By William Snider — February 12, 1986 4 min read

Efforts to prepare urban teachers to take advantage of computer technology are hampered by tight district budgets, a trend toward top-down, short-term teacher training, and a lack of information on how computers can best meet the needs of minorities and the poor, according to a new report.

But on the positive side, say researchers at the Bank Street College of Education’s Center for Children and Technology, which prepared the report, urban districts are as committed as their suburban counterparts to making computer education available, and there is a “widespread and intense” desire among urban teachers for training in the field.

The 26-page report, “Preparing Urban Teachers for the Technological Future,” recommends:

  • Designing more effective staff-development and staff-support models, which have as a goal involving teachers in the shaping of how technology will be used in the schools.
  • Identifying and supporting the development of higher-education programs that explore the uses of educational technologies in an urban setting.
  • Conducting small-scale experimental projects focused on the needs and resources of urban schools.

Copies of the report can be obtained for $3 each by writing Laura Bryant at the Bank Street College of Education, 610 West 112th St., New York, N.Y. 10025; (212) 663-7200.

January marked the première of a new electronic-communications network established by the Texas Education Agency to facilitate the transfer of information between the department and local school districts and campuses.

The system includes both an electric bulletin board, which will contain information of general value to all Texas schools, and electronic-mail capabilities for communications directed to specific offices and individuals.

The state office has plans to add databases on topics such as education legislation, software evaluation, and state-bard policies and their interpretation.

The T.E.A. network can be accessed by subscribers to The Electronic Pages, a commercial computer network of education information. For more information on the T.E.A. network, call Sandy Pratscher, director of education technology, at (512) 463-9087.

Entries are being accepted until April 30 for a contest open to students in grades 4-9 who use “Story Tree,” a creative-writing program marketed by Scholastic Inc.

The program allows students to write interactive stories that branch out from one beginning to many possible endings.

Submitted stories will be judged on the basis of creativity, imagination, and use of the program’s interactive feature.

Winning authors and their teachers will receive a personal computer from Apple Computer Inc., which co-sponsors the event.

Details on entering can be obtained by writing to Scholastic Software, Story Tree Contest, Dept. WW, 730 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10003.

The U.S. Department of Energy has developed a software program that allows administrators to rapidly evaluate alternative financing arrangements for energy-saving capital improvements.

The program considers an array of options, including commercial loans, government grants, government bonds, internal financing, and third-party financing, such as sharing savings with an energy-management firm. (See Education Week, Oct. 2, 1985).

The program includes information on the Department of Energy’s institutional conservation program of matching grants for institutions undertaking energy-conservation measures, as well as a bibliographic listing of relevant references.

Copies of the program are available for $78 from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Va. 22161; (703) 487-4763.

Students from Rockville High School in Rockville, Md., and Lafayette High School in Lexington, Ky., scored 1,693 out of a possible 2,000 points last month to outperform teams from 840 other schools in the nation’s largest computer-based academic competition

Nearly 12,000 secondary-school students participated in the 1985 Fall National Knowledge Master’s Open, answering questions drawn from all areas of the curriculum. Student teams competed on computers in their schools, using a special software package developed by the contest’s sponsor, Academic Hallmarks of Durango, Colo.

The semi-annual contest, first held in the fall of 1983, awards trophies to the top schools in the nation and $100 worth of software to the winners in each state.

An official delegation from the People’s Republic of China visited the United States last month to learn how educational technologies can be used to make Chinese teachers more productive.

“The Chinese are requesting our assistance in creating relationships of mutual assistance and trust between themselves and America’s instructional-technology companies,” said Lyn Gubser, executive director of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, which hosted the delegation.

The Chinese government is mounting a major effort to modernize its educational system; last summer, for example, the Ministry of Education was elevated to the rank held by only two other departments: defense and science-technology.

An A.E.C.T. delegation to China last October found a pervasive shortage of teachers but also noted that the Chinese are making extensive use of television in all educational fields.

Readers are invited to submit items of special interest to: Computers, Education Week, Suite #775, 1255 23rd St. Washington, D.C. 20037.

A version of this article appeared in the February 12, 1986 edition of Education Week