Moursund's IT in Education Home Page

Five Research Summaries on IT in Education

Moursund, D. and Smith, I. (2000). Five Research Summaries on IT in Education. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

This five research reports were developed with funds provided by The Learning Company School Division, and written by the Research, Development and Evaluation Department of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The opinions presented in this paper are the work of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion or policy of the International Society for Technology in Education or The Learning Company.

The research reports are Copyright © 2000 by the International Society for Technology in Education. Reprinted with permission from ISTE. 800.336.5191 (U.S. & Canada) or 541.302.3777, cust_svc@iste.org, http://www.iste.org/. Reprint permission does not constitute an endorsement by ISTE of the product, training, or course.

These five research summaries are designed to be used by preservice and inservice teachers taking workshops or short courses in the field of IT in education. The first summary provides an overview of research in the field. The remaining four summaries focus on specific topics within the field.   

1. Overview: Research on IT in Education

2. Research on Multimedia in Education

3. Research on Internet Use in Education

4. Research on Accelerating and Tracking Student Achievement

5. Research on IT and Writing

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1. Overview: Research on IT in Education

Moursund, D. and Smith, I. (2000). Overview: Research on IT in Education. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

This document was developed with funds provided by The Learning Company School Division, and written by the Research, Development and Evaluation Department of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The opinions presented in this paper are the work of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion or policy of the International Society for Technology in Education or The Learning Company.

This is the first of a series of five reports. Dr. David Moursund and Dr. Irene Smith wrote the reports in the fall of 1999. A few small additions were made in fall 2000. The research reports are Copyright © 2000 by the International Society for Technology in Education. Reprinted with permission from ISTE. 800.336.5191 (U.S. & Canada) or 541.302.3777, cust_svc@iste.org, http://www.iste.org/. Reprint permission does not constitute an endorsement by ISTE of the product, training, or course.

Executive Summary

This paper is designed as background reading for PreK&emdash;12 educators taking IT short courses and workshops. It presents an overview of the current research on information technology (IT) and some of its roles in improving education. There is an increasing body of research supporting effective ways to make use of IT as one component of a school improvement plan and as an aid to improving student learning. This paper focuses on long-lasting ideas, ideas that will not quickly become outdated by the continued rapid pace of change in IT and in other areas of technology.

 

School improvement is always a current issue in education. The problem is complex and challenging, with a variety of approaches being tested at any particular time. As Fullan (1993) points out, the problems in today's educational system are deeply rooted in ongoing changes in science and technology, in educational research, and in our society. The expectations for our educational system have changed markedly during the past few decades. Many of the newer expectations are rooted in the rapidly increasing capabilities and availability of information technology in schools. A glimpse into possible futures of IT in education is given in Moursund (1999b). An excellent summary on the current status of the Science of Teaching and Learning is given in Bransford et al. (2000).

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 IT and School Improvement

In this document, IT includes the full range of computer hardware, software, and connectivity needed:

  • to represent and solve complex problems requiring powerful computer systems;
  • to create and use interactive hypermedia; and
  • to communicate synchronously and asynchronously with people, databases, and machines throughout the world.

Instructional uses of IT can affect curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Here are six important types of IT use that are contributing to improving education.

  1. IT can be an aid to achieving the various "traditional" goals and objectives of education. Computer-assisted learning (Kulik, 1994; Mann et al., 1999) has been shown to have a strong positive effect in student learning. On average, students learn more than 30-percent faster in computer-assisted learning environments, as compared to traditional school environments. Moreover, on average students learn somewhat better in a computer-assisted learning environment. The average improvement is an increase by .35 standard deviations, or moving from the 50th percentile to the 64th percentile.

    There have been hundreds of studies of distance learning projects in which a variety of delivery systems such as the World Wide Web (WWW) were used. On average, the findings tend to be "no significant difference, or slightly positive" as compared with traditional methods of delivering instruction (NSDP). Thus, there is rapidly growing acceptance for using distance learning to make courses and other learning opportunities available to students who do not have easy access to courses taught in traditional classroom settings.

  2. IT is an integral component of every academic discipline, providing both useful tools and becoming an important part of the discipline content. In many disciplines, if a student does not learn the IT components of the discipline, the student is not getting a "modern" education in the discipline. Business, graphics arts, math, and the sciences provide very strong examples of this situation.
  3. IT is an important academic discipline in and of itself. Some schools have decided that it is quite important for students to learn something about the discipline of IT, while others have opted against this approach. As early at 1983, there was a strong push of computer and information science being a part of the secondary school curriculum (The National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). Many schools provide a program of study that prepares some of their students to take an Advanced Placement exam in computer and information science.

    A good example of this is having students learn about creating databases as an aid to representing and solving problems. Databases are important components of IT as a discipline.

  4. IT-based assistive technology can help many students (Warger, 1998; Assistive Technology [Online]). Assistive technology is defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product, whether acquired commercially, off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Good examples of this type of IT use are found in voice input systems and speech output systems that are used by a number of students.
  5. IT is an integral assessment tool in computer-assisted learning and in portfolio assessment. Computer-based testing is an effective assessment tool and is seeing increasing use (ETS).
  6. IT can be used to help implement research-based improvements and is currently routinely used by teachers in instructional delivery, preparing lesson plans, gradebook applications, and in collaboration with other teachers. Electronic collaboration: A practical guide for educators (LAB, 1999) provides a comprehensive introduction to teachers on how to use electronic collaboration to explore issues of teaching and learning, and as a component of professional development.

Each of these six types of IT use in education can be used as an effective component in a school improvement plan. The capabilities of IT are continuing to improve quite rapidly, and the number of computers available for student use is also increasing. Thus, there is substantial need for continuing research on effective ways to make use of this IT. A number of authors of individual research studies and meta-studies indicate that additional research is needed (Kosakowski, 1998; PCAST, 1997).

Moreover, many of the research studies include a statement that professional development is essential to having IT make a significant contribution to improving student learning. Without high quality and well prepared teachers, the potentials of IT in education cannot be achieved.

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 Improving Education with IT

Two encompassing goals of IT professional development are to improve the quality of education that children are receiving and to help create an educational system designed to meet the diverse needs of a diverse population. Education is a complex system and is highly resistant to change. In addition, IT is a complex and rapidly changing field. This means that improving education through appropriate use of IT is a challenging task.

Most approaches to educational reform are overly simplistic and not rooted in the research of successful methods. Fullan (1999) indicates that the accumulated research and practitioner knowledge needed to significantly improve our educational system is readily available, but appropriate implementation is quite difficult. For example, many schools have invested heavily in IT hardware facilities, but have failed to provide appropriate amounts of professional development for their teachers. PCAST (1997) suggests that on a nationwide basis, PreK-12 schools should be spending twice as much on IT professional development as they are currently spending.

In the past, the individual school was usually considered an appropriate unit of change in educational improvement projects. The present trend moves the unit of change from an individual school to the school district and addresses systemic change in this larger educational system. In either case, a full range of stakeholders—ncluding the teachers and their top-level administrators—need to be involved. There needs to be a plan for making use of IT to improve student learning and achievement. Fullan (1999) argues that a simultaneous bottom-up (teacher level) and top-down (school administrator level) approach is needed to produce significant and long lasting educational improvement.

The research literature on systemic change in schools and school districts is compelling. At both a federal and a state level, funding agencies are pushing for and funding widespread implementation of these research and practitioner-based systemic change models. An excellent summary on a variety of educational reform (school renewal) efforts is given in the April 1999 issue of the Phi Delta Kappan. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL, 1998) provides an analysis of 64 widely implemented educational reform programs. Secondary School Principals and National Educational Association (1999) examines 24 school reform models. The US Department of Education is funding implementation and research on a variety of school reform models (OERI). An extensive analysis of roles of IT in educational reform is given in Distance Learning Resource Network (DLRN).

In recent years, the US Federal government has invested heavily in IT in education. An excellent summary of current evidence on the effectiveness of IT in education is given in Department of Education (1999). While there is growing evidence that values using IT in education, it is clear that IT is no panacea. Rather, IT should be viewed as a valuable component of educational reform.

The business world is also quite interested in schools learning to make more effective use of IT (CEO Forum). Businesses channel large amounts of grant money and used equipment to schools.

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 The Pace of IT Change

Widespread implementation of IT into PreK-12 education did not begin until after the advent of microcomputers. In 1983, estimates are that there was only one microcomputer or timeshared computer terminal per 125 students. By 1998 the ratio was about one microcomputer per six students (Becker and Anderson, 1998).

Many people argue that the current ratio of students and teachers per microcomputer is still too low to make a significant difference in our educational system. For example, they point to the business world in which each worker who has need for computer access has their own terminal or microcomputer. There is a growing set of research studies on PreK-12 environments in which every student has a computer. Sandholtz et al. (1997) reports on a ten-year study of the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT). This extensive study provides strong evidence that a one-to-one computer ratio, substantial staff development, and empowering teachers to make changes in curriculum and instruction can lead to major improvements in student retention, attendance, and student learning. ROCKMAN ET AL reports on a major multi-school project in which each student has a laptop. The results that are emerging in this longitudinal study tend to be consistent with the ACOT results.

The microcomputers of today are thousands of times more powerful than microcomputers of 1980&endash;and, indeed, are more powerful than the million dollar mainframes of 1980. Today's software is far more versatile and user-friendly. The Internet (which includes the World Wide Web) has emerged as a very important aid to communication as well as the storage and retrieval of information. There is now a huge installed base of microcomputers in business, government, research, people's homes, and in education at all levels.

This trend of increasingly powerful microcomputers and computer networks has been going on for more than three decades. Kurzweil (1999) provides extensive evidence that the current pace of change will likely continue for at least another 15 years—and then may increase to a still faster pace of change! Moreover, Kurzweil gives a number of examples in which computers are already as good as or better than humans at solving certain types of problems such as chess and medical diagnosis. Needless to say, continued progress in artificial intelligence is presenting a challenge to our educational system. If a computer can solve a type of problem that we are having students learn to solve in school using non-computer methods, what should students be learning about solving this type of problem? This is a question facing all teachers.

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 IT National Standards

National Standards have been established in many different PreK-12 curriculum areas. Comprehensive information on these standards in many different disciplines and for the various states is available in Developing Educational Standards. The Midcentral Regional Educational Laboratory has a focus on standards and their web site is quite extensive (McREL).

ISTE has developed IT national standards for PreK-12 students and for preservice teachers (ISTE). A summary of the standards for PreK-12 education is given below. The web site (ISTE) contains detailed performance indicators for students completing each grade level. The ISTE-developed standards for preservice teachers are designed to prepare them to teach in schools helping students meet the ISTE student standards.

ISTE has worked with a number of non-IT content area standards groups to develop lesson plans that help students meet both IT and non-IT standards (NETS, 2000).

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ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards

ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) reflect the collective research and analysis of a large number of IT education researchers and practitioners. The NETS document divides the educational technology standards into six broad domains.

Domain 1. Basic operations and concepts:

  • Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of technology systems.
  • Students are proficient in the use of technology.

Domain 2. Social, ethical and human issues:

  • Students understand ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology.
  • Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
  • Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.

Domain 3. Technology productivity tools:

  • Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
  • Students use productivity tools to collaborate in constructing models, preparing publications, and producing other creative works.

Domain 4. Technology tools for communication:

  • Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.
  • Students use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences.

Domain 5. Technology tools for research:

  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness to the specific tasks.

Domain 6. Technology tools for problem solving and decision making:

  • Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.
  • Students employ technology in the development of sophisticated strategies for solving problems in the real world.

 

Stages of Concern and Levels of Knowledge

This section contains a 10-level scale of IT stages of concern and levels of knowledge for teachers (Moursund, 1999a). The scale is useful in helping individual teachers and the teachers in a school chart a path toward increasing IT expertise designed to help their students get a better education.

  1. Complete Novice: I have never used a microcomputer. I don't know how to turn one on and make it go. When the opportunity to gain such knowledge has been made available to me, I have not taken advantage of it. It may be that I have a negative attitude toward this technology.
  2. Awareness: I have an awareness of microcomputers and other IT but I do not make personal or professional use of them. I do not engage my class or staff in discussions about IT even when I realize that this would be relevant to the topic at hand. I do not make use of IT in developing instructional materials or administrative materials. I am somewhat techno-phobic.
  3. Informational: I have a novice level of microcomputer and other IT knowledge and skill. Although I sometimes make use of these facilities, my level of knowledge is not adequate for professional use. I lack the knowledge and skills needed to make use of IT in developing instructional or administrative materials, and in integrating use of IT into my professional work. I am concerned about gaining more general information about their potential uses in my professional work.
  4. Personal: I am beginning to make use of microcomputers and other IT in my professional work. I am concerned about how using this technology will affect me personally in my professional career as an educator.
  5. Time: I am concerned about the time needed to learn about and to keep up with the rapid changes in IT in education. As I continue to learn, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much there is to learn and how much time it takes to keep up.
  6. Practitioner: I make quite a bit of use IT in my professional work. I routinely integrate IT into the teaching and/or administrative work that I do. I am concerned about the effects my use of microcomputers, networking, and other IT is having and should be having on students and staff, and on my professional work.
  7. Collaboration: I occasionally help a colleague to handle an IT hardware or software problem in an informal, one-on-one setting. I share what I am learning about use of IT in teaching and in administration and I encourage my colleagues to make such uses of IT. I am concerned about doing more extensive work with my peers so that we both learn more about IT in education.
  8. Refocusing: I am comfortable in making routine professional use of IT and in helping my colleagues to learn IT. I am concerned about learning new ways to use what I already know and about expanding my horizons. I want to help facilitate substantial changes in my department and my school.
  9. IT Leader: I am a technology leader and high level facilitator. I routinely present talks and workshops at conferences. I am concerned about continuing to maintain and improve my leadership and professional development skills, in my school, school district, and beyond.
  10. Educational Leader: I am an educational leader, with broad interests in how to improve our overall educational system. Although IT remains one of my primary interests in education, I am concerned about appropriate and cost-effective ways to better meet the educational needs of all students and all other stakeholders in our educational system. I have an interest in national and global educational systems. I am concerned about the complexity of educational systems and how to improve these systems.

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The Importance of Professional Development

Although computers and other IT have been used in the PreK-12 curriculum for more than 40 years, the field is still in its infancy. A satisfactory level of appropriate hardware, software, connectivity, teacher knowledge and skills, and IT-compatible curriculum, instruction, and assessment has not yet been reached in most schools. Professional development&endash;and building on the steadily accumulating research and practitioner knowledge&endash;are essential if IT is to achieve its potential in helping to improve our educational system

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 References

Abdal-Haqq, I. (1998). Constructivism in teacher education: Considerations for those who would link practice to theory. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed426986.html.

Assistive Technology [Online]. Accessed 9/26/00: http://genasys.usm.maine.edu/.

Becker, H. and Anderson, R. (1998 National Survey). Teaching, learning, and computing: A national survey of schools and teachers [Online]. Accessed: http://www.crito.uci.edu/tlc/html/tlc_home.html.

Bransford, J.D.; A. L. Brown; & R.R. Cocking: editors (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. [Online]. Accessed (9/14/00) http://books.nap.edu/catalog/9853.html.

CEO Forum [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ceoforum.org/home.cfm.

Department of Education (July 1999). The Secretary's conference on educational technology: Evaluating the effectiveness of educational technology [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/Technology/TechConf/1999/.

Developing Educational Standards [Online]. Accessed: http://putwest.boces.org/standards.html#Section2.

DLRN (Distance Learning Resource Network). The role of technology in the systemic reform of education and training [Online]. Accessed: http://www.wested.org/tie/dlrn/reformtechpart1.html.

ERIC (Educational Resources Information Network). [Online]. Accessed: http://www.accesseric.org/.

ERIC -IT (Educational Resources Information Network: Clearinghouse on Information and Technology). [Online]. Accessed: http://ericir.syr.edu/ithome/.

ETS. Educational Testing Service: Computer-based testing [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ets.org/cbt/index.html.

Fullan, M. (1993). Change forces: Probing the depths of educational reform. London: The Falmer Press.

Fullan, M. (1999). Change forces: The sequel. London: The Falmer Press.

Gall, M. and Vojtek, R. (1994). Planning for effective staff development: Six research-based models. Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management.

ISTE. International Society for Technology in Education Standards Projects [Online]. Accessed: http://www.iste.org/Standards/. This web site contains IT standards for both preservice teachers and for PreK-12 students.

Kosakowski, J. (1998). The benefits of information technology. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed420302.html.

Kulik, J.A. (1994). Meta-analytic studies of findings on computer-based instruction. In E.L. Baker and H.F. O'Neil, Jr. (Eds.). Technology assessment in education and training. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kurzweil,R (1999). The age of spiritual machines: When computers exceed human intelligence. NY: Viking.

LAB (1999). Electronic collaboration: A practical guide for educators [Online]. Accessed: http://www.lab.brown.edu/public/index.shtml.

Mann, D., Shakeshaft, C., Becker, J., and Kotthamp, R. (1999). West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education Program: An analysis of student achievement. Santa Monica, CA: Milken Family Foundation. [Online]. Accessed: http://www.milkenexchange.org/.

McREL (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory). The McREL standards database [Online]. Accessed: http://198.17.205.11/standards-benchmarks/.

Moursund, D. (1999a). Lecture notes from the course University of Oregon, College of Education course ELTA 610: Digital Age Education. The resource Web site for this course is http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/IT_Resources/. Eugene, OR: Author.

Moursund. D. (November 1999b). Digital Technology: Transforming Schools and Improving Learning [Online] . In Day, B. (Ed.) Teaching and Learning in the New Millennium. Published by Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education. Accessed: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/dave/
year_2015_chapter.htm.

NETS (2000). National Educational Technology Standards for students: Connecting curriculum and technology. Eugene, OR: ISTE.

NSDP. The no significant difference phenomenon [Online]. Accessed 12/17/00: http://nova.teleeducation.nb.ca/nosignificantdifference/.

NWREL (1998). Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Catalog of school reform models: First edition [Online]. Accessed: http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/
natspec/catalog/index.html
.

OERI. Department of Education, OERI, Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program (CSRD) [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OERI/csrrdp.html.

Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

PCAST (March 1997). President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Report to the president on the use of technology to strengthen K-12 education in the United States[Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/Technology/pubsh.html. Washington DC: Author.

Phi Delta Kappan (April 1999). This theme issue edited by Roger Soder contains eight articles on educational renewal.

ROCKMAN ET AL (October 1998). Powerful tools for schooling: Second year study of the Laptop Program [Online]. Accessed: http://www.rockman.com/.

Sandholtz, J., Ringstaff, C., and Dwyer, D. (1997). Teaching with technology: Creating student-centered classrooms. NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Scardamalia, M. and Breiter, C. (1996). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. In T. Koschmann, (Ed.). CSCL: Theory and practice of an emerging paradigm. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Secondary School Principals and National Educational Association (1999). An educator's guide to schoolwide reform [Online]. Accessed: http://www.aasa.org/Reform.

Taylor, Robert (1980). The computer in the school: Tutor, tool, tutee. NY: Teachers College Press.

The National Commission on Excellence in Education (April 1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/title.html.

Warger, C. (1998). Integrating assistive technology into the standard curriculum. ERIC/OSEP Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/
ERIC_Digests/ed426517.html.

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2. Research on Multimedia in Education

Moursund, D. and Smith, I. (2000). Research on Multimedia in Education. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

This document was developed with funds provided by The Learning Company School Division, and written by the Research, Development and Evaluation Department of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The opinions presented in this paper are the work of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion or policy of the International Society for Technology in Education or The Learning Company.

This is the second of a series of five reports. Dr. David Moursund and Dr. Irene Smith wrote the reports in the fall of 1999. A few small additions were made in fall 2000. The research reports are Copyright © 2000 by the International Society for Technology in Education. Reprinted with permission from ISTE. 800.336.5191 (U.S. & Canada) or 541.302.3777, cust_svc@iste.org, http://www.iste.org/. Reprint permission does not constitute an endorsement by ISTE of the product, training, or course.

Executive Summary

There is substantial research supporting the effectiveness of information technology-assisted project-based learning (IT-assisted PBL). When IT-assisted PBL is used in a constructivist, cooperative learning environment, students learn more and retain their knowledge better. Moreover, students learn the content area being studied, how to design and carry out a project, and uses of IT. Because this approach to teaching and learning is significantly different from the "stand and deliver" didactic approach used by many teachers, it tends to require a significant amount of professional development for its effective implementation.

As computer technology becomes more accessible, we increasingly encounter products classified as multimedia documents. These documents are used in electronic format and can include text, sound, graphics, animation, video, color, and interaction with the user. Some authors reserve the term multimedia for electronic documents that have an intrinsic linear design (e.g., PowerPoint or ClarisWorks slideshows) and use the term hypermedia to refer to documents that incorporate a planned non-linear organization (e.g., Digital Chisel, HyperStudio or MicroWorlds projects). Most authors (and this document) make no distinction between the terms hypermedia and multimedia.

Multimedia documents provide a means of communicating and storing information. Since such documents are used in electronic format only, many variations in viewing result as each user controls the order and manner of interacting with each element in the document. In addition, multimedia documents can also be designed to receive information from the reader and process it to provide individualized responses. This interactivity adds a new dimension to the reading/writing process and the capabilities of reading and writing.

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Standards Promote Multimedia Use in Education

Swan (1999) analyzes a number of sets of national standards in various disciplines. Her article contains a summary of the IT-related standards from a language perspective. She emphasizes that non-print literacy is a common component of many sets of national standards.

The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) profiles describe expectations of students completing various grade levels (ISTE). Here are a few multimedia examples:

(PreK-2). Use developmentally appropriate multimedia resources (e.g., interactive books, educational software, elementary multimedia encyclopedias) to support learning.

(PreK-2). Create developmentally appropriate multimedia products with support from teachers, family members, or student partners.

(Grades 3-5). Use technology tools (e.g., multimedia authoring, presentation, Web tools, digital cameras, scanners) for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for audiences inside and outside the classroom.

(Grades 6-8). Design, develop, publish, and present products (e.g., Web pages, videotapes) using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom.

In summary, the ISTE NETS call for students to learn to read and write multimedia. Other standards include similar expectations (Developing Educational Standards; McREL). Often the standards call for students to develop substantial multimedia skills by the time they finish the eighth grade, and that they routinely use and extend these skills while in high school.

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Developing Multimedia Documents

A report from Department of Education (1999) contains several White Papers focussing specifically on multimedia. In general, these papers indicate that the research reports support of the use of multimedia in IT-assisted Project Based Learning (PBL). In such PBL, the content and assessment tend to be authentic, and students learn both the subject area being studied and also how to create multimedia documents. However, the research points out that there tends to be a steep learning curve for teachers, so that professional development is very helpful. Moreover, initial use of multimedia in IT-assisted PBL tends to over emphasize IT and under emphasize the underlying subject areas being studied. This appears to be a standard transition that teachers and their students go through as they learn to use multimedia.

Creating multimedia documents is a rewarding, but complex and challenging task. The Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education [Online] provides some excellent examples of interactive, multimedia documents designed to be used by students and teachers.

Giving students an opportunity to produce documents of their own provides several educational advantages. 

  • Students that experience the technical steps needed to produce effective multimedia documents become better consumers of multimedia documents produced by others.
  • Students indicate they learn the material included in their presentation at a much greater depth than in traditional writing projects.
  • Students work with the same information from four perspectives: 1) as researcher, they must locate and select the information needed to understand the chosen topic; 2) as authors, they must consider their intended audience and decide what amount of information is needed to give their readers an understanding of the topic; 3) as designers, they must select the appropriate media to share the concepts selected; and 4) as writers, they must find a way to fit the information to the container including the manner of linking the information for others to retrieve (Smith, 1993). All of these contribute to student learning and help to explain the improved student learning that is often associated with IT-assisted PBL.

There is another aspect to developing multimedia documents that empowers students. Students quickly recognize that their electronic documents can be easily shared. Because of this, students place a greater value on producing a product that is of high standard. An audience of one the teacher &emdash; is less demanding than an audience of many &emdash; particularly one's peers. Students quickly recognize that publishing a multimedia document that communicates effectively requires attention to both the content and the design of the document.

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Information Retrieval Using Multimedia

The Web can be thought of as a digital global multimedia library. With the steadily increasing classroom use of multimedia resources, students are required to develop the skills needed to locate information contained in this format. Classroom instructors and students alike must learn the search skills previously considered the domain of library specialists.

Developing skills for locating and evaluating information found in multimedia documents requires the consideration of how the technology handles information. It requires learning to distinguish good multimedia (good content, good design) from poor multimedia materials. In addition, the ability to conduct searches using Boolean logic is required for effective use of multimedia documents.

Students that experience the challenge of creating multimedia documents are better prepared to make use of documents created by others. Through creating multimedia documents, students learn how to link ideas and how to establish good ways to navigate documents visible only in small pieces. The technical aspects of multimedia are no longer hidden to students. This combined knowledge and skills help them evaluate and use multimedia documents effectively.

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Multimedia Project-based Learning

Multimedia brings a "two for the price of one" dimension to project-based learning. Students using multimedia in PBL learn both the IT and the disciplines being focused on in the PBL lesson. Project-based learning has long been a part of the repertoire of many teachers. Blumenfeld et al., (1991). provides an excellent summary of the research literature supporting PBL. Sandholtz et al. (1997) provides strong evidence of the success of IT-assisted PBL in the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow schools in which students had ready access to IT both at school and at home. In summary, there is strong research evidence that in the hands of an appropriately prepared teacher, IT-assisted PBL works (PCAST, 1997).

Multimedia tools provide a rich environment for conducting PBL with students. A multimedia based PBL lesson can easily include multiple goals. The following list of goals is extracted from Moursund (1999) with the permission of the author. The original list is much longer and is based on a survey of the literature in this field. A good IT-assisted PBL lesson is apt to include goals listed below.

  1. Expertise. The project has a goal of students gaining increased knowledge and skill within a discipline or an interdisciplinary content area. Often students gain a high level of expertise within the specific area that they are studying.
  2. Research. The project requires use of research skills and helps students to improve their research skills.
  3. Higher order thinking skills. The project is challenging and has a focus on students improving their higher-order thinking skills.
  4. Information technology. Students increase their knowledge and skill in making use of information technology to carry out the work in a project. A project may include a specific goal of students acquiring new knowledge and skills in information technology.
  5. Engagement. Students are actively and appropriately engaged in carrying out the work of the project; the students are intrinsically motivated.
  6. Community of scholars. The entire class-student, teacher, teaching assistants, and volunteers-becomes a community of scholars, working together and learning from each other. Often this community of scholars expands to include parents, students from outside the class, and others.

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Multimedia and School Reform

Typically, multimedia plays two roles in school reform models:

  1. Students learn to make use of multimedia as an aid to retrieving information from multiple sources. Students learn to learn from multimedia-based computer-assisted learning environments.
  2. Students learn to develop multimedia materials, especially as a component of project-based learning that is rooted in constructivism and in cooperative learning.

Many school reform models focus on a significant restructuring of the classroom. They propose a shift from a teacher-centered didactic model to a learner-centered constructivist model (Moursund, 1999; PCAST, 1997; Sandholtz et al., 1997). While details of these constructivist models vary, they typically include an emphasis on cooperative learning and on the use of project-based learning. Most types of school reform models recognize that multimedia brings a new dimension to reading and writing, and that students need to develop basic skills in information retrieval in multimedia environments. There is substantial research supporting constructivism (Fosnot, 1996) and cooperative learning (ERIC). The ERIC Digest contains a number of research summaries that provide strong evidence of the effectiveness of cooperative learning in a wide range of classroom settings. Abdal-Haqq (1998) explains how to make effective use of constructivism in preservice and inservice teacher education.

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Final Remarks

Multimedia based PBL is an excellent vehicle for implementing a number of different research-supported approaches to improving education. The Web contains extensive resources for students who are doing PBL activities. For example, the Federal government maintains an excellent and steadily growing site of materials specifically designed for use in education and is quite useful to students doing PBL (FREE). Many teachers have embraced an IT-assisted PBL approach to teaching. Typically they report that professional development was essential to their learning to make effective use of IT-assisted PBL and that they would "never go back" to the way they had previously been teaching.

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References

Abdal-Haqq, I. (1998). Constructivism in teacher education: Considerations for those who would link practice to theory. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed426986.html.

Abdullah, M.H. (1998). Guidelines for evaluating web sites. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed426440.html.

Blumenfeld, P.C., Soloway, S., Marx, R.W., Krajcik, J.S., Guzdial, M., and Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning. Educational Psychologist. 26(3 & 4), 369-398.

Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education [Online]. Accessed: http://hi-ce.eecs.umich.edu/.

Department of Education (July 1999). The Secretary's conference on educational technology: Evaluating the effectiveness of educational technology [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/Technology/TechConf/1999/.

Developing Educational Standards [Online]. Accessed: http://putwest.boces.org/standards.html#Section2.

ERIC. Educational Research Information Clearinghouse Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/index/.

Fosnot, Catherine Twomey, ed. (1996). Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

FREE. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/free/.

ISTE. International Society for Technology in Education Standards Projects [Online]. Accessed: http://www.iste.org/Standards/. This web site contains IT standards for both preservice teachers and for PreK-12 students.

Logan, Robert K. (2000). The Sixth Language : Learning a Living in the Internet Age. Toronto, Canada: Stoddart Publishing Company.

McREL (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory). The McREL standards database [Online]. Accessed:

http://198.17.205.11/standards-benchmarks/.

Moursund, D. (1999). Project-based learning using information technology. Eugene, OR: ISTE.

Moursund, D. (September 1999). Ten powerful ideas shaping the present and future of IT in education. Learning and Leading with Technology. v27 n1.

NETS (2000). National Educational Technology Standards for students: Connecting curriculum and technology. Eugene, OR: ISTE.

NWREL (1998). Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Catalog of school reform models: First edition. [Online]. Accessed: http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/natspec/catalog/index.html.

Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

PCAST (March 1997). President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Report to the president on the use of technology to strengthen K-12 education in the United States. Washington DC: Author.

Sandholtz, J., Ringstaff, C., and Dwyer, D. (1997). Teaching with technology: Creating student-centered classrooms. NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Smith, I. (1993). An investigation into students' perceptions of the learning environment provided by hypermedia tools in an interdisciplinary high school course of studies. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Oregon.

Swan, K. (1999). Nonprint literacy standards [Online]. Accessed: http://cela.albany.edu/newslet/fall99/standards.htm. Albany, NY: Center on English Learning and Achievement.

U.S.Library of Congress [Online]. Accessed: http://www.loc.gov/.

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3. Research on Internet Use in Education

Moursund, D. and Smith, I. (2000). Research on Internet Use in Education. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

This document was developed with funds provided by The Learning Company School Division, and written by the Research, Development and Evaluation Department of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The opinions presented in this paper are the work of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion or policy of the International Society for Technology in Education or The Learning Company.

This is the third of a series of five reports. Dr. David Moursund and Dr. Irene Smith wrote the reports in the fall of 1999. A few small additions were made in fall 2000. The research reports are Copyright © 2000 by the International Society for Technology in Education. Reprinted with permission from ISTE. 800.336.5191 (U.S. & Canada) or 541.302.3777, cust_svc@iste.org, http://www.iste.org/. Reprint permission does not constitute an endorsement by ISTE of the product, training, or course.

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Executive Summary

There is emerging research on how the Internet can be an important component of a program that significantly increases student learning. This type of program requires students and teachers to have appropriate access to the Internet and instruction in its use. It also requires changes in curriculum content, instructional practices, and assessment to take advantage of the communication and information storage and retrieval strengths of the Internet, and to appropriately assess the types of learning these strengths engenders.

The Internet, a global network of networks connecting millions of computers and computer users, is a relatively new resource for educators. In fall 1998, 89-percent of US public and private schools and 51-percent of all classrooms had Internet access (Wirt, 1999). The Internet's rapid growth and dynamic nature has educators asking research questions that are still in the process of being studied. Researchers are only beginning to gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the Internet in the classroom. However, even at this early stage, there is emerging evidence that the Internet provides a variety of valuable aids to education.

  • The Internet provides up-to-date information on a variety of classroom related topics unavailable from other sources. Perhaps the content of textbook, library and teacher knowledge is enhanced by this new medium?
  • Computer networks are increasingly serving as an aid to communication and to the storage and retrieval of information. In that sense, the Internet can be thought of as a natural extension of 5,000 years of progress that began with the development of reading and writing, and has included inventions such as the movable type printing press, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, VCR, and communications satellites (Logan. 2000). Some of the educational research on print materials, telephone, radio, television, and video carry over to the Internet. However, since all of these media are combined on the Internet, this is a new and challenging area of educational research.

Never have such powerful aids to communication and to the storage and retrieval of information been made readily available to so many people. However, the Internet is an open system with relatively little control on content or usage. Thus, teachers need to know both the potential benefits and the potential pitfalls of using the Internet in their classrooms.

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Goals for Internet Use in Education

The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) profile expectations for technology use by students. The following examples identify some Internet-related expectations for students in elementary and middle schools (ISTE NETS).

(PreK-2). Use developmentally appropriate multimedia resources (e.g., interactive books, educational software, elementary multimedia, and encyclopedias) to support learning.

(Grades 3-5). Use keyboards and other common input and output devices (including adaptive devices when necessary) efficiently and effectively.

(Grades 3-5). Use technology tools (e.g., multimedia authoring, presentation, Web tools, digital cameras, and scanners) for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for audiences inside and outside the classroom.

(Grades 6-8). Design, develop, publish, and present products (e.g., Web pages and videotapes) using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom.

Many individual states have developed Information Technology in Education standards that include similar expectations (Developing Educational Standards). As with the ISTE NETS, often the expectations are that students have developed substantial Internet skills by the time they finish the eighth grade, and that they then routinely practice these skills while in high school.

The US Federal Government and many state governments have decided that all students should have convenient access to the Internet. A number of federal programs have helped to fund implementation (Four Pillars). Federal aid to networking and other aspects of telecommunications is currently providing approximately one-third of all of the funds going into IT in PreK-12 education (E-Rate).

School reform and school renewal models vary from "back-to-basics" to a heavy emphasis on the thorough integration of IT throughout curriculum, instruction, and assessment (MCREL, NWREL). Even in most back-to-basics types of school reform models there is recognition that the Internet brings a new dimension to communicating over time and distance and that students need to develop basic skills in its use.

Many school reform models focus on a significant restructuring of the classroom and providing students with routine Internet connectivity both in their classrooms and at home. An extreme example of this is provided by laptop computer projects in which each student has a laptop and connectivity to use at home and school (ROCKMAN Et Al).

In brief summary, the Internet plays four roles in school improvement and reform models:

  1. Students learn to make use of the Internet as an aid to retrieving information from multiple sources.
  2. Students learn to use the Internet as an aid to communicating with and collaborating with people throughout the world.
  3. Students learn to develop web materials, especially as a component of project-based learning that is rooted in constructivism and in cooperative learning.
  4. Students learn in an IT-Assisted Project-based Learning environment, with the Internet playing a major supportive role.

The next four sections of this paper explore the research on these four major types of Internet use in the classroom.

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Digital Library Access

One measure of the quality of an education system is the nature and extent of the information that it makes available to students. Guidelines for school libraries and textbook selections assist in maintaining a high standard. These resources along with the teacher's knowledge have traditionally been the dominant sources of information for all curricula.

Internet access is changing this paradigm. A student can have access to a library that is hundreds of times as extensive as the school library. In addition, they gain access to computer-assisted learning and distance education aids to learning. Students can easily access up-to-date information that is not in the textbook and that is not familiar to the teacher.

It is reasonable to conclude that a global library will enhance student learning. Lance (1994) provides a meta-study of the relationship between the quality of school library media centers and student achievement. This meta-study suggests the quality of a media center and the supporting staff correlates directly with student achievement. However, there is surprisingly little research in this area. A much more extensive study on this topic has recently begun under the auspices of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

In many schools, library media specialists and regular classroom teachers now have joint responsibility in helping students learn to access information through the Internet and other sources. The Library Information Online Network (LION [Online]) Simpson (1996) are excellent sources of information for library media specialists and classroom teachers. McKenzie (1995) provides assessment rubrics covering the following seven major components of accessing information.

  1. Questioning. A researcher recognizes decisions, issues, and problems when looking at a topic.
  2. Planning. A researcher identifies sources of information likely to build understanding.
  3. Gathering. A researcher collects and stores information for later consideration.
  4. Sorting. A researcher reorganizes information so that the most valuable becomes readily available to support understanding.
  5. Synthesizing. A researcher recombines information to develop decisions and solutions.
  6. Evaluating. A researcher determines whether the information gathered is sufficient to support a conclusion.
  7. Reporting. A researcher translates findings into a persuasive, instructive, or effective product(s).

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Communication via the Internet

It is easy to learn to use the Internet to do Email. In some sense, Email is like having a person to person telegraph system -- without having to learn Morse code. Thus, students can begin to communicate via Email as soon as they develop rudimentary reading and writing skills. Email interaction with both local and far away friends and acquaintances can be quite motivational in improving one reading and writing skills.

Of course, the Internet provides much more that the simple exchange of Email messages as an aid to communication. Here are three additional important educational uses of the Internet:

  • Internet relay chat. Students interact with each other in "real time" (Simpson, 1999). Increasingly, the interaction includes text, sound, and video.
  • Collaboration on projects. Students work on projects with national and international partners. The International Education and Resource Network is a non-profit organization that facilitates tens of thousands of students throughout the work in interacting on Email-based projects (I•EARN).
  • Distribution lists. A distribution list is typically set up so that a restricted list of people receives the messages. Typically only a restricted group of people (the list moderator, or perhaps only the people on the list) can post messages to the list. For example, a distribution list might be all of the students and staff for one class, with only the teacher and the teacher's assistants being allowed to post to the list.

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Developing Web Documents

Hypermedia that includes text, sound, graphics, video, color, and interactivity is a new form of communication. Students of all ages can learn to both "read" and "write" hypermedia. Note that we have 5,000 years of experience in teaching reading and writing of hardcopy text, and we still do not have agreement on "the best" way to do this. What there is an extensive literature from practitioners describing how they teach students to read and write hypermedia, we are a long way from having definitive research in this area.

The Web is a unique form of hypermedia reading and writing environment. Research indicates that students benefit from learning to author Web documents. (Smith, 1993). In the process of developing an effective Web site that includes text, sound, graphics, video, color, and interactivity, students develop skills that make them more effective users of Web sites. In addition, as the Web developers needs gains an awareness of technical issues such as varying download times, they learn to use the Internet for their own research uses with better results.

Many of the practitioner articles about student use of the Web indicate that students are often highly motivated by the opportunity to create Web sites. Often such articles discuss ideas on students developing Web sites as part of a project-based learning assignment.

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IT-Assisted Project-based Learning

Project-based learning (PBL) has long been a part of the repertoire of many teachers. Blumenfeld et al. (1991) provides an excellent summary of the research literature supporting PBL. In brief summary, in the hands of an appropriately prepared teacher, PBL works well and leads to increased student learning. Equally important, IT-assisted PBL provides an efficient vehicle for helping students to learn to make effective use of the Internet and to learn to attack interdisciplinary problems.

IT brings a "two for the price of one" dimension to PBL. Students using IT in PBL learn both the IT and the disciplines being focused on in the PBL lesson. Significant gains in students learning can occur in this environment (Sandholtz et al., 1997).

An IT-assisted PBL lesson has multiple goals (Moursund 1999). Four of these that are relevant to use of the Internet are quoted below.

  • Research. The project requires use of research skills and helps students to improve their research skills.
  • Higher order thinking skills. The project is challenging and has a focus on students improving their higher-order thinking skills,
  • Information technology. Students increase their knowledge and skill in making use of information technology to carry out the work in a project. A project may include a specific goal of students acquiring new knowledge and skills in information technology.
  • Community of scholars. The entire class—student, teacher, teaching assistants, and volunteers—becomes a community of scholars, working together and learning from each other. Often this community of scholars expands to include parents, students from outside the class, and others.

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Concerns and Considerations

The Internet is not a panacea for all of the problems facing our educational system, Here are three major concerns and considerations in use of the Internet in education.

 

1. Inappropriate People and Information

The Internet is an open system providing access to people and information throughout the world. Much of what can be accessed might be considered to be "inappropriate" for access by young students. However, there is no universally agreed upon definition of inappropriate. Standards vary from location to location and from person to person. Thus, it is not surprising that a variety of approaches are being used to address the problem. The following examples identify three widely used approaches being followed by various schools.

  1. Only allow students Internet access under strict and careful adult supervision.
  2. Require that student access to the Web be filtered through blocking or filtering software designed to prevent access to inappropriate Web sites. There is a substantial amount of literature discussing the pros and cons of blocking software. Before schools provide Internet access, many schools and libraries require the installation of blocking software. A good starting point for finding information on this topic is to search the Web using one or more of the common search engines available for this task.
  3. Educate students and their parents about what constitutes appropriate and acceptable use of the Web, e-mail, and other components of the Internet. Require parents and students to sign an Acceptable Use Policy. Information about Acceptable Use Policies and sample policies are available at the SEIR•TEC web site. See also (Responsible Netizen).

Each of these approaches has strengths and weaknesses. It is unlikely that we will ever have definitive research strongly supporting one approach over the others.

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2. Learning to Use the Internet Takes Time

The research evidence indicates that both students and teachers take a significant amount of time to learn to make effective use of the Internet (Hinchliffe, 1996). Research indicates that teachers are usually surprised at how much student learning time is require before students begin to make effective use of the Internet to learn other subject areas (Department of Education).

This conclusion is not surprising, and it contributes to two problems. First, the curriculum in most schools is already over crowded. Increasingly the curriculum has a focus of preparing students to do well on various tests that have little or nothing to do with using IT effectively. Second, most teachers lack the IT training and experience that is needed to make them comfortable in working with students who are routinely using the Internet and other IT. This second difficulty explains why so many research reports emphasize the need for more professional development (PCAST).

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3. The Digital Divide

As Internet use becomes a routine tool in business, government, and education, there is growing concern about the "haves" and the "have nots." This is now called the Digital Divide problem. There are significant differences among various states and various school districts within states in terms of providing Internet access to students. The Digital Divide is currently an important political issue (Digital Divide Network).

There are major differences between at home access to the Internet between lower income households and higher income households (Benton Foundation; NTIA). In some school districts, well over 80-percent of students have Internet access at home. In others, under 20-percent of students have Internet access at home. In any case, teachers and schools need to make effective use of this at-home resource as part of their overall plan for helping students achieve high standards in education.

As an example of what can be done, there is increasing emphasis on keeping schools open outside of the regular school hours, and using schools as community centers. This can serve as a vehicle for providing Internet access and other IT access to students who lack such access at home.

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Final Remarks

The Internet provides a valuable learning environment and can be a major vehicle for school improvement. The Internet provides students and teachers with improved access to people and information. This improved access can serve as an underpinning for significant changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Ongoing professional development and substantial technical support at the school level are essential to achieving these educational improvements.

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References 

http://ericir.syr.edu/plweb-cgi/fastweb?getdoc
+new-ericdb+new-ericdb+988393+0+wAAA+
%28Internet%29%26AND%26%28chat%29

AASL. Information power: Because Student achievement is the bottom line [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ala.org/aasl/ip_implementation.html.

Benton Foundation. The digital beat [Online]. Accessed: http://www.benton.org/DigitalBeat/.

Blumenfeld, P.C., Soloway, S., Marx, R.W., Krajcik, J.S., Guzdial, M., and Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning. Educational Psychologist. 26(3 & 4), 369-398.

CCT. Center for Children and Technology [Online]. Review paper on educational technology research and development (January 1999). Accessed: http://www2.edc.org/CCT/cctweb/.

Department of Education (July 1999). The Secretary's conference on educational technology: Evaluating the effectiveness of educational technology [Online]. Available: http://www.ed.gov/Technology/TechConf/1999/.

Developing Educational Standards [Online]. Available: http://putwest.boces.org/standards.html#Section2.

Digital Divide Network [Online]. Accessed: http://www.digitaldividenetwork.org/.

E•Rate [Online]. Accessed: http://www.eratehotline.org/.

Fosnot, Catherine Twomey, ed. (1996). Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Four Pillars [Online]. Available: www.ed.gov/Technology/techno.html.

Hinchliffe, L. (1996). Helping early childhood teacher education students learn about the Internet. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed395714.html.

I•EARN. International Education and Resource Network [Online]. Accessed: http://www.iearn.org/.

ISTE NETS. International Society for Technology in Education Standards Projects [Online]. Available: http://www.iste.org/Standards/. This web site contains IT standards for both preservice teachers and for PreK-12 students.

Lance, K. (1994). The impact of school library media centers on academic achievement. SLMQ. Volume 22, Number 3, Spring 1994. [Online] Accessed: http://www.ala.org/aasl/SLMR/slmr_resources/select_lance.html.

LAB (1999). Electronic collaboration: A practical guide for educators [Online]. Accessed: http://www.lab.brown.edu/public/index.shtml.

LION. Library information online network [Online]. Accessed: http://www.libertynet.org/lion/lion.html.

Logan, Robert K. (12000. The fsixth language: Learning a living in the computer age. Toronto, Canada: Stoddart Publishing Company.

McKenzie, J. (1995). Information skills rating scale [Online]. Accessed: http://www.fno.org/libskill.html.

McREL (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory). The McREL standards database [Online]. Available: http://198.17.205.11/standards-benchmarks/.

Moursund, D. (1999). Project-based learning using information technology. Eugene, OR: ISTE.

NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration). Falling through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/contents.html.

NWREL (1998). Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Catalog of school reform models: First edition. [Online]. Available: http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/natspec/catalog/index.html.

PCAST (March 1997). President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Report to the president on the use of technology to strengthen K-12 education in the United States. Washington DC: Author.

Responsible Netizen [Online]. Accessed: http://netizen.uoregon.edu/.

Sandholtz, J., Ringstaff, C., and Dwyer, D. (1997). Teaching with technology: Creating student-centered classrooms. NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

SEIR•TEC (Southeast and Islands Regional Technology Education Consortium). [Online] Available: http://www.seirtec.org/seir-tec/.

Simpson, C. (1999). Internet relay chat. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed425743.html.

Simpson, C. (1996). The school librarian's role in the electronic age. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://ericir.syr.edu/ithome/digests/librole.html.

Wirt, J. (November 1999).   Indicator of the month: Internet access in public and private schools [Online]. Washington DC: NCES. Accessed: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/2000002.pdf.

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4. Research on Accelerating and Tracking Student Achievement

Moursund, D. and Smith, I. (2000). Research on Accelerating and Tracking Student Achievement. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

This document was developed with funds provided by The Learning Company School Division, and written by the Research, Development and Evaluation Department of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The opinions presented in this paper are the work of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion or policy of the International Society for Technology in Education or The Learning Company.

This is the fourth of a series of five reports. Dr. David Moursund and Dr. Irene Smith wrote the reports in the fall of 1999. A few small additions were made in fall 2000. The research reports are Copyright © 2000 by the International Society for Technology in Education. Reprinted with permission from ISTE. 800.336.5191 (U.S. & Canada) or 541.302.3777, cust_svc@iste.org, http://www.iste.org/. Reprint permission does not constitute an endorsement by ISTE of the product, training, or course.

Executive Summary

Information technology is a powerful aid to the organization and delivery of instruction, and to student assessment. Extensive research on computer-assisted learning (CAL) indicates that, on average and over a wide range of subject areas and grade levels, CAL helps students learn both significantly faster and significantly better as compared to traditional teaching methods. Part of the reason for this is that CAL provides a method of implementing some of the results from educational research in curriculum, instruction and assessment.

In addition, CAL fits in well with a "any topic, any time, any place" approach to learning. Thus, CAL is likely to be increasingly used in our formal and informal educational systems.

Accountability is a driving force behind many of the national, state, and local educational reform movements. These initiatives strive to set high standards, assess how well these standards are being met, and hold both students and the educational system accountable for results. This research report focuses mainly on use of information technology (IT) as an aid to meeting high standards in curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

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National Educational Technology Standards

The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) profiles describe learning expectations of students completing various grade levels (ISTE). Here are a few examples related to student learning:

(PreK-2). Use a variety of media and technology resources for directed and independent learning activities.

(PreK-2). Use developmentally appropriate multimedia resources (e.g., interactive books, educational software, elementary multimedia encyclopedias) to support learning.

(Grades 3-5). Use general purpose productivity tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, remediate skill deficits, and facilitate learning throughout the curriculum.

(Grades 3-5). Use telecommunications efficiently and effectively to access remote information, communicate with others in support of direct and independent learning, and pursue personal interests.

(Grades 6-8). Apply productivity/multimedia tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum.

(Grades 9-12). Evaluate technology-based options, including distance and distributed education, for lifelong learning.

The ISTE NETS recognize that IT provides a variety of aids to learning. An overriding goal is for students to become independent, self sufficient, lifelong learners.

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School Reform

A number of the ideas in current school reform movements can be traced back to A Nation at Risk (The National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), which detailed shortcomings of our educational system and proposed possible solutions. The proposed solutions focused on increasing requirements and accountability. It included a specific IT-oriented recommendation that the teaching of computer science in high school should equip graduates to: (a) understand the computer as an information, computation, and communication device; (b) use the computer in the study of the other basics and for personal and work-related purposes; and (c) understand the world of computers, electronics, and related technologies.

When A Nation at Risk was published in 1983, our schools had approximately one microcomputer per 125 students. By 1998, this ratio had improved to one microcomputer per six students (Becker & Anderson, 1998). Many of the IT in education goals that were initially envisioned as only appropriate at the high school level have now be moved down to lower grades.

A Nation at Risk emphasized the need to strengthen course content, set high standards for students, and encourage students to take a rigorous program of study. Many school reform models developed in the past decade follow these same ideas.

Curriculum content can be loosely divided into lower-order skills and higher-order skills. The various current school reform models discussed in NWREL (1998) vary in their emphasis on lower-order versus higher-order skills. Some of the reform models might best be described as "back to basics" while others have a major emphasis on higher-order thinking skills. In recent years, however, there has been growing agreement that problem solving and other higher-order skills should be given increased emphasis (Moursund, 1996; PCAST, 1997). This has increased public debate about the nature of testing methodologies, and whether they place an undue emphasis on lower-order skills.

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Teaching to the Test

 The following is quoted from the introduction to ETS (1999). 

There is just too much standardized testing going on in our schools, lamented an unlikely source, the late Gregory Anrig, then-president of the world's largest testing organization, Educational Testing Service. (Before that, he was Chief State School Officer for Massachusetts, and had been an educator throughout his career.)

The critics of such massive testing, including many in educational measurement, offer the following complaints: Tests have been composed mostly of multiple-choice questions, which cannot assess a student's ability to come up with his or her own answers. Commercial or state tests may not test what local schools are actually teaching. Some critics argue that teachers are pushed in the direction of narrowing instruction to what they think is on the test. Further, test preparation sometimes becomes the instruction, with instructional materials mimicking the formats and exercises that appear on such tests.

Educational reformers note that curriculum content, instructional methods, and assessment should be closely aligned. We should test what we teach, and teach what we test. In recent years, such ideas have formed the basis for an increasing emphasis on authentic assessment. Authentic assessments are performance-based, realistic, and instructionally appropriate. Wiggins (1997, 1998) argues that assessment should be aligned with curriculum content and teaching methodologies. Wiggins and others argue that if the assessment methodologies are appropriate, then teaching to test is not only appropriate, it is also highly desirable.

The authentic assessment movement has stressed the value of alternatives to multiple-choice questions, such as performance evaluation, open-ended questions, student writing, students explaining the reasoning behind their problem-solving work, rubrics, and portfolio assessment.

Many schools, school districts, and states are now making use of portfolio assessment. Details on use of computers in the creation and storage of such portfolios are given in Lankes (1995). IT makes it possible to store a wide variety of portfolio items in a computer, and then to develop a specific portfolio to fit the particular needs of a given situation.

Computer-assisted learning (CAL) is a broad term that includes computer-assisted instruction, computer-based instruction, computer-based learning, and so on. Within most CAL software there is considerable alignment among curriculum content, instructional methodology, and assessment.

Most CAL software can be roughly placed into one of two categories: limited-scope and broad-scope. Substantial CAL software is limited-scope and might focus on a specific topic at a specific grade level. Broad-scope CAL software might cover many different subject areas at a number of grade levels. Such software is often called an integrated learning system (ILS).

Regardless of its category, CAL software may include a student assessment system and provide reports to be used by the student and/or the teacher.

One of the key features of CAL is that it is a vehicle for translating educational research into practice. A CAL system can be based on one or more learning theories-accurately implementing the research ideas from those theories. Park (1993) analyzes CAL from this point of view. His research found evidence that CAL developers are beginning to employ a variety of cognitive learning theories in addition to the commonly used behavioral learning theory.

A different approach to analyzing the translation of research into practice issue is to evaluate the alignment of the computer-based learning materials with the state and national curriculum standards. The California Instructional Technology Clearinghouse (CITC) provides a statewide example of such software evaluation. A nationwide approach to this task has been developed by a commercial company (MediaSeek).

There has been extensive research, including a number of meta-studies, in CAL. Indeed, Kulik (1994) is a study of the meta-studies. There are a wide range of types of CAL, such as drill and practice, tutorial, and simulations (including visual realities). In brief summary, the research on CAL indicates that it works with a broad range of students, grade levels, and subject areas. On average, over a huge number of studies, Kulik found that students learn about 30-percent faster and .35 standard deviations better (moving from the 50th percentile to the 64th percentile).

An ILS may be adopted by a school, school district, or even an entire state. Mann et al. (1999) reports on long term use of two different ILSs in West Virginia. Substantial gains in test scores were noted.

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Online Assessment

Online assessment is a common component of CAL systems. Each CAL system receives student input, evaluates it, and provides feedback to the students. In essence, this is a continuous assessment paradigm, and is less intrusive that summative evaluations given at the end of a unit of study. More complex CAL systems also include pretests and posttests. Such online assessments often make use of multimedia such as audio, video, animation, and color.

Online testing, which has been common in CAL for many years, has proven to be a forerunner of innovations in statewide and national assessment. ETS (1998) provides a vision of the future in which testing is available on demand (any time, anywhere). In this vision, computer-adaptive testing significantly decreases the time needed to make an accurate assessment. In computer-adaptive testing, the test questions are adapted to the performance level of the test taker, quickly narrowing in on questions that are appropriate to the level of knowledge of the test taker. Rudner (11/98) provides an excellent tutorial/example of computer adaptive testing.

In some cases, an online testing system can generate the test questions at the time they are to be delivered. For example, arithmetic computation problems can be generated by use of a random number generator. More common, however, is for the testing system to contain a databank of test items. Items in such a databank can be coded by subject area, instructional level, instructional objective measured, item difficulty, discriminating power, and so on. There is significant research on the development of appropriate test items for such databanks (Rudner, 1998). Although software exists for the storage and use of such item banks, the development of a good set of items is a major task. Thus, one tends to find most online testing systems have been developed commercially and/or through substantial outside grant support, rather than by individual teachers as part of their ongoing job.

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Final Remarks

Although CAL has a long history and is broadly used, in some sense CAL is still in its infancy. We are living at a time where significant research progress is occurring in learning theory and brain theory. We are beginning to develop useful levels of knowledge in the science of learning. The National Science Foundation is currently funding a variety of research projects in this area (NSF), especially in its Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence programs. Research in these areas will provide the underpinnings for continued improvements in CAL systems. Such improvements will likely lead to increasing use of CAL.

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References 

Becker, H. and Anderson, R. (1998 National Survey). Teaching, learning, and computing: A national survey of schools and teachers [Online]. Accessed: http://www.crito.uci.edu/tlc/html/tlc_home.html.

CITC. California Instructional Technology Clearinghouse [Online].Accessed: http://www.clearinghouse.k12.ca.us/.

Grace, C. (1992). The portfolio and its use: Developmentally appropriate assessment of young children. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed351150.html.

ETS (June 1998). Reinventing assessment: Speculations on the future of large-scale educational testing [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ets.org/research/pic/reinvtoc.html.

ETS (1999). Too much testing of the wrong kind; too little of the right kind in k-12 education [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ets.org/research/pic/testing/tmtoc.html.

Kulik, J.A. (1994). Meta-analytic studies of findings on computer-based instruction. In E.L. Baker and H.F. O'Neil, Jr. (Eds.). Technology assessment in education and training. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Lankes, A. (1995). Electronic portfolios: A new idea in assessment. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed390377.html.

Mann, D., Shakeshaft, C., Becker, J., and Kotthamp, R. (1999). West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education Program: An analysis of student achievement. Santa Monica, CA: Milken Family Foundation. [Online]. Accessed: http://www.milkenexchange.org/.

MediaSeek [Online]. Accessed: http://www.mediaseek.com/.

Moursund, D. (1996). Increasing your expertise as a problem solver: Some roles of computers. Eugene, OT: International Society for Technology in Education.

NSF. National Science foundation [Online]. Accessed: http://nsf.ed.gov/.

NWREL (1998). Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Catalog of school reform models: First edition [Online]. Accessed: http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/natspec/catalog/index.html.

Park, S. (June 1993). Cognitive psychology in education: Some implications of learning strategies for designing computer-assisted instruction. Ph.D. Dissertation: University of Oregon.

PCAST (March 1997). President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Report to the president on the use of technology to strengthen K-12 education in the United States. Washington DC: Author.

Rudner, L. (1998). Item banking. ERIC/AE Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed423310.html.

Rudner, L. (11/98). An on-line, interactive, computer adaptive testing mini-tutorial [Online]. Accessed: http://ericae.net/scripts/cat/catdemo.htm.

The National Commission on Excellence in Education (April 1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/title.html.

Wiggins, G. (1998). Educative assessment: designing assessments to inform and improve student performance San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wiggins, Grant P. (December 1996-January 1997). Practicing what we preach in designing authentic assessments. Educational Leadership. pp. 18-25.

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5. Research on Information Technology and Writing

Moursund, D. and Smith, I. (2000). Research on Information Technology and Writing. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

This document was developed with funds provided by The Learning Company School Division, and written by the Research, Development and Evaluation Department of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The opinions presented in this paper are the work of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion or policy of the International Society for Technology in Education or The Learning Company.

This is the fifth of a series of five reports. Dr. David Moursund and Dr. Irene Smith wrote the reports in the fall of 1999. A few small additions were made in fall 2000. The research reports are Copyright © 2000 by the International Society for Technology in Education. Reprinted with permission from ISTE. 800.336.5191 (U.S. & Canada) or 541.302.3777, cust_svc@iste.org, http://www.iste.org/. Reprint permission does not constitute an endorsement by ISTE of the product, training, or course.

 

Executive Summary

Reading and writing are long enduring technologies. Reading and writing have been aided by a wide range of physical technologies such as the development and mass production of paper and pencil, typewriter, and ball point pen. More recently, computer technology has added the benefits of word processors, high quality computer graphics, and laser printers to "traditional" reading and writing. Producing and accessing written information continues to benefit from new and improving techniques provided by the latest technology.

In addition to new writing tools, the technology field brings new environments for writers, such as e-mail and various Internet "chat" modes. Writers and readers benefit from the new dimensions being added to reading and writing in interactive, multimedia documents. Writers can make use of computer technology to publish professional quality documents in both paper and electronic format.

It is relatively easy to determine that the changes in reading and writing are improvements for both readers and writers. It is less easy to determine if these same changes are improving the learning that occurs when students read and write with these new tools. The question of improved benefits for students is still being researched. Do students read and write with greater skill as a result of the new tools? Do they learn better as a consequence of the new tools?

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Goals for IT Use in Writing

The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) profiles describe expectations for students completing various grade levels (ISTE). Here are a few examples related to written communication:

(PreK-2). Gather information and communicate with others using telecommunications, with support from teachers, family members, or student partners.

(PreK-2). Use input devices (e.g., mouse, keyboard, remote control) and output devices (e.g., monitor, printer) to successfully operate computers, VCRs, audio tapes, and other technologies.

(Grades 3-5). Use keyboards and other common input and output devices (including adaptive devices when necessary) efficiently and effectively.

(Grades 3-5). Use telecommunications efficiently and effectively to access remote information, communicate with others in support of direct and independent learning, and pursue personal interests.

(Grades 3-5). Use telecommunications and online resources (e.g., email, online discussions, Web environments) to participate in collaborative problem-solving activities for the purpose of developing solutions or products for audiences inside and outside the classroom.

(Grades 6-8). Design, develop, publish, and present products (e.g., Web pages, videotapes) using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom.

(Grades 6-8). Collaborate with peers, experts, and others using telecommunications and collaborative tools to investigate curriculum-related problems, issues, and information, and to develop solutions or products for audiences inside and outside the classroom.

The ISTE NETS call for students to learn to make effective use of the Internet beginning in the earliest grades. Many individual states have developed IT in education standards that include similar expectations (Developing Educational Standards; McREL). As with the ISTE NETS, often the expectation is that students have developed substantial Internet skills by the time they finish the eighth grade, and that they then routinely practice these skills while in high school.

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Learning to Read and Write

Research indicates clearly that reading and writing are related, but each presents distinct challenges to learners and their teachers. Large quantities of literature in this field exist. The Educational Resource Information Clearinghouse for Reading, English, and Communication, one of 16 such Clearinghouses, is devoted specifically to this topic. Reading and writing are part of the "basics" of education and are a central part of the standards-based education at the state and national level.

The 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress (ERIC-REC) summarizes student reading and writing levels throughout the country and compares results to previous similar studies. Findings from such studies tend to suggest that reading and writing are a continuing major challenge to our educational system. Fitzsimmons, 1998) reports:

How to teach reading has been the subject of much debate over the years. One reason may be because, to the reading public, reading seems to be a fairly easy and natural thing to do. However, this apparent ease masks the very real and complex processes involved in the act of reading.

The truth is that learning to read is anything but natural. In fact, it does not develop incidentally; it requires human intervention and context. While skillful readers look quite natural in their reading, the act of reading is complex and intentional; it requires bringing together a number of complex actions involving the eyes, the brain, and the psychology of the mind (e.g., motivation, interest, past experience) that do not occur naturally.

There are a variety of approaches to teaching reading. In recent years, there has been considerable controversy between two ends of a spectrum—whole language and phonics (Raven, 1997). An important potential of IT as an aid to teaching reading is that a particular research-based theory of reading instruction can be incorporated into the computer-based instructional materials. Indeed, one useful criteria in the evaluating of reading software is to examine what theory of reading it espouses and how this aligns with your personal preferences and the preferences of your school or school district. Moreover, think about the fact that some students will be best helped by a phonetic approach to reading, while others will be best helped by a whole language approach. Both approaches, as well as blended approaches, could be made available to students through appropriate CAL.

It is well understood that writing is a process, and that this process can be taught. Process writing consists of an iterative use a set of steps such as brainstorming, organizing the brainstormed ideas, developing a draft, obtaining feedback, revising, and publishing. Lehr (1998) emphasizes the role of revision in writing. Indeed, a number of researchers indicate that the key to good writing is "revise, revise, revise." Because the word processor is such a powerful aid to revision, many people believe that computers and a word processor should be a routine tool available to students.

Simic (1994) indicates that research strongly supports the importance of students doing a lot of writing in many different environments. Such findings support writing across the curriculum. They also support students writing using e-mail and in Internet chat environments, and other approaches that students find to be intrinsically motivating.

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Reading, Writing, and School Reform

NWREL (1998) discusses 64 research-based school reform models. All whole-school reform models include major emphasis on reading and writing. Ten of the 64 models discussed in NWREL (1998) place special emphasis on language arts, especially at the elementary school level.

The emphasis on reading and writing in school reform&endash;especially at the elementary school level&endash;is in line with research on the central role that reading and writing play in learning. A student who falls significantly below grade level in reading and writing faces an uphill battle in learning in all of the academic disciplines emphasized in our educational system. Because of this, many of the educational interventions at the PreK&emdash;2 level focus on identifying students who are at risk of not gaining basic skills in these areas, and then intervening in ways that break this emerging pattern that will likely lead to subsequent failure in school. While such interventions tend to be heavily labor intensive, well-researched software now exists that can help in the intervention. A good example of such research and the resulting instructional materials resulting from it is given in Young Children's Literacy Project.

A number of the school reform models make some use of IT in their implementation. Generally speaking, all school reform models are faced by the problem of translating education research into practice. Professional development, the development of materials that align with the teaching models, and other approaches are commonly used. IT is increasingly seen as an additional aid to implementing research-based models of school reform.

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IT and "Traditional" Writing Goals

Although findings from individual studies vary, meta-studies and surveys of the research on computer use in writing supports the contention that students tend to write more and better (Bangert-Drowns, 1993; Lehr, 1995). Much depends on student skills in using the IT facilities. For example, poor keyboarding skills and inadequate access to computers stand in the way of computers helping a student's writing.

A modern word processor includes a spelling checker, a grammar checker, and an outliner. Over the years, these aids to writing have been gradually improved. Tools such as these are creating a dilemma for our educational system. To what extent should students be taught to use these tools—and then allowed to use them in writing and testing situations? Russell (1999) explores use of computers by students taking written tests. Even when spelling and grammar checkers are not allowed, students who are fluent in writing using a word processor gain a significant advantage when allowed to use a computer in this type of writing assessment.

By and large, we are still at a phase in which it is considered "cheating" for a student to be allowed to use a spelling checker or grammar checker when taking a written test. This is, of course, a sign that we have a long way to go in adopting authentic assessment (Wiggins, 1993). We teach students to write making full use of the tools in a word processing environment. But, we do not allow full use of the tools in assessment. There appears to be a strong parallel with the slow acceptance of allowing students to use calculators when taking tests. It is only in recent years that calculators have been allowed on a variety of national and statewide assessments.

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IT Adds New Dimensions to Writing

E-mail is a writing environment that is different from traditional writing environments. Via e-mail, a writer can interact quickly (indeed, even in an interactive mode) with people throughout the world. A writer can send short messages and as well as long documents to many people simultaneously. With e-mail, it is easy to include a copy of pervious messages that have been exchanged, and to intersperse comments in response to a message within the body of a just-received message.

E-mail tends to be motivating to many students because of its informality and the possibility of relatively quick response. As with any genre of writing, e-mail tends to have particular purposes or uses. Over the years, a set of guidelines (often called netiquette) for appropriate e-mail writing have been developed (Hinchliffe, 1996).

Internet "chat" environments such as Internet relay chat (Simpson, 1999) provide another motivating environment in which students write with a purpose. Such a chat environment can be used as an aid to cooperative learning and to groups doing IT-assisted project-based learning.

Interactive text (hypertext) and multimedia provide other writing environments. Many elementary teachers have helped their students to develop such interactive documents. Often such documents are published on the web. Students tend to find this to be highly motivational. Appropriate design is an essential feature of a high quality hypermedia document (Smith & Yoder, 1998).

IT has completely changed the publishing industry. The Macintosh computer and inexpensive laser printer introduced in 1984 made it possible for large numbers of people to do professional quality desktop publication of their writing. Simic (1993) and ERIC Digest (1998) stress the motivational value and authenticity of students being able to publish their writing. However, there is far more to high quality desktop publication than just adding a few graphics to a document, making use of multiple fonts, and then printing on a laser printer. The design of a document is an important component of its effectiveness as a communication vehicle (Yoder & Smith, 1995).

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Computer Input Devices

Historically, microcomputers and keyboarding for input have been inextricably intertwined. As microcomputers began to come into schools, it became evident that students of all ages could benefit from developing both speed and accuracy in keyboarding. However, keyboarding has many drawbacks. It takes substantial and intensive training and practice to develop a level of skill (perhaps 25 words per minute) that becomes procedural knowledge in one's brain and that endures over the years.

The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards for students (ISTE) includes keyboarding in the profiles for grades PreK-2 and grades 3-5. Thus, educational leaders are left with one of the typical dilemmas that emerge during times of rapidly changing technology. How much student learning time and effort should be put into keyboarding when voice recognition is now a viable alternative that is apt to replace most keyboarding during the next decade (Kurzweil, 1999)?

Voice input is an example of progress in the field human-computer interface. Marchionini (1991) summarizes major ideas in human-computer interface:

The interface includes both physical and conceptual components. PHYSICAL COMPONENTS include input devices such as keyboards, mice, touch panels, joy sticks, speech recognizers, eye trackers, and data gloves; and output devices such as visual displays and sound or speech synthesizers. CONCEPTUAL COMPONENTS include selection methods such as command languages, menus, or direct manipulation; and representation schemes such as screen layout and graphic/text mixes.

The field of human-computer interaction (HCI) is concerned with interface design and is highly interdisciplinary in nature. It involves researchers from psychology, computer science, information science, engineering, education, and communications. A central concern of HCI research is to determine the effects of human physical, cognitive, and affective characteristics on the interactions between users and computers for specific tasks. Thus, HCI researchers develop models of human activity and use these models in designing new interfaces.

One of the goals in human-computer interface is to make the interface "natural," easy to learn to use, and easy to use. The mouse as a pointing and selection device has these characteristics. Voice recognition&endash;more generally, natural language input and output&endash;is certainly a "natural" human-machine interface. Voice input systems have come into widespread use by professionals (e.g. writers, doctors) and people with handicapping conditions that prevent them from using other forms of input. By and large, our K-12 educational system has not yet addressed the issue of students learning to use voice-input systems as an aid to learning reading and writing, or as an aid to writing. Increasingly, students will have access to voice input systems at home, since the software now retails for under $100 and will run on the types of microcomputers that people are now buying for home use.

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Final Remarks

IT is a significant aid to students learning reading and writing. Moreover, IT brings a number of new dimensions to writing, such as the potential for high quality desktop publication, communicating using the Internet, and developing interactive multimedia documents. In all of these endeavors, the goal is to help students achieve a better quality education.

To a large extent, IT supports increased authenticity of student writing. It emphasizes effective communication as a higher-order skill and as an aid to problem solving. Moreover, many students find that communicating for a purpose and being able to produce high quality products is intrinsically motivating.

Continued rapid improvements in IT capabilities and improvements in educational software present a major challenge to educators. The need for ongoing professional development in this field is evident.

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References

Bangert-Drowns, R. L. (1993). The word processor as an instructional tool: A meta-analysis of word processing in writing instruction. Review of Educational Research. 63(1), 69-93.

ERIC Digest (1998). Developing language proficiency and connecting school to students' lives: Two standards for effective teaching. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed424790.html.

ERIC-REC. Educational Resources Information Clearinghouse: Reading, English, and Communications [Online]. Accessed: http://www.indiana.edu/~eric_rec/.

Fitzsimmons, Mary K. (1998). Beginning reading. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed418515.html.

Hinchliffe, L. (1996). Helping early childhood teacher education students learn about the Internet. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed395714.html

ISTE. International Society for Technology in Education Standards Projects [Online]. Accessed: http://www.iste.org/Standards/. This web site contains IT standards for both preservice teachers and for PreK-12 students.

Kurzweil (1999). The age of spiritual machines: When computers exceed human intelligence. NY: Viking.

Logan, Robert K. (2000). The sixth language: Learning a living in the computer age. Toronto, Canada: Stoddart Publishing Company.

Lehr, F. (1995). Revision in the writing process. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed379664.html.

Marchionini, G. (1991). Psychological dimensions of user-computer interfaces. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/
ed337203.html.

McREL (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory). The McREL standards database [Online]. Accessed: http://198.17.205.11/standards-benchmarks/.

NWREL (1998). Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Catalog of school reform models: First edition. [Online]. Accessed: http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/
natspec/catalog/index.html.

Raven, J. (1997). Phonics and whole language: Friends or foes? [Abstract ERIC_NO: ED413583 Online] Accessed: http://ericir.syr.edu/plweb-cgi/fastweb?
getdoc+new-ericdb+new-ericdb+32703+12+
wAAA+%28phonics%29%26AND%26%28.

Russell, M. (June 1999). Testing on computers: A follow-up study comparing performance on computer and on paper. Education Policy Analysis Archives [Online]. Volume 7 Number 20. Accessed: http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v7n20/.

Simic, M. (1993). Publishing children's writing. ERIC Digest[Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed363884.html.

Simic, M. (1994). Computer assisted writing instruction. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed376474.html.

Simpson, C. (1999). Internet relay chat. ERIC Digest [Online]. Accessed: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed425743.html.

Smith, I., and Yoder, S. (1998). On the web or off: Hypermedia design basics. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Wiggins, Grant P. (1993). Assessing student performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Yoder, S., and Smith, I. (1995). Lookin' good! The elements of document design for beginners. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Young Children's Literacy Project [Online]. Accessed 12/17/00: http://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/ctrs/ltc/WilliamsS/yklp/
Webs/YKLP/frames1.htm.

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