads for computers give an indication of how large the computer market has become. It is evident that computers are becoming a common household item. They are routinely used throughout business, industry, government, education, and research.
At one time the word computer meant a person who carried out calculations using a desktop mechanical or electrically powered calculator. After the electronic digital computer was developed during the 1940s, the term computer gradually came to mean a machine rather than a person.
In this book we use the word computer to include both the electronic digital computer and the wide range of multimedia equipment such as the CD-ROMs and videodisc players now commonly used with computers. And, of course, a computer system includes a wide range of software and storage media.
Computers are a powerful tool. They are becoming more powerful every year as progress occurs in making faster circuitry, larger memories, better software programs, and better multimedia equipment. The price-to-performance ratio of computers is improving quite rapidly. That is, each year new computers have more muscle for the same cost as older models.
Computers are both a very complex and a very simple tool. Here are four simple uses of computers. A computer can help people to:
Notice that all of these things are important in education! It is not surprising that almost every school now has some computers. Almost every student now learns something about computers. It is evident that most people consider computers to be an important part of education.
However, few schools have adequate modern computer facilities. In most schools, the curriculum does not adequately reflect the current capabilities of computers. Most teachers are not yet comfortable in integrating computers into their classrooms.
Most important, students are not learning very much about using computers. They are not being adequately prepared to deal with the (now) routine use of computers on the job or in postsecondary education.
The goal of this book is help our children obtain a better educationan education that prepares them for adulthood in our Information Age society.
There is a strong movement toward site-based management in schools. This means that more decision-making authority is being given to the people who have to implement the decisions and to the people who are affected by the decisions. It is a bottom-up approach to education, as opposed to a top-down approach.
Advisory councils are a key part of site-based management. An advisory council should be broadly representative of the stakeholdersthe people who are affected by the decisions that need to be made and the people who are involved in implementing the decisions. Thus, an advisory council for computer technology in schools might well include students, parents, teachers, school administrators, school board members, taxpayers, business people, union representatives, and elected officials.
This book is designed to help a Technology Advisory Council (TAC) get started. It provides a sense of direction for some things that a TAC might do once it is started.
It is easy to get people to agree that children need a good education and that there is vast room for improvement in our current educational system. However, each person has his or her own ideas on what makes up a good education. Thus, there will be considerable disagreement among the members of a TAC. Nevertheless, the goal of helping children get a good education is so important that these disagreements can and must be overcome.
Computers are here to stay. They are changing our world, and they will change education. Every school or school district needs a TAC to help in planning and making the needed educational changes.
During the summer of 1992 I (Dave Moursund) ran an advanced Computers-in-Education seminar for six students. The six students and I agreed on a focus for the seminar and agreed to write a book about some of the content of the course. Working together, we developed an outline for the book. As the seminar proceeded, we each began to write sections of the book.
It was an interesting and challenging exercise! The seminar was eight weeks in length, and a number of the students were leaving the University of Oregon immediately after the end of the summer term. Thus, we were faced by a very tight deadline.
As I had hoped for when the project began, the total of knowledge, skills, and experience in the group was huge. Together we managed to accomplish a writing task that no one or two of us could have done individually in the time period.
In the process of reformatting the book for reprinting, I carefully read the entire text. Many parts of it are still quite modern. For example, the central theme of the book is the idea that a school can benefit considerably by having a Technology Advisory Council. Underlying this is the idea that a school needs to have a Technology Coordinator. These are still important ideas.
However, The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Relatively few schools perceived the need for a Technology Advisory Committee (TAC). Thus, the TAC did not become commonplace in our schools.
It is interesting to think why this might have been the case. Certainly, in the early to mid 1990s, the typical school had only a modest understanding of the computer field. Business and industrial uses of computers had progressed much faster than instructional uses of computers in schools. But, what the authors of this book failed to realize is that there is a huge difference between instructional uses of computers at a school level and uses of computers in business and industry. Thus, the types of non-educators who were apt to be interested in serving on a TAC viewed the world of computers a whole lot different than the way that they are viewed in this book.
In essence, during the 1990s and continuing on still today the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education was emerging. Effective participation in this field requires both knowledge of the technology and knowledge of the field of education. It is not easy to learn either of these two fields, and it is not easy for experts in one of the two fields to effectively communicate with experts in the other of the two fields.
Thus, to a large extent, the two groups of experts have gone their own ways. ICT has flourished in the world of business and industry, and huge changes have occurred in this field due to ICT. ICT has progressed in education, but I certainly would not go so far as to say it has flourished. The reasons for this are too many and too varied to appropriately treat in this short Preface. In essence, it requires a great deal of time and effort for a teacher to develop a level of ICT in Education knowledge and skills that is appropriate to the demands of todays schools. All we need to do it look at the International Society for Technology in Education National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers. (See http://cnets.iste.org/teachers/t_book.html.) Even today, relatively few precollege teachers come close to meeting these standards.
In retrospect, I found another aspect of this book quite interesting. Tim Berners-Lee developed the Web and built the first Website, which came on line August 6, 1991. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee.) The TAC book does not mention the Web. To me this means that after somewhat more than a year of its existence, the Web had not yet come to my attention. I suppose, in retrospect, that this is not too surprising. It took Microsoft a long time to come to an understanding of the importance of the Web.
As a final retrospective comment, I enjoyed reading the eight editorials (given in Appendix 1) that I wrote for the publication year 1991-92 of The Computing Teacher (now, Learning and Leading with Technology). This set of editorials was relatively widely distributed. Even today, their messages are still quite relevant. However, I suspect their impact on the world of education was relatively modest. Our educational system is highly resistant to change!