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Technology Should Be Part of Curriculum, Not Supplement, Study Says

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Stimulating the infusion of technology into the daily life of schools will require a national commitment and a revision of the conventional wisdom about the value of electronic learning aids, a new study of high-tech schools concludes.

"The United States as a nation must recognize the need for improvement in its educational system and seize the opportunities offered by technology," Gary Bitter, president of the International Society for Technology in Education, said at a press conference in New York. "Technology must be tightly woven into the curriculum, rather than being merely a supplement to the curriculum."

The press conference, timed to coincide with the beginning of Computer Learning Month, was held to allow Mr. Bitter and representatives of the Computer Learning Foundation to unveil the results of the "Vision: test (Technology Enriched Schools of Tomorrow)" project.

The project, underwritten by a grant from the International Business Machines Corporation, was launched in March by the ISTE.

It began with a conference in which 50 of the nation's leading experts in educational technology were linked by computer for a discussion about their visions of effective schools and how the effectiveness of educational technology could be measured.

The process continued as 150 educators visited 45 schools deemed to use technology effectively.

Mr. Bitter said the study "clearly demonstrated" that technology can reduce dropout rates and absenteeism, citing the example of the Orangeburg, S.C., school system, which slashed its dropout rate from 34 percent 1986 to 8 percent in 1990.

He also cited examples of schools that have greatly improved student performance in reading, comprehension, vocabulary, and mathematics through the use of computers and other electronic learning aids.

Mr. Bitter said the report contains five major recommendations as essential to full integration of technology. They include:

Urging the President to declare the 1990s the "Decade of Technology in Education," and lobbying the Congress to create a National Technology Trust Fund to ensure equal access to technology for all students.

Empowering teachers to use technology; revitalizing inservice education; and putting computers, telephones, and modems on every teacher's desk and in every teacher's home.

Strengthening the national commitment to equal access to technology as well as efforts to make technology an integral part of curricula.

Strengthening school-industry alliances and laying the groundwork for a national computer communications network.

Applying effective workplace technologies to streamlining the management of schools.--pw

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