By Dr. Sylvia Charp Editor-in Chief How to best integrate technology into the curriculum is still a major concern. However, the number of initiatives, many uncoordinated, driven by individuals who recognize the impact of technology on teaching and learning, has increased. As substantial amounts of resources and monies become available&emdash;to support the use of information technology in centralized decision making concerning hardware purchases, software spending, and teacher preparation&emdash;emphasis is on how to modify existing curriculum as well as introducing new curriculum. Administrators are encouraging interdisciplinary activities designed to facilitate student attainment of set goals and objectives. Students are provided with learning modules to meet their needs, abilities and interests. Cooperative learning and collaborative activities are encouraged. The increased use of CD-ROMs, videodiscs, networks and telecommunications is making this happen. But, the desired eventual diffusion of individual successful projects into systemic utilization is making slow progress. Successful Projects Abound Many examples can be found on how curriculum is being modified and on how project-oriented curriculum integrates various subject areas such as math, science and writing; social studies and science; and art and history. An important project is based on the recommendations of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which says that students should do science, not study it. Students should be taught to use the computer as scientists do&emdash;to store and retrieve data, communicate, help analysis, prepare tables and graphs, and to write summary reports. Based on those recommendations, the Global Lab Project has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Under the direction of Boris Berenfeld, senior scientist at TERC, Cambridge, Mass. and T.H.E. Editorial Advisory Board member, middle and high school students will engage in extensive scientific investigations of real-world problems for two semesters. Through electronic networking, the project is creating an extensive international community of students, teachers and scientists. The sequence of activities is to progress from qualitative to quantitative, from individual to collaborative. A semester of research preparation is followed by one of research participation. Key features of the project stress collaboration, need for sharing data, international research, and the advantages of easy-to-use networking and communication devices.
Many national curriculum and technology-oriented organizations are promoting appropriate uses of technology to assist in curriculum development and presentation. Among others these groups include CAUSE, EDUCOM, the American Association for Higher Education, National School Boards Association, National Teachers Association, and the national associations for various disciplines&emdash;mathematics, science, English, social studies, etc. The Higher Education Information Resource Alliance (HEIR), for example, states in the Evaluation Guidelines for Self Assessment it issued to institutions, "The institutional environment that encourages faculty to make appropriate and innovative uses of resources to further learning needs to be measured." At the First Annual NII Awards Dinner, held in Washington, D.C., July 13, 1995, awards were presented in the categories of Arts & Entertainment, Business, Community, Education, and Government. The winner in Education was the DO-IT Program, from the College of Engineering/Computing and Communication, University of Washington, Seattle. DO-IT stands for Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology. By integrating technology into the curriculum, disabled students create new educational opportunities. "Students who may not be able to speak, or hear, or see, or read left to right, or move their upper bodies, are now working as interns in professional labs, winning national essay contests, receiving scholarships
" Some Conclusions & Feedback Some conclusions can be drawn from all the activity in this area. These include: Set measurable objectives and provide educators the freedom to use whatever tools and strategies they find effective. Teachers who work together have developed, and are continuing to create, meaningful projects. Educators are purchasing curriculum materials that use technology and help learners become more motivated and self-reliant. Concerned about educational content, they seek interactive materials that expose students to worthwhile topics and are easily integrated into existing curriculum. In a state education chiefs survey conducted by The Milken Institute, the four priorities are: 1) teacher training, 2) integrating technology into instruction, 3) wiring public schools into the Information Highway, and 4) equipping all schools to telecommunicate with each other. Administrators are trying to overcome the obstacles to curriculum integration. I discussed this matter at a recent IBM Executive Conference. According to Sandy Hare, principal at Portola School, Pacifica, Calif., who is working with her teachers to integrate technology into the entire school, the prime inhibitors are insufficient time, lack of collaboration and inadequate sources for staff development. Integration of technology into curriculum is still uneven and inconsistent. It has made some impact, but it is difficult to separate factors such as pupil access and opportunity, teacher ability and administrative support. However, it still has led to a better teaching and learning environment.
This article originally appeared in the 10/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.