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January 5, 1999

Education
By PAMELA MENDELS Bio

Predictions for the Top Tech Issues in Schools

Hand-held computers for public school students. New for-profit online ventures from colleges and universities. A call for a moratorium on the introduction of computers in the early grades.

These are some of the trends foreseen by a group of education experts who agreed to gaze into their crystal balls and answer, by e-mail, the following: What do you envision will be the two or three most interesting or important developments in education and technology in the year 2000? Here are excerpts of their comments.

B. Keith Fulton, director of technology programs and policy, the National Urban League.
Our nation is spending five to six billion dollars a year in education and instructional technology. It's critical that policy makers are able to point to the payoff on these investments. Expanded ed-tech research and evaluation will be the key.

Rob Kling, professor of information systems and information science at Indiana University.
During the last five years, university faculty have been increasing the extent to which they post their syllabi and some teaching materials in publicly accessible sections of their Web sites. In my view, this practice radically changes the accessibility of interesting syllabi and teaching resources. . . . Another recent trend, actually much newer, is that some universities are providing explicit consulting about structure and pedagogy for faculty who teach Web-based courses. These consulting efforts are constructive ways of reacting to the difficulties that many faculty have in effectively teaching online and that many students have in participating in such courses.

Casey Green, director of the Campus Computing Project, an annual survey of campus technology.
[On the horizon:] more competition for online education companies, new online directions for many colleges. The money coming into the education market will serve as a catalyst for many colleges and schools to develop an online strategy. More colleges will develop for-profit ventures.

Linda Roberts, director, Office of Educational Technology, United States Department of Education ( responded by phone):
"I would hope to see a change in the way states certify teachers [so as to] require, as a matter of course, technology proficiency. . . . The revolution in smaller lower-cost devices is going to change the way people think about the use of information technology in learning. We will see more investment in devices like laptops and Palm Pilots."

Jamieson A. McKenzie, editor of From Now On, online journal about educational technology.
I would predict a quickening demand for a return on the technology dollar from the stakeholders who expect to see improved student achievement. Along with these demands, will come pressure for assessment, credible research and much more robust professional development.

Edward Miller, education researcher and writer.
First, the use of standardized testing in education will increase even more, and there will be an explosion in the number of Web-based businesses and the sales of "educational" software designed to improve children's scores on the new tests. These will be promoted for use both in schools and at home. At the same time, there will be increasing numbers of protests, especially from minority communities, that technology-based test preparation and coaching are disproportionately available to the rich, placing the poor and the non- white at even greater risk of school failure. . . . Second, an international group of doctors, scientists and researchers will call for a moratorium on the introduction of computers in preschools and the early elementary grades, because of growing evidence that use of computers in early childhood not only confers no educational benefit but actually interferes with normal, healthy physical and mental development. The group's pronouncement will generate mostly scorn in the United States, but several European countries will begin seriously to consider official limitations on the use of computers in early education.

Keith R. Krueger, executive director, Consortium for School Networking.
[A]s a nation, and perhaps internationally, we will begin to look at the so-called "digital divide" -- the fear that our poorest children and families are being left behind in our emerging information society.

James E. Perley, chairman of the American Association of University Professors' committee on accreditation.
As distance education and online courses continue to burgeon, the tension between traditional institutions of higher education and solely proprietary entities will increase.

Jean Armour Polly, Net-mom and author of the Internet Kids & Family Yellow Pages.
I think we'll see pay-per-view online tutorials aimed at kids, and live homework help via one-on-one chat spaces.

Gregory C. Farrington, president, Lehigh University.
We . . . will see rapid growth in the use of Web technologies to transform the education of on-campus students in traditional residential programs. Residential undergraduate education -- with the possible exception of football on Saturday afternoon -- is likely to look very different a decade from now.

Gary Chapman, social policy researcher and director of the 21st Century Project at the University of Texas in Austin.
[There could be a] great expansion in the after-school hours use of computers and networking facilities by groups other than K-12 students and teachers. [At the same time there could be] a growing movement to regard the school as a "community resource" rather than as a single-purpose institution, especially when there is expensive equipment sitting in the school doing nothing every night and weekend.

The EDUCATION column is published weekly, on Wednesdays. Click here for a list of links to other columns in the series.


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Pamela Mendels at mendels@nytimes.com welcomes your comments and suggestions.




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