More than three-fourths of teachers, administrators, and librarians polled by a tchnology trade group believe access to the "information highway'' will reshape classroom teaching for the better.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based American Electronics Association released the survey, "Building the National Information Infrastructure in K-12 Education: A Comprehensive Survey of Attitudes Toward Linking Both Sides of the Desk," last week.
The poll was conducted by the Center for Telecommunications Management at the University of Southern California. The center surveyed members of eight national education groups: the American Association of School Librarians, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Education Association, the National Rural Education Association, and the National School Boards Association.
More than 75 percent of the respondents said access to the National Information Infrastructure, the government's name for the system of computer networks commonly known as the information highway, will help improve students' motivation and lessen teachers' reliance on obsolete curriculum materials.
"There was a very strong feeling that the N.I.I. would dramatically expand the learning horizon for students," said ERIC Benhamou, the president and chief executive officer of 3Com Corporation and the chairman of the electronics trade groups N.I.I. electronics trade group's N.I.I. task force.
He noted, for example, that access to the Internet and other electronic networks can theoretically provide instantaneous access to the latest information on almost any subject. By comparison, he added, the average textbook in a California classroom is more than 20 years old.
Mr. Benhamou also noted that 80 percent of respondents cited a lack of technological training as a significant obstacle to effective use of the information highway in classrooms.
But, he said, similar concerns arose in a previous study of attitudes in the business community toward deploying and using the information highway in the workplace.
"This is not an issue that is specific to education," he said.
The survey also found that while many school libraries are relatively well equipped to serve as gateways to the information highway, "technology deployment lags where it is needed the most--in the classroom."