Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp., developers of the computer chips and software that make up the majority of the world’s personal computers, announced on Jan. 20 that they are spearheading an effort to train 400,000 classroom teachers in 20 countries around the world over the next three years.
The program, to be known as “Teach to the Future,” will provide computer equipment, software, technical support, and teacher training, according to the partners. Their donation acknowledges a growing demand for improved teacher quality, particularly in the area of technology skills.
“The scope of this program represents the industry’s recognition that all the educational technology in classrooms today is worth nothing if teachers don’t know how to use it effectively,” said Intel president and chief executive officer Craig Barrett. “Computers aren’t magic; teachers are.”
Last year, the Education Department reported that four out of five U.S. classroom teachers felt ill-prepared to use technology in daily instruction. Supporters of the Teach to the Future program say it will be the largest private industry effort yet to address this problem.
Intel will contribute $100 million in computer equipment to the effort, and Microsoft will donate $344 million in software and program support. Hewlett-Packard Company and Premio Computer will provide free and discounted computer equipment worth tens of millions, bringing the total support for the program to at least a half-billion dollars.
“The students in school today are the first generation to grow up with the internet as an integral part of their lives,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft president and CEO. “That is why it’s critical to provide teachers the training opportunities and software tools they need to harness the power of today’s technology for learning.”
Teach to the Future is an update of the Intel ACE (Applying Computers in Education) program, which Intel launched about two years ago. Developed by the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) in Sunnyvale, Calif., Intel ACE and Teach to the Future aim to teach educators how to show their students how to use the internet, design web pages, and turn traditional reports and projects into multimedia projects.
“This is not for the novice computer user,” said Intel spokesperson Sandra Duncan. “We expect teachers to come in with their lesson plans, and we will work with them to figure out how to integrate technology into the subject matter they are teaching.”
Each of the classroom teachers will receive a free copy of Microsoft Office 2000 Professional, the software for which the training is created, and Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000.
“With this software, a project in, for example, U.S. history that might have been just reading books and writing a report can become a multimedia project,” Duncan said.
School districts will be able to purchase highly discounted systems for each teacher trained. Computer manufacturers will offer a high-end Intel Pentium III processor-based system for $750 and may provide additional system configurations at different price points to meet a variety of needs. Participants in the discount program will include Acer, AST, Bold Data, Caliber, Hewlett-Packard, Quantex, Premio, and Tangent.
Train the trainer
To extend the benefits of Teach to the Future, the program is developed on a train-the-trainer model. In each U.S. region where the program is implemented, regional training agencies will recruit and train annually 100 master teachers (who also will be provided with the Microsoft software).
Each master teacher will work with individual school districts to train at least 20 classroom teachers per year. In the United States, each regional training agency will be provided with equipment donated by Hewlett-Packard to establish a training lab for master teachers. Premio Computer will donate 20 computer labs to participating school districts for delivery of training by master teachers to classroom teachers.
This year, the program will be made available to selected schools and school districts in Arizona, northern California, Oregon, and Texas, Duncan said. Intel chose areas where it has facilities so it will be easier to provide the training and support needed to get the program off the ground, she said.
“We’ve sketched out our schools for years one and two pretty well, but year three is fairly wide open,” Duncan added.
Decisions on which areas to support will be based on many factors, including need and readiness to apply the technology, Duncan said. Although need and readiness may seem to be contradictory, Duncan indicated that areas ready for the technology “are more likely to accelerate the impact, which is attractive.”
By the end of 2002, Intel anticipates that 100,000 U.S. teachers and 300,000 teachers elsewhere will have completed the program.
For information about the program, visit Intel’s web site. To find out if your area is under consideration for the program, contact the Intel Foundation on its web site. n