Use of technology in education has grown considerably in manyother parts of the world. Endeavors have been primarily experimentaland generally restricted in size and scope. However, a wide spectrumof ongoing activities can be identified, particularly since the debutof the Web. Experiences in countries differ based on theirpedagogical, administrative, and financial needs and circumstances.The extent of government support varies and initiatives have oftenbeen stimulated by support from the private sector.
Many programs are ongoing and are set forth in a country'snational policy on education. For example:
- A national satellite TV network supplies a wide variety of inservice teacher education courses in China. Exams and granting of certificates are handled by the local regular and adult teacher training colleges and schools. The teachers learn primarily, however, through TV, which is responsible for their continuing education.
- In Finland, general courses are given at adult education centers, summer schools, training institutions and some universities. A "Computer Driving License" was first issued in 1994. It was based on examinations that demonstrate basic skills in Information Technology (IT) and show an understanding of word processing, spreadsheets, databases, telecommunications, networking, etc. It is anticipated that a European Computer Driving License (ECDL) will be introduced by the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies in Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
- A major project at Tel Aviv University's Science and Education Center in Israel has existed for 10 years. Science and technology curricula for grades 1-6 have been developed and distributed; more than 20 books have been produced. These are considered the best-selling products in Israel.
- In Russia, automated educational courses with computer program support are widely used. Courses include slides, printed material, audio and video. Centers provide education and training for teachers and assist educational institutions in applying information technologies to education.
- Revised national policies in education include provision for computer awareness programs. In Botswana, this is not a stand-alone program but is infused into many curriculum subjects at secondary and tertiary levels. Botswana, like other nations, has recognized the need to increase the technical background of its people to better compete in world markets.
- According to 1992 education policy in Pakistan: "Computer education will be emphasized and made a part of education curricula at all levels. All training programmes for teachers and educational administrators will include computer education as a compulsory component. Computer-aided instruction will be used as an important tool for enriching teaching-learning processes. Special funds will be provided for introducing computer hardware and software in schools. Science curricula will be designed so as to include computer-based creative educational activities."
- The introduction of computer science into compulsory education in Switzerland is underway, though progress has not been the same in each region. Computer science is seen as a tool and is to be integrated into the teaching of various disciplines. The Swiss Center for Informatics Technology in Education (CTIE), in cooperation with other institutions, has set up LOGITEQUE, a database that gathers information on programs throughout Switzerland of interest to teachers.
Campus-wide online information systems and world-wideinterconnections via the Internet are becoming well established allover the world. Use of distance learning continues to grow,especially at the corporate level. At an Executive Briefing onDistance Learning, "The Strategic Learning Revolution inProfessional Development and Employer Education," held at MITin November, 1996, business leaders from China, Italy, Canada,Austria, Japan and Switzerland attended. Major needs they expressedare to increase access, decrease cost and improve quality.
The explosive growth and popularity of the Internet and World WideWeb has far exceeded all expectation, and its acceptance around theworld is unbelievable. For example, last year Tokyo had only twoInternet providers, today there are 46. However, the technology d'esnot seem to be changing the way the Japanese work and play.Hardly anyone works at home, and few people use computers onairplanes or on their wonderful bullet trains. Desktop PCs are oftennot on individual desks but in separate rooms. E-mail is not commonlyused in Japanese business; the face-to-face meeting is stillpreferred.
While telecommunication needs are now understood, cost stillappears to be the real drawback. Training teachers is now consideredcritical. Use of the Internet is generally the primary theme at mostInternational Technology Conferences and the most well-attendedsessions. This includes Internet HTML authoring tools and Webmanagement software.
Differences between those countries that can afford to build uptheir technological infrastructure and those nations that cannotstill exist. Obstacles to widespread use in education continue to bea lack of equipment, teacher education and curriculum. Internationalcooperation is still considered in its infancy, especially in theexchange of information.
Our Silver Anniversary
T.H.E. Journal has played an active, and hopefully useful,role in disseminating information on the use of technology ineducation for the past 25 years. We are very pleased to announce 1997as our 25th anniversary year. We thank our colleagues around theworld for sharing their activities with our readers. We hope tocontinue to serve you for many more years.
This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.