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Panel Will Investigate Use Of Computers in Schools

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Washington--The Education Department (ed) has appointed a committee to develop a working definition of "computer literacy" for a 1984 national survey of the use of computers in elementary and secondary education.

The committee, which met for the first time last week for two days, will work with the Educational Testing Service (ets) and the Human Resources Research Organization (humrro). The committee will submit "a bank of questions" by Oct. 31 for possible use in the survey.

The survey, which will be conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, is not expected to be completed until at least 1985.

The department awarded a grant of $134,224 to ets and humrro to work with the panel of experts on computers in education. The committee will meet two more times.

Several organizations have defined computer literacy and have conducted surveys of the computer knowledge of administrators, teachers, and students. This is the first ed effort, and it could result in the most comprehensive national survey of the use of computers in elementary and secondary schools, officials said.

Richard M. Beazley, an educational project specialist for ed, said the survey will measure "levels" of computer capabilities of administrators, and students. "When you speak of computer literacy, you talk about the minimum capability to use [the technology]," he said. "But we're not interested in the barest minimum; we're interested in the different levels of competency."

Because of the rapid change in the computer industry, officials said, the committee will emphasize short-term issues in educational applications of technology. The group will try to make its questions relevant to 1985 or 1990, said Beverly Hunter, the senior staff scientist for humrro.

Among the categories that the panel will consider will be administrative planning, teaching with and about computers, using programs, solving problems, writing programs, analyzing applications of computers, social issues of computers, and using concepts and terminology.

Members of the panel are: David Moursund of the computer and science education department at the University of Oregon; Joseph R. Caravella, director of program services for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; K. Fred Daniel, director of strategy, planning, and management information systems for the Florida Department of Education; Michael Moshell, chairman of the computer science department at the University of Tennessee; Jean Rice, of Total Information for Education Systems; Daniel Watt, a writer for Byte magazine; William Atchison, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland; Sylvia Charp, director of instructional systems for the Philadelphia School District; and Arthur Luehrmann, a partner with Computer Literacy Inc.--ce

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