Intel, Microsoft To Launch Major Training Program For Teachers
Some 400,000 teachers worldwide will be trained to apply computers and Windows-based software to classroom lessons, under a three-year philanthropic initiative led by Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp., both companies announced last week.
"There clearly is a huge need, now that teachers are getting increasing access to hardware and software through activities by their states and school districts," said Wendy Hawkins, Intel's manager of teacher-development initiatives.
The combined donations of software products and cash make it the largest effort by private industry to date to encourage and improve the use of technology in education, officials said.
The program will rely on hardware and software from Intel, Microsoft, and other participating companies. It is scheduled to start this spring in Arizona, California, Oregon, and Texas, and soon afterward in Washington state and New Mexico. Within two years, it will extend to other states and 19 additional countries, organizers said. In the United States, 100,000 teachers are expected to participate, officials said.
About 20 universities, training institutes, regional service agencies, or other groups will work with districts to choose and train "master teachers" who are skilled in using technology in the classroom. Those teachers, in turn, will train their colleagues.
Laptops for Teachers
Intel and Microsoft officials said they have found that approach successful in the computer camps, summer institutes, and traveling workshops for teachers they have supported for years. But the commitment they are making now dwarfs anything they've done before.
Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif., has committed $100 million to the project, most of it in the form of grants that will go to regional agencies for training and development of the curriculum to be used in the program.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft plans to donate some 400,000 copies of Encarta 2000, a multimedia encyclopedia, and its Office 2000 Professional software, including individual copies of the programs for participating teachers. The retail value of the software, the company said, is $344 million, though the actual cost to the company is far less.
A round of training typically will consist of 10 four-hour sessions that involve actively using computers. Teachers will bring in classroom lessons and adapt them to be delivered using technology—an approach that many experts have endorsed as effective.
As an incentive to participate in the program, teacher-trainers will each receive a laptop computer.
The program is not a free ride for participating districts, however. They are required to provide teachers with access to modern PCs and a connection to the Internet.
They must also work out ways to free up teachers for lessons, by providing substitute teachers or adjusted schedules.
"There's got to be ongoing support," if such efforts are to pay off, said Connie Stout, the president of Educational Dimensions, a consulting group based in Austin, Texas.
Districts that rely on computers made by Apple Computers Inc. will have an extra hurdle: persuading teachers to convert to machines using Microsoft's Windows operating system. Office 2000 and Encarta 2000 run only on Windows.
Some experts in education technology praised the program's design, with some caveats.
"I think the train-the-trainer approach is good," said Ms. Stout, a former director of the Texas Education Network. She warned, though, that the focus on Windows machines could encounter resistance in Texas. "You're going to run into problems. There's a lot of teachers who still use the Mac," she said.
Vol. 19, Issue 20, Page 5