Guest Editorial (untitled)
by Dr. Jan Davidson Davidson and Associates, Inc. As educators, one of our most important responsibilities is to prepare our students for success in the workplaces of tomorrow. These Information Age workplaces will be very different than those of the Industrial Age. Information Age workplaces will move at a rapid pace, continually changing to meet the needs of their customers. Workers will need to master a new set of skills: working efficiently in teams, effectively solving problems and being able to assume responsibility for their work. They will need strong analytical skills, broad communication abilities and the flexibility to accomplish a wide variety of job tasks. Facile Users of Technology Technology will be at the forefront of this change. For our students to be successful in this world, they must be facile users of technology. Moreover, they must also know how to maximize the power of technology. Productivity will result not only from knowing where to find information, but also being able to analyze it, use it for problem-solving and effectively present it. The success of our students in tomorrow's world requires that technology be an integral part of today's curriculum. Unfortunately, this is not the case today. Many of our schools still rely on the textbook as the primary medium to deliver instruction. The textbook is really out of place in the Information Age. With knowledge doubling every three to four years, the textbook is limited as a useful tool for learning. And because it is out-of-date, there will be an evolution of instructional materials in the next few years. Early signs of this evolution appeared in the 1980s, when computer software began being used in schools. However, that software was only supplemental to the "real work" going on in the classroom instead of being the basis for instruction. As a result, instructional materials were anything but current, exciting and relevant. In the 1990s, there's more software and lots of it. Textbooks often include software correlated to them. In fact, in the recent California math adoptions, all materials adopted had technology components. New Standard Is Evolving Moving forward, core curriculum materials that are technology-driven, rather than textbook-driven, will become the standard. This is already beginning to happen. For instance, California, in partnership with Florida and Texas, has contracted with Addison-Wesley Publishing and Davidson & Associates, Inc. to create a U.S. history/social studies multimedia curriculum for the middle grades. This product -- entitled Vital Links -- is a milestone in the movement toward integrating multimedia into mainstream curriculum. I believe that once we overcome our reliance on the printed page, virtually all curriculum materials will be delivered by technology. Technology can allow curriculum materials to be delivered over the Super Information Highway, every day. It will be up-to-date, relevant and accessible. Students will not only have information at their fingertips, they will have the tools to analyze, interpret and communicate. Shouldn't we prepare our Information Age students with the tools of the Information Age? To do any less, I fear, will be to not prepare them at all. Dr. Jan Davidson is a nationally recognized authority on educational issues and a leader in educational technology. She is the president and founder of Davidson & Associates, Inc., an educational software company known for best-selling titles such as Kid CAD, Kid Works, The Multimedia Workshop, The Cruncher, English Express, Story Club and many others that have been the standard in schools since 1982.
This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.