A California law signed by Gov. George Deukmejian last month makes coursework in computer education a requirement for teacher certification beginning in 1988.
The intent of the law is not to require teachers to be programmers, said Paul B. Gussman, a consultant to the state education department's office of special projects, but to make sure they have a working knowledge of how computers can be used in the educational process.
Under the law, the California Teacher Credentialing Commission is to develop the specific coursework required for certification, he said.
The number of computers installed in public schools during the 1984-85 school year raised the total number nationwide to 1,035,000, a 65 percent increase over the previous year, according to a survey by Talmis Inc., a Chicago-based market research company.
Apple Computers are still chosen more often than other brands, the survey found. They now account for 54 percent of all public-school computers.
The survey also found that K-12 public schools spent $390 million on computer hardware during the 1984-85 school year, up $90 million from the previous year.
Public schools spent $130 million on software last year, according to the survey.
Educators responding to the survey said they wanted more programs that integrate the computer into the regular curriculum rather than more that simply teach computer literacy. Of the currently available software, they rated graphics programs the most satisfactory and elementary math programs the least satisfactory.
Ten percent of U.S. households now have personal computers, an increase of 3 percent over last year, according to a national survey by LINK Resources, a New York-based research and consulting firm.
The survey also found that home computers are used extensively for educational purposes. Sixty-four percent of the respondents said they used their computer for education; the same percentage said they used it for entertainment, and substantially smaller percentages reported using the computer for such functions as budgeting, word processing, and storing information.
The survey also found that 64 percent of households owning a computer had purchased educational software within the last year, up from 45 percent the previous year.
Officials in seven Southern states have established an organization to pool their efforts to evaluate educational software.
Project SEED--Software Evaluation Exchange Development--will attempt to standardize evaluation and avoid duplication of efforts in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia, according to Shirley McCandless, administator for educational computing in Louisiana.
The seven states, all members of the Southeast Regional Council for Educational Improvement, have a history of cooperation in educational matters, she said.
A master list of computer programs to be evaluated in Project SEED has been compiled from submissions by teachers from each state. States will be assigned programs to review in several subject areas, and their results will be made available to districts in the other states through a central clearinghouse in North Carolina, Ms. McCandless said.
To ensure uniform applicability, evaluations will be made by teachers in the classroom, using criteria agreed upon by all the states.
The first full round of reviews is expected to begin in January and be completed by April.
The Ohio Education Computer Network has purchased $3.5 million-worth of computers from the Digital Equipment Corporation to further develop what is believed to be the largest public-school computer network in the nation.
The network now provides computer services for 587 Ohio districts, according to John Parsons, Executive Secretary of the Management Council of the oecn
He said that by developing a system in which districts can access software over phone lines from the 27 operating mainframe centers, the districts will not have to purchase their own software and will have access to sophisticated programs they could not use without a mainframe.
"Member school districts have saved over $125,000 in maintenance costs and over $500,000 in equipment purchases during the current school year," said Mr. Parsons.
Formed in 1979, oecn is jointly funded by member districts and the state department of education.
A novel program in Connecticut is using computers to link children from two schools that are geographically close but culturally separated.
Students at the Annie Fischer Elementary School in Hartford, which has a predominantly minority enrollment, and the Edward Morley Elementary School in West Hartford, an affluent suburb, have been communicating with each other through computers linked by an electronic mail service donated for the year by MCI Inc.
Spokesmen for the program say its goal is to foster communication between students from diverse backgrounds while improving the way they gather and sort information, write reports and letters, and communicate with their teachers and peers.
To establish a common ground, students on both ends of the computer line are studying course materials on dinosaurs and Halley's Comet developed for the program in cooperation with the Science Museum of Connecticut.
The science museum will serve as the common resource for both schools, and several special museum tours and parties are planned throughout the year to bring the two groups of students together, said Judy Robbins, public-relations director for the museum.--ws
Vol. 05, Issue 13