ROUND-UP: THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS
Following are experts who can discuss the use of technology in schools. According to an Education Department report, although more schools are using technology to offer tutoring, track student performance and increase communication between parents and teachers, educators still lack training and understanding about how computers can be used to help students:
**1. STEVE PEHA, president of TEACHING THAT MAKES SENSE, INC., a provider of tools, training, and technology support for K-12 schools in reading, writing, math, test preparation and assessment: "Why do some schools still debate the usefulness of technology? Because the usefulness of technology in schools is still debatable. Most major longitudinal studies of the impact of technology on student learning are inconclusive. So it's hard to argue that giving every kid a laptop will make a big difference in how well they learn to read, write and think. On the teacher side, the most commonly used technology is e-mail. And while just about everyone agrees that e-mail is beneficial, the benefits have yet to accrue in the two areas teachers care about most -- making their teaching lives easier and their students' lives more learned."
**2. JON BOWER, CEO of LEXIA LEARNING SYSTEMS, a provider of software to help young children learn to read and help older students and adults improve their reading skills: "Technology has a crucial role to play in our schools. Unfortunately, it has little to do with the integrated learning systems, Internet access and technology courses that are usually provided to our children. In fact, most independent studies of the effects of those additions during the last 10 years can't find any. The best role of technology in our schools is to help our children's teachers and administrators do their jobs better. Teachers need measurement tools so that they know who needs to learn what. They need databases that track progress from the assessments in real time, not just at the end of the year. When students work on skill development applications instead of workbooks, their teachers receive reports that highlight problem areas and track progress. The databases generate reports that highlight skill acquisition at the level that teachers teach, rather than in terms of grade level."
**3. BILL BENOIT, co-founder of VIDERE CONFERENCING, a provider of video, audio and Web conferencing: "There are two issues preventing widespread deployment of technology in the classroom. The first is confusion over the exploding number of options, and the second is ease of use for teachers to apply the technology in the classroom setting. Administrators can be scared away by the cost of a high-end videoconferencing system, but when you tell them about electronic white boards that eliminate the need for a classroom full of PCs, they listen. For teachers, a straightforward user interface to control the system is key. If there is learning curve for teachers, they will not be active users, and the schools will not see the ROI they expected."
**4. NADINE GELBERG, of GETCHARGED, a non-profit foundation that encourages people to be physically active and intellectually challenged through a series of creative programs: "We view technology that is efficient and safe as good. It alters the social landscape in ways we fail to discuss. Academicians endlessly debate curriculum changes that eliminate spelling and grammar, yet we accept computers in classrooms without asking about the impact on learning basic skills. Technology provides short-term fixes to problems, but these fixes aren't the best way to address complex issues in schools. Until we grasp the interaction of technology and society, and realize that easier is not always better, we'll implement band-aid solutions and later wonder why we have an infection."
**5. FRANCIE ALEXANDER, vice president and chief academic officer of SCHOLASTIC INC.: "Our extensive research has shown that technology can be a powerful learning tool and plays an important role in the classroom. High- quality software programs are adaptive and can motivate students to learn, offer individualized instruction, provide immediate corrective feedback, and present extensive data that identifies each student's strengths/weaknesses to inform future lessons and easily track growth throughout the school year. Technology can also be infinitely patient and non-judgmental, allowing students to try, fail and try again until they master a new skill. When purchasing software, schools must be cognizant that programs are research- based, developmentally appropriate, and offer components that are universally designed to be supportive of students with special needs and English-language learners."
**6. ROBERT WEIDEMAN, senior vice president of the productivity applications business unit at SCANSOFT, a provider of speech and imaging solutions, works closely with customers to pinpoint their technology needs: "One of the things I hear consistently from customers in the education sector is the need for solutions that are rich in features, scalable across the district, and easy to install, deploy and maintain "- all while meeting tight budget parameters." Weideman has partnered successfully with educational customers by helping them identify their key document management needs and then working with them to implement affordable software that will enable them to achieve their goals.
**7. PATRICIA C. COLLINS, senior staff consultant for VERIZON ENTERPRISE SOLUTIONS GROUP: "Verizon is seeing unprecedented demand from school districts around the country for advanced network technology that keeps everyone connected. The benefits include distance learning, direct communications between teachers and parents, better security with instant communications and self-paced desktop videos. It's critical that educators fully understand how to use computers and the Internet to their fullest classroom advantage. To achieve that, Verizon has partnered with Texas A&M to offer an educators' certification program at their Center for Distance Learning Research. It's a way to 'teach the teachers' how to incorporate technology into their curriculum. Participants are eligible for continuing education units from Texas A&M."
**8. ELLEN SANTORA, assistant professor of teaching and curriculum and social studies education at the UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER's Warner School of Education: "The answer is complex, but stems from ignorance on the part of many administrators and teachers about how computers and other new technologies can support learning. Computers sit unused in many classrooms while those same teachers use computers at home for a variety of tasks, including resources for student learning experiences. Professional development for teachers generally has shown them how to use specific software rather than how to apply that knowledge to planning for discipline-based or interdisciplinary learning experiences." Santora developed and got a federal grant called Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers for Technology.
**9. ANTHONY MAHER, president and CEO of PCS EDVENTURES, an educational system that combines Internet tools with hands-on projects with assessment for engineering, physics, architecture, chemistry, robotics, electricity, chess and more, is an expert on the paradigm shift taking place at schools that necessitates changes in how programs are taught, technology is integrated and students are assessed. Maher has overseen the development of innovative technology curriculum that incorporates hands-on projects with online interactive assessment programs: "Synergy between in-classroom projects and online assessment is a must in today's education system, where teachers are often challenged by meeting higher standards while receiving less financial support. Schools must look at creative curriculum that teaches a spectrum of skills under the umbrella of one program."
**10. BILL KELLY, CEO of LEARNING.COM: "Schools will have a tension between spending on technology and core curriculum until they have a methodology in place to achieve true technology integration. Students can use technology to enhance their learning in core subjects with e-mail, word processing, the Web and spreadsheets -— the same tools we use everyday in the business world. And students who use technology in this way will be prepared to function well in the 21st century. Once schools have a cost-effective way to deliver, assess and integrate these skills, they will begin to see ways to justify ongoing investment in computer technology."
**11. BARBARA ROSENFELD, assistant professor of education at BROOKLYN COLLEGE: "Technology tools are important classroom resources, but their use varies widely across the nation. The Internet offers rich resources for students, but naysayers point to the misinformation and inappropriate sites that exist. Schools that are focused on raising test scores may not understand how technology tools can be helpful in developing student learning. In too many instances, money is allocated for the equipment with little regard to training and maintenance. Teachers need easy access to the technology and continuing, hands-on training and support. Without administrative endorsement, technology will not be valued in a school."
**12. CINTA PUTRA, co-founder and CEO of the NATIONAL NOTIFICATION NETWORK (3N), a provider of emergency notification systems: "It's easy to understand why schools debate the usefulness of technology. Many times it's confusing, expensive and hard to implement. That's why mass notification technology is so refreshing. It's useful, easy to use and cost-effective. When parents place the care of their child in the hands of a school, they expect to be informed in the most efficient manner possible if something happens to that child or to the school. Mass notification technology has proven effective in critical and non-emergency situations. Schools have utilized such systems for uses ranging from parent meetings, weather alerts, school closures and emergencies."
**13. DR. DEBORAH HARRISON, president of the UNITED STATES DISTANCE LEARNING ASSOCIATION (USDLA) and the director of education markets for TANDBERG, INC., can discuss the many uses of videoconferencing in the classroom and technology trends in education: "While some schools and educators continue to struggle to incorporate computers into the classroom, many teachers have embraced new videoconferencing technology. Unlike many computer programs, video communications allows students to interact with people and places unimaginable previously. Teachers contend that children need more access to the humanities, the arts, etc., but many schools have cut these areas for financial reasons. Videoconferencing helps reinsert these areas into the curriculum. And, unlike a CD-ROM, videoconferencing is live and interactive."
**14. DR. GLYNN D. LIGON, president and CEO of ESP SOLUTIONS GROUP, a major contributor to the U.S. Department of Education's recently unveiled National Education Technology Plan: "Many administrators talk about data-driven decision making like it is easily attained. For real D3M to take place, an education agency has to have integrated systems talking with each other and sharing data. The reality is that most district and state systems do not talk to each other in a meaningful way. When data systems are linked and interoperable, school districts and states save money, reduce administrative burden and improve student performance."
**15. DAVID C. BLOOMFIELD, ESQ., chair of educational leadership at BROOKLYN COLLEGE: "Decision-makers are often unfamiliar with technology. Educational technology has been oversold, and technology takes time. Every phase of educational technology over the past 50 years has been promoted as an instant medium for student understanding. Technology is a tool that still requires informed human mediation. While funds are readily available, it takes time to develop materials and lessons, train teachers and students in its use, and to solve the inevitable operational problems that arise. Schools have not solved this time 'resource' problem, and until they do, technology will remain underutilized by American educators."
**16. TIM CONROY, executive vice president of K-12 services at THE PRINCETON REVIEW: "The main reason people debate the usefulness of technology is the cost of keeping on top of the game. It's not a one-time buy, but a constant cycle of upgrades, service and support. That's why it's important to look at educational solutions that have 'legs' to last, are scalable, can be maintained with minimal support and, most importantly, are part of a long-term technology plan."
**17. KEITH R. KRUEGER, CEO of the CONSORTIUM FOR SCHOOL NETWORKING: "Technology can have a profoundly transformative effect on teaching and learning. Some districts are fully leveraging this potential to create innovative learning environments for their students. However, in many cases, the potential of technology to fundamentally alter the learning environment has not been realized."
**18. JOHN BOLING is the director of SAS INSCHOOL, the educational technology division of SAS, a privately held software company. Boling has been involved with e-learning for many years, including heading up SAS inSchool's award- winning work of providing Web-based teaching and learning curricula focusing on the core subjects taught in grades 8-12, including English, social studies, science, mathematics and Spanish. Recently, SAS inSchool partnered with retired Cisco Executive Selby Wellman to issue a grant that put this software in every school in West Virginia, as well as Marshall University: "If schools were re-created today, they would have this kind of technology instead of paper and pencils. And it's happening now in West Virginia, rural Florida, North Carolina and Wyoming."
**19. LIZ PAPE, president and CEO of VIRTUAL HIGH SCHOOL, a provider of online education for high-school students and online course design for teachers, is an expert on education and technology: "Many schools view technology as a replacement for traditional offerings and, thus, competition. Also, some schools do not have technological expertise and are resistant to change, continuing to favor the old way of doing things."
**20. JON DEZELSKY, CEO of DREAM TEAM TECHNOLOGIES, INC., helps school systems identify and implement Web solutions. A former high-school teacher for 10 years, Dezelsky is an expert in addressing the needs of both teachers and administrators in terms of efficient usage of classroom technology and the creation of a successful Web presence for school districts: "The most important factor when it comes to technology in schools is ease of use. The latest and greatest in technology does little if teachers don't actually use it."
**21. MELINDA GEORGE is the executive director of the STATE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION (SETDA). Founded in the fall of 2001, SETDA was created to provide national leadership in educational technology to support achievement in lifelong learning, provide professional development for state education technology directors and build partnerships to advance learning opportunities through technology. Prior to joining SETDA, George was the director of the education division for the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). She was responsible for meeting the needs of SIIA education technology members by providing research, data and expert analysis of issues relating to education technology. George also worked as an education technology lobbyist for SIIA, working to secure ongoing and consistent funding for schools. For more than six years, George was the author of the SIIA State Technology Initiatives Report providing a state-by-state glance at the education technology initiatives occurring across the 50 states.
**22. EDMUND L. CORTEZ, president and CEO of the NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISABILITY SERVICES, has initiated partnerships with Teachers College of Columbia, Brooklyn College, and various public school districts to develop technology-based inclusion programs and distance learning opportunities for students with physical disabilities. The program through Brooklyn College is specifically aimed at tracking students through the public school. Cortez has also lent his expertise in harnessing technology internationally, most recently leading a delegation to China to consult with school officials in Beijing.
**23. BOB ONSI, general manager of education services at WEATHERBUG, can speak to the importance of technology in the classroom. Onsi heads up the WeatherBug Achieve program, which is an exclusive weather-gathering network of approximately 8,000 school-based weather stations and 1,000 weather cameras that generate neighborhood-level weather reports for use in school curricula.
**1. EDUCATION: WOMEN CAN SUCCEED IN ENGINEERING. SERITA ACKER, director of CLEMSON UNIVERSITY's Women in Science and Engineering program, can discuss the recent comments made by Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers: "Women don't lack capacity, they lack opportunity. This semester two women are stepping in to lead bioengineering and materials science at Clemson. These women not only bring intellectual talent, they bring the potential to break down barriers by showing young women that they can study engineering and become leaders in their field." WISE seeks to attract and retain women engineering majors. A recent article in PRISM magazine reported that Clemson University is fourth in the nation in percentage of engineering doctoral degrees granted to women.
**2. EDUCATION: HIGH-SCHOOL COUNSELORS SAY THEY LACK SKILLS TO ASSIST GAY, LESBIAN STUDENTS. MARTIN WOOD, professor of health education at BALL STATE UNIVERSITY: "The majority of school counselors in Indiana want more help from public schools and local communities to assist gay and lesbian teens during the often traumatic teen years. In a statewide survey of 118 high-school and middle-school counselors, I found that only 14.4 percent claim to possess adequate skills to assist gay and lesbian students deal with their problems. An overwhelming majority of counselors wanted access to more training and educational programs."
**3. SCIENCE: ADVANCED GROUND SENSOR DESIGNED TO WARN AGAINST GEOTECHNICAL HAZARDS. TAREK ABDOUN, associate director of RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE's Geotechnical Centrifuge Research Center, is leading a team of scientists to develop a wireless sensor designed to warn against geotechnical hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides and floods: "Recent advances in sensors and wireless networking technologies provide opportunities for new ways to detect and assess the impact of natural disasters. The new system is designed to enable a better understanding of ground failure mechanisms and has the potential to significantly reduce losses from natural disasters." The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and California's Department of Transportation are sponsoring the field implementation effort of Abdoun's new system.
**4. SCHOOL SAFETY: STUDENT SECURITY GOES HIGH-TECH. ROBERT L. SICILIANO, personal security expert for CHILDRENSECURITY.COM: "School-age children are being equipped with radio frequency identification tags and global positioning system technology that monitor the location of students in and out of school. IDs containing computer chips are read by cellular phones and monitored by proprietary software to locate a students whereabouts. It's scary to some like the ACLU and privacy advocates, but a godsend to others like frantic parents wondering if their child is kidnapped or at a friend's house. Is it 'Big Brother,' as in older brother, watching over you, or is 'Big Brother' taking away your freedom?"