The integration of technology into teaching and learning activities is now an accepted practice. It is ongoing and deemed essential for effective pedagogy. Research centers have been established in many education institutions to support the use of technology for instruction. In two very exciting meetings I attended in February -- 1) The International Conference on Technology in Education (ICTE) held in New Orleans (43 countries were represented) and 2) The Global Village Schools Conference held in San Francisco -- a number of national and international projects using technologies in various disciplines were described. Some general observations can be made.

  • Educational technology that is effectively integrated into the curriculum provides expanding learning opportunities.
  • Research indicates the impact of integrating technology into the curriculum is positive and creates better learning.
  • Unplanned use of curriculum integration is not meeting educational objectives and is adding little to the construction of new knowledge.
  • As more faculty becomes familiar with using computers in the classroom, the need for specific software packages increases.
  • Dramatic growth in the number of available software packages can be noted. "Back to basics" software is still most frequently desired. A growing over dependence on animation, dialogue and music exists. The increasing number of choices is causing confusion.
  • Curriculum specialists have little communication with technology coordinators. Technologists are known to implement technology into the curriculum without involving the user.

Bad News, Good News

Impediments to the integration of technology into the curriculum have not substantially changed in the past few years. Those frequently mentioned include: faculty indifference, need for faculty training, lack of administrative support, need for the proper infrastructure to encourage use of technology, lack of a strategic plan, and lack of funds. Positive motivators include: greater faculty awareness, increased student demands, need to stay competitive with other peer institutions and greater outside pressure.

Results of a National Survey published in the United Kingdom indicates Information Technology (IT) is in nearly every subject of the curriculum and usage is greater than expected. Problems stated are the same as in many countries in the world. These include: insufficient number of computers and peripherals, lack of information about the software available, lack of software which fits learning objectives, lack of confidence in handling software, lack of time to learn new programs, difficulty integrating computers into teaching practices, lack of confidence in using computers, lack of skills for instructional use, difficulty in booking the IT room, inadequate financial support and lack of support from administrators.

However, numbers of faculty who are using technology resources to enhance the curriculum are increasing. A real demand for quality commercial products is growing. The use of information technology in instruction is finally moving past the early adopters and breaking into the ranks of the mainstream faculty. Integrating computers across the curriculum is allowing teachers to shift the teaching paradigm from one of lecture/listen to one of hands-on active learning. The integration of technology is a slow and gradual process.

David Packard, Friend to Education

A few words about David Packard, who died March 26, 1996. In the very early days before the microcomputer, minicomputers were used for instruction in education and the Hewlett-Packard Company made a great contribution in this area. I had the pleasure and privilege to meet with Mr. Packard on a number of occasions. His interest in education and his support of school systems ( I was at that time Director of Instructional Systems for the School District of Philadelphia) will not be forgotten. We shall all miss his generosity and foresight.w

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.