From researchers to rabble-rousers, a small band of high-impact players has had a powerful effect on technology in the nation’s schools. Some of these men and women have done great things for education, some have set schools back. But count on this: Because of the movers and shakers you’re about to meet, education technology will never be the same again.
Al Gore, vice president of the United States
Having first coined the term “information superhighway” 17 years ago, Vice President Gore is the individual most responsible for spearheading the current administration’s focus on educational technology.
It was Gore’s call to connect all schools to the internet that led to the controversial eRate–and led Republicans in Congress to label the program the “Gore Tax.”
During his eight years as a congressman and eight more years as a senator, Gore became a nationally recognized leader in technology policy. While a member of the Senate, he introduced and steered to passage the High Performance Computing Act to create a seamless web of communications networks, computers, databases, and consumer electronics. That legislation was signed into law in 1991, creating the National Information Infrastructure (NII), of which the internet is a part.
At the Superhighway Summit in Los Angeles in 1994, Gore issued his now-famous challenge to connect every U.S. classroom to the internet by the year 2000: “I challenge all of the CEOs who are on the panel and in the audience…to make this commitment at the conclusion of your meeting, and then to challenge in turn the CEOs of every other company in your industries to accept and help us meet this goal. If you will make this commitment today, our administration will issue the same challenge to state regulators, governors, mayors, school boards, teachers, librarians…and citizens throughout this country.”
Gore has played a key role in developing and supporting the administration’s Educational Technology Initiative and its four pillars (computers, internet access, educational software, and teacher training) introduced in President Clinton’s State of the Union Address in 1996. He also has led the administration’s push for the devel opment of the Next Generation Internet–a new broadband internet for the integrated delivery of voice, video, and data–and helped usher in an era in which federal funding for school technology is at an all-time high.
governor of South Dakota
South Dakota’s plan to wire the state’s schools to the internet has proceeded more quickly than even state officials had imagined. Janklow has spurred the plan on by leveraging the state’s buying power to negotiate super deals with its telecommunications and cable companies.
Jack Christie, retiring chairman of Texas Board of Education
Christie received considerable attention last year when he proposed replacing the state’s textbooks with laptop computers. An idea ahead of its time, his controversial suggestion nevertheless pushed the debate over technology in schools into the national spotlight.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
The two lawmakers were co-authors of the provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act that established the eRate. Their bipartisan effort to defend the eRate in the face of repeated attacks within the Senate helped the program weather the storm of its inaugural year.
John Bailey, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology
Bailey’s leadership in Pennsylvania’s Link to Learn program is a driving force behind the state’s No. 1 ranking in educational technology by the Progress and Freedom Foundation. In the past three years, Link to Learn has supplied the state’s districts with nearly $130 million for technology initiatives, including $2 million for Year 2000 compliance projects.
===> ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS
Yvonne Andres, director of Global Schoolhouse
An educator for 18 years, Ms. Andres has pioneered instructional telecommunications and internet learning for more than a decade and was recently selected as one of the 10 Women of Merit in San Diego.
Andres currently is on special assignment as director of the Global Schoolhouse, an international K-12 networking project originally funded by National Science Foundation. She also serves as president and curriculum director for the Global SchoolNet Foundation. Before joining Global Schoolhouse, she was the technology specialist and school-based program coordinator at Jefferson Middle School in Oceanside (Calif.) Unified School District.
Andres began her association with instructional telecommunications in 1984 as an electronic bulletin board system operator and project director for various networks, including the California Online Resources in Education (CORE) Network and California Education and Research Federation Network (CERFnet). She has provided leadership and training in educational telecommunications at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, Japan, Norway, South America, Australia, and Africa.
In 1988, Andres co-authored TeleSensations: The Educators’ Handbook to Instructional TeleComputing. For seven years, she served as the editor of an international newsletter focusing on collaborative telecomputing projects. She has helped develop hundreds of successful telecomputing projects, two of which were selected as model lessons by the California Educational Technology Committee.
In 1992, Andres developed and coordinated the original Global Schoolhouse Project, which linked together students from schools in Knoxville, Tenn.; Arlington, Va.; Oceanside, Calif.; and London, England. Students in grades 5-8 conducted a study of watershed pollution and shared their findings via state-of-the-art videoconferencing using desktop computers and the internet. In 1994, the project was expanded to include 20 schools in 12 states, using the internet to study alternative energy sources, space exploration, natural disasters, and waste management.
In 1994, Andres accepted an appointment to the California Governor’s Information Technology Council, where she helped author Getting Results. Andres also is a co-author of “Going to School on the Internet” (a publication of Cisco Systems) and “Harnessing the Power of the Web for Classroom Use: A Tutorial.” In 1997, she wrote Apple’s “Getting Started on the Internet” guide for teachers.
Allan Weis, president of Advanced Network & Services Inc.
Weis is the organizer of ThinkQuest, an annual contest that rewards students for their web site-building prowess with cash and scholarships. ThinkQuest has awarded more than $5 million since its launch three years ago and has become enormously popular with students worldwide. Weis also is a member of the CEO Forum on Education and Technology.
John Detwiler, president of Detwiler Foundation
Detwiler is founder of one of the oldest and most influential programs for transferring used and refurbished computers from businesses to schools. The program now encompasses 19 states, and it sparked a trend of using prison labor to refurbish the machines.
Ellen Davis Burnham, information technology planner for the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology
Davis Burnham led the organization of a statewide Net Day and pioneered a program called Tech Crew, which trains high school students to design, build, and troubleshoot computer networks. Tech Crew has become a national model.
Mark Root, manager of technology services for the Council of the Great City Schools
Root has been the individual most pivotal in ensuring that the nation’s urban public schools are not left behind in the technology revolution. He has developed a national Urban Net Day initiative, works with urban districts to make sure they are Year 2000 compliant, and helps them take advantage of the eRate.
====> CORPORATE LEADERS
Terry Crane, president of Jostens Learning Corp.
Therese Crane, Ed.D., joined Jostens Learning Corp. as its president in January
1997. Widely regarded as one of the nation’s most innovative leaders in educational technology, Dr. Crane acts as the company’s key liaison to the education community and oversees the development of its new products.
In 1998, Crane served as co-chair of the CEO Forum on Education and Technology, a coalition of 21 captains of industry that measures and helps spur the progress of the nation’s schools toward educational technology goals. Under her leadership, the CEO Forum released an updated version of its School Technology and Readiness (STaR) Chart stressing professional development for teachers. The new STaR Chart offers four professional development criteria for schools to meet as they make the transition from old schools to eSchools.
Crane also helped spearhead a recent study funded by Jostens Learning and the American Association of School Administrators. The study confirmed what many suspected was true: Nearly all U.S. educators say computers have made a difference in their classrooms. “People no longer ask why we should put technology in schools,” Crane said. “Rather, today’s question is ‘How?'”
From 1994 to 1996, Crane ran Apple’s education division. She developed the Apple Education Series and helped establish Apple as a full-service provider of products and services for educators. Before joining Apple, Crane worked for the Richardson Independent School District in Texas, where she designed and implemented the district’s first technology plan after serving as an elementary school teacher, intermediate principal, and consultant to the talented and gifted programs.
In addition to her other responsibilities, Crane is chair of the newly-formed National School Boards Foundation and was appointed to serve on the California Task Force for Technology by the state’s superintendent for public instruction, Delaine Eastin.
John Carson, co-founder and president of Family Education Network (FEN)
Begun as a modest web site to help parents connect on shared concerns, Carson’s FamilyEducation Network has become one of the busiest, most prolific sites on the web. FEN provides parents with the information and resources they need to actively participate in their children’s education and offers a free web site hosting service for schools. The company’s “Lighthouse Project” is helping accelerate the technology growth at a dozen schools and will take a close look at the effects of technology at home in spurring children’s success at school.
Joan Fenwick, director of AT&T Learning Network
Under Fenwick’s leadership, the $150 million AT&T Learning Network initiative offers technology grants and free professional development services to schools. The Network’s AskLN mentoring program gives educators personalized online coaching in the use of technology in the classroom.
Ralph Ungerman, president and CEO of FVC.COM
Ungerman’s company is a pioneer in the development of the Next Generation Internet, a new broadband internet for the integrated delivery of voice, video, and data. FVC.COM has worked extensively to develop cutting-edge video networking solutions for schools.
John Kernan, founder and CEO of The Lightspan Partnership
Kernan’s company has helped extend the school day for hundreds of districts by providing low-cost technology solutions that work both in the home and at school. Prior to founding The Lightspan Partnership, Kernan was founder and CEO of Jostens Learning Corp.
John Gage, director of science for Sun Microsystems
In 1982, Gage left his doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley to form Sun Microsystems with Bill Joy. He’s now the company’s chief scientist–and father of the original Net Day concept.
Few could have guessed that Gage would be launching a national phenomenon when he created Net Day 96. The high-tech version of a community barn-raising, which first took place on March 9, 1996, began as a grassroots campaign in California. Gage came up with the idea at a meeting of the Federal Networking Committee Advisory Commission, a 30-person panel formed to help the federal government decide how to spread networking.
“At Sun, we had just gone through construction of our new Menlo Park campus, where we ran 50 kilometers of category 5 wire into every office,” Gage said in a 1996 interview. “The cost of that wire was about six or seven cents a foot in volume. It struck me that we could easily take that same wire and yield a wired school for $500. If we could donate the wire, the rest–the computers and the network connectivity, the other two components of putting the school on the internet–might be donated as well. We might be able to get all the pieces together for far less than what anybody thought.”
Besides creating the original Net Day web site, Gage challenged Sun employees to volunteer their time and expertise. The event quickly became a competition among other Silicon Valley companies to see who could lend more support to local schools. Later in 1996, a national Net Day was established, and many states since have held their own versions of the event.
Gage also hosts an interactive, educational program, Sunergy, which explores the frontiers of computing, networking, science, and mathematics. Sunergy is broadcast live five times per year via satellite television and internet webcasts.
A $9 billion leader in the sale of network computing systems, Sun Microsystems is the developer of Java, a universal software language allowing internet and corporate intranet developers to write applications that run on any computer, regardless of the processor or operating system. Java has expanded the opportunities available to schools that use a mix of Macintosh and Windows-based machines.
Ray Kurzweil, founder and CEO of Kurzweil Education Systems
Kurzweil is responsible for several technology innovations that have had a significant impact on education, including the first commercially-marketed, large-vocabulary speech recognition system and the first print-to-speech reading maching for the blind. His present company manufactures reading and educational software for blind and learning-disabled students.
Dave Moursund, professor of education at the University of Oregon
Moursund is founder and executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), a nonprofit organization that helps K-12 teachers and administrators share effective methods for enhancing student learning through the use of new classroom technologies. He has written more than 30 books on educational technology.
Jane M. Healy,
Healy is the author of several books on child development, including Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds–for Better and Worse (Simon & Schuster, 1998). Failure to Connect intensified the debate surrounding computers in education by warning that when used inappropriately, computers actually can hinder students’ development–a theory supported in a recent study by Educational Testing Service (ETS) of New Jersey.
Christopher Dede, professor of educational technology at George Mason University
A leader in the study of emerging technologies for learning, Dede currently has a major grant from the National Science Foundation to develop educational environments based on virtual reality technology.
Theodore Kellogg, professor of education at the University of Rhode Island
Dr. Kellogg has pioneered the integration of technology into Rhode Island’s classrooms by leading an ambitious effort to train 2,500, or about one-third, of the state’s public school teachers in the use of technology by the year 2000.
The effort, dubbed the Rhode Island Teachers and Training Initiative (RITTI), got its roots from an earlier initiative, Project SMART, led by Kellogg and Bill Fiske of the state’s Department of Education. Through Project SMART, Kellogg used federal grant money from the National Science Foundation to train about 100 math and science teachers in technology during the summers of 1995 and 1996.
Thanks to a $5 million grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, RITTI picks up where Project SMART left off. As the program’s coordinator, Kellogg chooses and trains the classroom teachers who will serve as trainers for their colleagues and works with them to develop the pedagogy and curriculum.
Teachers who successfully complete the two-week training receive a free laptop computer. Kellogg negotiated the prices of the machines with Apple and Toshiba. He also oversees a core of technicians that answers questions and provides free technical support for the laptops throughout the school year.
Last summer, in the first full year of the program, 920 teachers received training at 19 different sites. Each session consisted of four trainers and 20 participants. Kellogg coordinates the training sites, manages the program’s web site, and operates its listserv.
“It’s remarkable how teachers respond to Ted’s leadership and enthusiasm,” said Ron Thorp, vice president of the Rhode Island Foundation. “He’s the best friend that teachers in Rhode Island could ever hope to have.”
Bonnie Bracey, president of the Bonnie Bracey-Pearl Software Foundation
A pioneer in using technology in the classroom setting, Bracey served as K-12 specialist on the President’s Information Infrastructure Advisory Board. She created the Bonnie Bracey-Peal Software Educational Foundation in 1998 to help teachers integrate technology into their classroom instruction and is a member of NASA’s Challenger Center Faculty as well.
Della Curtis, coordinator of library information services for Baltimore County Public Schools
A longtime advocate of technology and family involvement in education, Curtis is the organizer of “Parent Internet Education,” a program designed to teach parents the value of the internet and to help them participate in their children’s online experience (eSchool News, May 1998).
Kathy Schrock, technology coordinator for Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District (Mass.)
A leader as well as a practicer of technology, Schrock is the creator of “Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators,” one of the first–and still one of the best–web sites for introducing teachers to the internet.
Ted Nellen, English teacher at Murry Bergtraum High School (New York City)
Nellen is a champion of using the internet to pair students with online mentors. His CyberEnglish project (eSchool News, March 1998) has received international acclaim.
====> NEWSMAKERS AND OPINION SHAPERS
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee
As chairman of the committee that oversees the internet, McCain holds a great deal of influence over the policies that determine how schools can use technology. That influence was felt last year when he blasted the Federal Communications Commission for its implementation of the eRate.
A critic of the eRate in its present form, McCain chastised the FCC for creating a “bloated bureaucracy” by establishing the Schools and Libraries Corp. (SLC) to administer the program. “I fully support the goal of bringing advanced telecommunications services to schools and libraries…but I don’t believe that multi-million dollar bureaucracies are necessary to accomplish this goal,” he said. “Whatever money would be spent in administering [the SLC] could otherwise go towards funding the technological advancements.”
McCain also voiced his concern, shared by others in Congress, that the eRate would be open to fraud and abuse, would force telecommunications companies to raise their customers’ phone rates, and would fund wealthier schools at the expense of poorer ones. In response to these concerns, the FCC tightened controls, reduced the level of funding, and changed the funding priority in mid-program. The result for schools: further delays and unpleasant surprises.
Though the jury is still out, McCain’s watchful eye may well have saved the program in the end. One hopeful sign came from McCain himself. After meeting with Kate Moore, the SLC’s new head of operations, in September, McCain issued a statement saying, “While I remain concerned about the source of funding for the program, the new leadership causes me to believe that this program will be successful and last long into the future.”
One McCain initiative that failed last year: legislation that would require schools to install filtering software on all computers if they received federal technology funds. McCain steered the Internet School Filtering Act of 1998 through committee in March, but despite efforts to attach the legislation as an amendment to a late appropriations bill, it never reached the full Senate for debate.
Linda Roberts, special advisor on educational technology for the U.S. Department of Education (ED)
As ED’s first-ever “special advisor” on technology, Roberts has drawn upon more than thirty years as a classroom teacher and technology researcher to help guide the integration of technology into America’s public schools.
Don Tapscott, president of New Paradigm Learning Corp.
Widely regarded as one of the leading thinkers of the digital revolution, Tapscott is the author of Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation (McGraw-Hill, 1998), a guide to understanding how today’s children think and learn in the computer age.
Todd Oppenheimer, outspoken critic of technology in education
Oppenheimer’s article “The Computer Delusion,” published in Atlantic Monthly (July 1997), had nearly the same metaphorical impact on educational technology as his namesake Robert’s invention had on the landscape of the 20th century. Yet it also forced advocates of technology to articulate their reasons, and we’re all the better for the debate.
Andy Carvin, new media program officer for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Carvin is the founder and manager of WWWEDU, an online discussion forum for educators that he began in 1994. A self-styled educational technology expert, he has published several articles about the role of the web in education.