Obtaining Resources Home Page

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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E


Index (Search Engine)

Moursund's Websites

Chapter 2: Computer-Related Technology in Education

This chapter gives a brief overview of the field of computer-related technology in education.

Moursund, D.G. (2002). Obtaining resources for technology in education: A how-to guide for writing proposals, forming partnerships, and raising funds. Copyright (c) David Moursund, 2002.

Section Headings for Chapter 2

The Information Age

Educational Change

Goals for Technology in Education

Web-Based Resources for Computers in Education



This chapter gives a brief overview of the field of computer-related technology in education. An understanding of this background information is essential if you are going to write educational technology proposals. If your interest lies in writing proposals in other fields, you may want to limit your reading in this chapter to the sections on educational change and the Internet.

Additional overview information on the field of IT in education is available at http://otec.oregon.uoregon.edu. You might also want to browse some of Moursund's writings are listed at http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/dave/index.htm.

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The Information Age

Historians have identified four important eras in the development of human societies:

  • The Hunter-Gatherer Age
  • The Agricultural Age
  • The Industrial Age
  • The Information Age

We live in the Information Age, where computers are used as personal productivity tools and for entertainment. The Information Age has brought us such concepts and tools as telecommunications, the information superhighway, and the Internet. It is characterized by the availability of digitized information disseminated through multimedia such as television, audio and videotape, camcorders, compact discs, and digital tape. The Information Age has seen the development of hypermedia (computer-based, interactive multimedia) and groupware (productivity tools for groups of people working together).

The Information Age has also brought us a new way of "knowing, researching, and using" the various academic disciplines that we study in school. As an example, in 1998 one of the winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was a Computational Chemist. The prize was awarded for his work in computer modeling and simulation of chemicals and chemical processes. Nowadays, there are three major categories of scientists within each science discipline: Experimental Scientists, Theoretical Scientists, and Computational Scientists. The idea of "Computation" is also beginning to take hold in the Social Sciences.

The Information Age has shrunk our world and is helping to create a Global Village. It has changed business, industry, government, and education. This transformation has been fueled by rapid progress in computer-related technologies and telecommunications systems that link computers and other machines to each other and to people. The computer's role as a "mind" tool has further fueled change in the Information Age. One person who can use computers effectively can often do the work of several people who don't know how to use computers.

The Information Age has challenged our educational system. It has complicated the functions of teacher education and curriculum development. It has affected school funding and the decision-making processes that determine how school resources are allocated.

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Educational Change

Almost everybody agrees that education is important. Our political leaders are good at coming up with statements such as "the future of our nation lies in the minds of our children." However, there is less agreement on what constitutes an appropriate education and how to fund it.

Our educational system is a massive institution deeply rooted in the history and traditions of our nation, and thus, it is slow to change. It was not designed to deal with the rapid and continued pace of change in educational technology.

The result is that many students are not getting an education that adequately prepares them for adult life in the Information Age. Many teachers are working with archaic facilities where students learn archaic curriculum. Parents are frustrated that their children are not learning in an environment that is as technologically rich as their own work environments. Leaders in business and government have expressed concern that our educational system is failing to meet the needs of commerce and the nation.

There has been a great deal of research on educational change (Fullan, 1991). If you are writing proposals designed to help improve education--that is, to produce educational change--you need to be familiar with some of the literature in this field. Probably the single most important idea in the educational change literature is the need to have a firm and long-lasting commitment from the key stakeholder groups. It takes three to five years of effort to produce a significant and lasting change in an educational system. Generally, projects that lack broad-based, long-term support will not produce significant and lasting change.

Such findings by Fullan and others are very important to proposal writers. For example, suppose you want to improve science education in a middle school by acquiring 12 microcomputers and placing 6 of them in each of the two science classrooms. As far as you are concerned, the project's purpose is to acquire the hardware (and perhaps some software) and place it in the classrooms.

However, this will probably have little impact on the science education that students receive. The people who will evaluate your proposal are familiar with the educational change literature and will probably reject your proposal because it does not address the broader issues that are essential to producing significant and long-lasting educational change.

The proposal evaluators will seek answers to a number of questions. For example, will the teachers receive adequate training and technical support? How does your proposed project fit in with the school's and school district's long-range technology plan? What curriculum materials will be developed or purchased? How will curriculum changes be implemented? How will students be evaluated? Will the computer use be consistent with and supportive of statewide and district testing? How will the computer use help students meet district, state, and national standards for Information and Communications Technology? Who will maintain the computers and replace them when they wear out? Do the science department, school administration, and school district support the use of computers in the science curriculum? Do the school board members and parents support this change in science education? A proposal that adequately addresses these issues will have a much better chance of being funded.

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Goals for Information Technology in Education

The history of computer use in education is quite long. Much of the early work in developing electronic digital computers was done in university research settings. As computers came into use in colleges and universities, their application quickly spread to the precollege level. Thus, by 1960 there was already some instructional use of computers in some schools.

The commonly used term computer literacy, coined in the early 1970s, originally referred to the ability to write simple computer programs to accomplish academic tasks. Later, the term encompassed a knowledge of computer vocabulary, computer capabilities, and computer limitations. More recently, the term has come to mean knowledge and skill in using basic computer tools such as word processors, databases, spreadsheets, graphics, and telecommunications.

In response to these developments, many schools have established the achievement of computer literacy among students as one of their curriculum goals. However, the definition of computer literacy is now somewhat dated. Goals for computer-related technology in education have broadened into areas that had not been conceived of 30 years ago. Today, computer literacy usually refers to a working knowledge of the computer as a tool to help solve problems and accomplish tasks encountered at school, work, and play.

Moreover, the expectations about computer literacy among students are changing. As computer hardware and software become more powerful, it is assumed that educational institutions will help students learn to use this hardware and software. As computers have become more readily available, the computer literacy expectation for students--even in the primary grades--has risen.

In 1998, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) published National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students. These standards specify what students should know and be able to do by the end of the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 12th grades. In 2000 ISTE published NETS for Teachers, and in 2002 they will publish NETS for School Administrators. Such national standards help to provide a solid foundation (are part of the Needs Assessment) for many types of Information and Communications Technology proposals. A number of states, individual school districts, and individual schools have adopted the various ISTE standards, or modifications thereof.

The following 11 items summarize a set of goals for technology in education. The list was specifically designed for precollege education settings. It has been adapted and updated from an earlier list (Moursund, 1992). The goals reflect what the education community must achieve if students are to be adequately prepared for adult citizenship in the 21st century.

When you are working to obtain resources for IT in education, you will want to pay careful attention to the goals for IT in education. You want to obtain resources to accomplish one or more specific goals. Keep in mind that there are other ways to represent or state these goals. For example, the International society for Technology in Education has developed National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Pre K-12 students, for teachers, and for school administrators.

1. Computer Literacy: All students shall be functionally computer literate. Functional computer literacy can be divided into two major parts:

  1. A relatively broad-based, interdisciplinary, general knowledge of applications, capabilities, limitations, and societal implications of computers and other information technology. This level of knowledge should be achieved by the end of the eighth grade. It has six components:
    1. Talking knowledge and reading knowledge of computers and other information technology and their effects on our society. Every discipline students study should include instruction on how electronic aids can be used for information processing and problem solving in that specific discipline.
    2. Knowledge of the concept of effective procedures, representation of procedures, roles of procedures in problem solving, and a broad range of examples of the types of procedures that computers can execute.
    3. Basic skills in the use of word processing, database, computer graphics, spreadsheet, and other general-purpose, multidisciplinary application packages. Basic skills in creating hypermedia materials as aids to communicating and to storing and processing information. Basic skills in designing effective communications in these computer environments.
    4. Basic skills in using telecommunications to communicate with people. The ability to make effective use of computerized databases and other sources of information located locally (for example, in a school library, a school district library, or a local community library) and throughout the world.
    5. Basic knowledge of hardware and skills in working with it. Knowledge of electronic and other hardware components and how they function. The level of knowledge should be high enough to "dispel the magic." Knowledge of the functionality of hardware so that one can detect and correct minor difficulties, such as various components not being plugged in, not receiving power, or not being connected, and the printer being out of paper.
    6. Basic skills in computer input. Currently, keyboarding is still the dominant computer input method students use. However, using scanners to input graphics is now common, as is using probes and other instrumentation in science labs. Voice input and pen-based input systems are rapidly gaining in importance.
  2. Deeper knowledge of computers and other information technologies as they relate to the specific disciplines and topics studied in high school. Here are some examples:
    1. Skill in creating hypermedia documents. This includes considerable emphasis on the design of effective communications for use in both print and electronic media. It includes a functional level of knowledge of both desktop publishing and desktop presentation.
    2. Skill in using computers as problem-solving aids in the various disciplines. For example, a student taking advanced math courses shall learn about using computers for these courses' subject areas. A student studying commercial art shall learn about the computer's role in that field. Industrial arts students shall learn about computer-aided design. Science courses shall include instruction about microcomputer-based laboratories and computer simulations in science.
    3. Skill in computer-mediated, collaborative, interdisciplinary problem solving. This includes students gaining the communication skills needed to work in a computer-mediated problem-solving environment.

2. Computer-Assisted Learning: This area is also called computer-assisted instruction, or CAI. Education shall use computer-assisted learning (CAL), when it is pedagogically and economically sound, to increase student learning and to broaden the students' range of learning opportunities. CAL includes drill and practice, tutorials, simulations, and microworlds. It also includes computer-managed instruction (see item C below).

  1. All students shall learn general applications for computers as aids to learning and specific ways CAL can be useful. They shall become experienced users of CAL systems. The intent shall be to focus on having students learn to investigate problems, become responsible for their own learning, and become lifelong learners. Students have their own learning styles, so different types of CAL will fit those styles to greater or lesser degrees.
  2. CAL shall be an integral component of the educational system when it is a cost-effective and educationally sound aid to student learning. For example, CAL can help some students learn certain types of material significantly faster than can conventional instructional techniques. Such students should have the opportunity to use CAL as one aid to learning. In addition, CAL can provide educational opportunities that might not otherwise be available. A school can expand its curriculum by delivering some courses largely via CAL.
  3. Computer-managed instruction (CMI) includes record keeping, diagnostic testing, and prescriptive guides about what to study and in what order. This type of software is useful both to students and teachers. Students should have the opportunity to track their own progress in school and understand the rationale behind the work they are doing. CMI can reduce busywork.

3. Distance Education: Telecommunications and other electronic aids are the foundation for an increasingly sophisticated distance education system. Education shall use distance education, when it is pedagogically and economically sound, to increase students' opportunities for learning.

In many cases, distance education can be combined with CAL; therefore, there is not a clear dividing line between these two approaches to education. In both cases students are given an increased range of learning opportunities. The education may occur at a time and place convenient to the student rather than in a school's traditional course schedule. The choice and level of topics may be more under student control than in our traditional educational system.

4. Applications: The Computer as Tool: Computer applications as general-purpose aids to problem solving using word processor, database, graphics, spreadsheet, and other application packages shall be integrated throughout the curriculum. This is called computer-integrated instruction, or CII. Students shall receive specific instruction in the use of each of these tools, ideally before completing elementary school. The middle school or junior high school curriculum, as well as the high school curriculum, shall assume that students know how to use these tools and shall include specific additional instruction in their use. Throughout secondary school and in all higher education, students shall be expected to use these tools regularly, and teachers shall structure their curriculum and assignments to take advantage of and enhance student knowledge of the computer-as-tool.

5. Information Technology Courses: A high school shall provide the following two, more advanced, tracks of computer-related coursework.

  1. Computer-related coursework preparing the student who seeks employment immediately upon leaving school. For example, a high school business curriculum should prepare students for entry-level employment in a computerized business office. A graphic arts curriculum should prepare students to be productive in that field's computer-based graphic arts facilities. Increasingly, some of these courses are part of the Tech Prep (Technical Preparation) programs of study in schools.
  2. Computer science coursework designed to give students a solid college preparation introduction to the discipline of computer science. This includes problem solving in a computer programming environment.

6. Students With Special Needs: When research and practice have demonstrated its effectiveness, computer-related technology shall be routinely and readily available to students with special needs.

  1. Computer-based adaptive technologies shall be available to students who need such technology for communication with other people and/or for communication with a computer.
  2. When CAL with demonstrated effectiveness is available to help students with special learning needs, this CAL shall be made available to the students.
  3. All staff who work with special needs students shall have the knowledge and experience needed to assist them in the use of computer-based adaptive technologies, CAL, and computer tools.

7. Assessment: Student assessment systems shall reflect the student goals listed in items 1 to 6. For example, when students are being taught to write and solve problems in an environment that includes routine use of computers, they shall be assessed in such an environment.

8. Staff Development and Support: The professional education staff shall have computers to increase their productivity, make it easier for them to accomplish their duties, and support their computer-oriented growth. Every school district shall provide for staff development, and particular attention shall be paid to accomplishing goals 1 to 7. Teacher training institutions shall adequately prepare their teacher education graduates so that they can function effectively in a school environment having these goals.

This means, for example, that all teachers shall have access to computerized data banks, word processors, presentation graphics software, computerized gradebooks, telecommunications packages, and other application software that teachers have found useful in increasing their productivity and job satisfaction. Computer-based communication is becoming an avenue for teachers to share professional information. Every teacher should have telecommunications and desktop presentation facilities in the classroom. Computer-managed instruction (CMI) can help the teacher by providing diagnostic testing and prescription, access to item data banks, and aids to preparing individual educational plans (IEPs).

9. Facilities: The school district shall integrate adequate resources into its ongoing budget to provide the hardware, software, curriculum development, curriculum materials, staff development, and staff needed to accomplish the goals listed here.

10. Long-Term Commitment: The school district shall institutionalize computers in schools through the establishment of appropriate policies, procedures, and practices. Instructional computing shall be integrated into job descriptions, ongoing budgets, planning, staff development, work assignments, and other areas. Every school shall have a goal of increasing the functional computer literacy of its students and shall have appropriate methods for adequately assessing its students' functional computer literacy. The school district shall fully accept that computers are here to stay as an integral part of an Information Age school system.

11. Community-Wide Commitment: The community--the entire formal and informal educational system--shall support and work to achieve the goals listed in items 1 to 10.

Many educational technology grant proposals focus on one or more of the 11 goals. These goals can be worked on in both formal and informal education, and at all levels of education. Projects can center on curriculum development, evaluation, implementation, research, or some appropriate combination of these areas, and on one or more of these goals. They can focus on narrow audiences (for example, students with specific handicaps) or broad-based audiences. Projects can focus within a single discipline (for example, the role of computer technology in helping third-grade students learn musical composition) or cut across many disciplines (for example, the use of the Internet to retrieve information in all academic disciplines).

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Web-Based Resources for Computers in Education

One very important component of most funding proposals is a discussion of what is known about the problem being addressed. This means that you need to have knowledge about the literature in the field your proposal addresses.

There are many sources of information about education, technology in education, grants, and so on. In this book, contains contact information for a number of major granting organizations and agencies. provides relevant Internet addresses. Resources for Grant Writers and GrantsNet may prove to be particularly useful to you. Appendix G, References and Resources, is an annotated bibliography designed to help meet information needs of grant writers.

The Internet can be visualized as a huge collection of computers connected to each other by way of an extensive telecommunications system. The Internet is designed to facilitate reliable communication among people and computers. Many of the computers connected to the Internet contain documents and databases that can help a proposal writer.

Figure 2.1 shows major components of the Web. Think of yourself as a client (a person with a computer) seeking information. There may be thousands of clients all using the Web site at the same time. There are now hundreds of millions of clients who make use of the web.

Think of each of the server computers as containing documents and databases that might interest you. There are many millions of server computers. The interconnecting telecommunication system contains computers, telephone lines, fiber optics, satellite systems, microwave systems, and other telecommunications systems.

Figure 2.1. Diagram of the Web.

For this system to work, both the client computers and server computers have to follow a consistent set of software and electronic "rules." The World Wide Web (WWW) is a set of "rules" that has been developed for use by clients and servers. This set of rules contains specifications for documents that contain graphics, text, audio, video, and three dimensional graphics. The type of software needed to retrieve Web materials is called a browser.

The Web can be viewed as a Global Library that is rapidly growing in size. For example, the Google Search Engine now indexes over 1.6 billion Web pages. Some Web "experts" suggest that this is well under five percent of the total number of pages that are currently published to the Web.

By then end of 2002 there were approximately 500 million Web users from throughout the world. There is an emerging trend of Websites and Web users using languages other than English.

The Web-Global Library is unlike any library we have seen before. It has millions of authors. It has become common for students--even elementary school students--to have their own Websites. When one uses a browser to do a Web search, most often one gets a large number of "hits"--sites that may be relevant to your search. This places a major burden on the (human) searcher to sort out the the wheat from the chaff. It is not easy to learn to to make effective use of the Web--in essence, to develop some of the skills of a research librarian.

Here are two information retrieval approaches that might be helpful to you:

  • Try out several Search Engines until you find one that seems to work well with the way you think about the organization of stored information. Then use this Search Engine until you develop a comfortable level of expertise with it.
  • Identify and make use of several Websites that specialize in computers in education. Here are a couple that may prove to be good starting points for you:

    http://otec.uoregon.edu/. This Website was developed by David Moursund. The References page of this Website provides brief annotations plus links to a very large number of sites of interest to educators.

    http://www.iste.org/ This is the Website of the International Society for Technology in Education.

    http://www.ed.gov/pubs/collect.html. The US Department of Education provides many excellent information resources, including the ERIC System.

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  1. Select a school or some informal educational organization you know about. Analyze this institution by considering its uses of educational technology. Describe its successes and failures in terms of the outcomes you feel are appropriate and desirable. After completing your analysis, identify one or more specific problems the organization faces that might be the basis for writing a proposal. In carrying out this activity, you have been doing a needs assessment, which is often the starting point for writing a proposal.
  2. Select a stakeholder group such as a school district, school, classroom, or particular group of teachers or students. List some educational technology problems this stakeholder group faces but does not have adequate resources to overcome. (This is another needs-assessment activity. Proposal writing often begins with the identification of a problem to be solved. Practice identifying problems that might serve as a basis for a proposal.)
  3. Analyze your own level of computer literacy. Use this analysis as a basis for identifying a project that could help meet the computer literacy needs of people like yourself.
  4. Talk to a person who is successful in writing proposals. Summarize some of this person's suggestions about how to succeed in the proposal-writing business.
  5. Are you comfortable using the Internet or some other networking service to access information? Many people who write grant proposals routinely use these sources of information. Spend some time browsing the ERIC and ISTE information sources, looking for information relevant to your grant-writing interests.

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