Greater enthusiasm for using technology is resulting in the growth of activities internationally at all levels of education. The number of participants at international conferences is increasing and the varieties of projects are expanding.
More Interest Globally
For example, at the TelEd Fourth International Conference on Telecommunications in Education in December 1995, a number of participants reported on advantages of sharing information among students in countries such as New Zealand, The United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, Australia and the United States. Almost all projects internationally oriented result in development of social and communication skills among students from different cultures.
Henry J. Becker, Dept. of Education, University of California, Irvine, reporting on a survey of schools using the Internet stated the greatest value was not only access to greater amounts of variety of relevant information, but the cross-cultural exchanges that result.
However, the same problems still exist: Insufficient telephone lines, hardware and software; greater workload on the teachers; insufficient educational applications; lack of support; and funding that is outside the normal educational budget.
In Foreign Lands
In most developed countries, educational systems include some form of computer education.
Almost all European projects are "computer-assisted" activities rather than projects involving access of online databases or exchange of scientific data among students.
In Japan, a 1994 report titled "Toward the Intelligent Society of the 21st Century" proposed that the country should be completely networked with fiber optics by the year 2010 in order to upgrade the nation's multimedia environment and create 2,430,000 jobs in the estimated $1.15 trillion multimedia market of 2010.
The Netherlands have used computers in education since 1982. Many projects have been very ambitious and well publicized; some of them are completed but many are ongoing. The Dutch educational system is stressing developing in students "the ability to acquire skills and knowledge independently." Use of technology fits in well with their teaching objectives.
Universities in China are exploring ways of using technology in education. At an annual growth of about 20%, the electronics industry in China contributed 11.2% of all electronics imported by the U.S. Education is rebounding after the setbacks of the Cultural Revolution. Many of the country's intellectuals were persecuted and a very small number &emdash; less than 2% &emdash; received a university education; a great number of the population is considered semi-literate or illiterate. Out of concern for family growth, the government has restricted families to one child each, except in rural areas and among some minorities. Use of technology for education is being seriously considered.
The need to assist developing countries on the proper use of technology in education is the primary purpose of the second International UNESCO Congress on Education and Informatics to be held in Moscow, July 1996, organized in cooperation with the Russian Federation of the Lomonossov University, Moscow.
The main objectives of the Congress are "to analyze national, regional and international trends and experiences in the introduction and use of new information technology; to review the latest developments; to discuss international, regional and national policies; and to make recommendations for international cooperation."
Dr. M. Thomas, University of Texas at Austin and I are honored to be the two members of the Program Committee representing the U.S. As usual for UNESCO International Congress, approximately 1,000 participants will be invited. Specialists from public and private institutions, including decision-makers, researchers, teacher-trainers, industrial trainers, university professors, school teachers and other educational personnel. In conformity with regulations for International Congresses, UNESCO d'es not cover the travel and subsistence expenses of the participants.
A report from the Conference will be available &emdash; recommending specific proposals for exchange and sharing of information experience, research, teacher training, software, courseware and other materials.
Looking Ahead in 1996
We can look forward in 1996 to many international activities concerned with the use of technology in education. J. Foster describes one in his article in this issue. We can all learn from each other.
This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.