by Dr. Sylvia Charp Editor-in-Chief As is our custom, the January issue of T.H.E. shares activities in the use of technology by our colleagues around the world. As a member of an International Seminar on Schooling, it was my good fortune to revisit Berlin in November, and hear "first-hand" of the problems associated with unification. At my last visit, only a brief glimpse of East Germany was available. East Berlin, now, is beginning to shows signs of rebuilding and renovation. Plans are underway to upgrade or modernize its antiquated social, medical and educational institutions; though many problems exist, the future seems to be promising. Germany Addresses Its Problems New jobs are being created, due to Berlin's building boom, which is expected to continue for at least a decade. East and West Berlin jointly face a shortage of production-related, financial, engineering and management services. In East Berlin, there is a noticeable lack of basic service workers, such as electricians and plumbers. Television is the major source of information, no matter what language. People spend a great deal of time in front of a TV. Most education is provided, regulated and run by the state government. Only a few private universities and colleges have been approved. At the university level, West and East Berliners, as well as students from all over Germany, study together. The school system in Berlin has basic primary school and many secondary schools. For the first six years, children aged 6-12 attend the Grundschule (primary school). Four different types of school are then available. Gymnasium (university preparatory school); Realschule (with emphasis on business); a Hauptschule (trade school), or the Gesamtschule (comprehensive school), which offers a more general education and allows students to make career decisions at a later point. Since the beginning of the 1991-92 school year, Berlin's curricula and school system have been standardized. Many of the East Berlin's teachers have been absorbed into a unified system. Germany is well known for its apprentice training and on-going cooperation between industry and schools. German employers have a strong commitment to training and a traditional national responsibility. A visit to Siemens Company, learning about their management and vocational training, was very informative. Vocational students spend two weeks at one of the large, well-equipped Siemens facilities and one week in school. They often work in teams and older students produce marketable material. Technology in the form of numerical control equipment, multimedia computers, robotics are available. I was amused at a poster hanging on the wall of a number of shops that read: America has............Germany has William Clinton........Helmut Kohl Stevie Wonder..........No wonder Johnny Cash............No cash Students are the same everywhere. Action on a Global Scale As our colleagues become more involved with technology, they continue to look to the U.S. for leadership. This is noted by the growth of attendees at our national conferences. Participants at the recent League for Innovation Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, titled "Inventing the Community College," included 60 from Holland, 40 from Canada and many others from a number of foreign countries. At the Tel-Ed meeting in Dallas, also in November, Betty Collis, of Twente' University, the Netherlands, stated networks are in operation in a majority of European countries. A growth of teacher centers handle teacher training and technical problems. Some countries, like France concentrate on communication facilities in the home. Iceland is providing online professional development. Switzerland prefers to distribute all information online. Netherland schools receive what is considered a reasonable budget and choose their own priorities and technology expenditures. Leadership has shifted to the school principal. The DELTA Project is a major initiative supported by the Commission of European Communities (CEC) to stimulate cooperative activities across Europe through 27 projects based on the optimal use of information technology and communications and on improving competitiveness in the training industry. The current phase of the project extends from 1991 to 1994, with a budget of more than $100 million from the CEC and as much from European universities, telecommunication providers and universities (DELTA 1993 Annual Technical Report on Research and Technical Development for Flexible and Distance Learning, Brussels Commission of the European Community). Collaborate for Success Most promising activities seem to be the result of collaboration between educators, business leaders and community groups. Greater sensitivity to cultural issues is creating new opportunities for cooperation between countries. Information sharing is of utmost importance. T.H.E. is most pleased to publish guest editorials by the Chief State School Officers on their views on the use of technology in education. The first editorial for the new series is by Dr. Henry Marockie, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools, who serves as co-chair of the National Committee on Technology for the Council of Chief State School Officers.
This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1994 issue of THE Journal.