Family PC recently completed its latest survey of technology implementation in K-12 schools and identified its “Top 100 Wired Schools” for 2000. While acknowledging that it’s impossible to pick the exact Top 100, the magazine’s analysis (done in conjunction with The Princeton Review) selects schools for having in place the types of equipment, teacher training, and curriculum coordination that is considered crucial to integrating technology into the classroom.
The article gives details about six schools in the Top 100 list to illustrate the depth and breadth of computer use among K-12 schools. For example, Kentucky’s West Liberty Elementary School provides eMail for every person in the schoolfrom the second-graders, to the principal, to the janitors. Students are taught to become troubleshooters for the computers and trainers of younger students. Classroom activities with computers include the creation of a U.S. timeline, presentations in PowerPoint, digital music composition, and an economics class in which students create mini-companies. For this rural community, the school has become a center of activity and has created opportunities for students to encourage their parents to become computer literate, too.
The following six steps are crucial to being successful with technology, according to Family PC:
1. Develop a clear technology plan. The plan should include your school’s philosophy for integrating technology into instruction, as well as a detailed outline of the steps involved in making this happen. Plans should be updated annually as technologies, funding, and priorities change. For help, visit the National Center for Technology Planning web site (http://www.nctp.com).
2. Involve all stakeholders. Teachers, administrators, staff, students, and parents should be represented on a committee that studies technology and recommends purchases.
3. Invest in equipment. Try to get at least one computer for each five students, experts say.
4. Connect to the web. For help in creating a school web site, visit the FamilyEducation Network web site (http://www.fen.com). The myschool online.com section includes resources for planning, designing, and running a school site.
5. Train the educators. Only 20 percent of teachers feel well prepared to integrate technology into their classroom instruction, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Education. The solution is to offer better and more professional development opportunities; for a benchmark to shoot for, visit the CEO Forum on Education and Technology web site (http://www.ceoforum.org).
6. Provide adequate support. Hire capable network administrators and computer troubleshooters to make sure the equipment stays running.