But the study, commissioned by the Software Publishers Association, refutes a commonly held belief that technology by itself can effect changes in student performance.
In the study, entitled "Report on the Effectiveness of
Microcomputers in Schools," two researchers for Interactive Educational
Systems Design Inc., a private consulting firm, discuss the findings of
a review of more than 60 published and unpublished papers and journal
articles that appeared between
986 and 1990.
The authors, Ellen Bialo and Jay Sivin, conclude that "the potential of technology to stimulate important changes in the school learning environment is real--and should be exploited."
But, they add, "technology cannot affect the ways in which students and teachers interact by itself."
The most important consideration, they say, is putting technology into the hands of "teachers skilled at structuring effective learning environments."
Such teachers, they add, must also be willing to be "flexible in the roles they will play" in the restructured classroom.
Like all educators, competent computer-using educators, the authors argue, must lecture, tutor, and pose "thought-provoking questions."
However, they also will have to adopt new roles, such as "project manager" and "diagnostician," the authors say.
The Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, a well-known developer of educational software for the K-12 market, has been sold to an affiliate of North American Fund II, a specialty acquisition fund, for an undisclosed sum.
MECC was established in 1976 as a service agency to provide computer expertise to Minnesota public schools.
It evolved into a state-owned public corporation that currently sells software to schools in every state and to schools in several other countries.
Dale LaFrenz, MECC's president and chief executive officer, was optimistic that the concern, which will continue to produce software for the precollegiate-education market, will benefit from the increased capital generated by the sale.
The North American Fund II, which is backed by such investors as the
University of Texas and Ameritech's pension fund, is "positioned well
to provide the research-and-development funds needed to nurture the
company and to provide the software necessary for schools in the
1990's," Mr. LaFrenz said.--P.W.