Education Chat

Technology Counts 2007: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Our guests and readers discussed how the use of educational technology has changed in K-12 schools over the past 10 years.

Technology Counts 2007: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
Nov. 17, 2006

Guests: Larry Cuban, education historian and professor of education emeritus at Stanford University; Sara Hall, deputy director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association; Don Knezek, chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education; and Keith R. Krueger, chief executive officer of the Consortium for School Networking.

Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):
Welcome to today’s online chat to talk about how the use of educational technology has changed in K-12 schools over the past 10 years.

Today’s discussion is an opportunity for you to ask our panel of experts how they think the use of educational technology has changed since the release of our first Technology Counts report a decade ago, and to also weigh in on how you think technology has transformed (or not changed at all) teaching and learning. Your questions and comments will help inform our reporting for the 10th anniversary issue of the report.

We have a large volume of questions, so let’s get the discussion started ...

Question from Vicki Murray Curriculum Support Provider Sanger Unified:
What research has been done to verify that technology is making a difference in student learning? I would like to have it at my finger tips when I beg for money to increase our technology.

Keith R. Krueger:
You ask a very big question. I think we all first have to admit that the impact of technology on learning depends on how it is used.

An important piece of reseach was just released this fall by the Metiri group TechnologyinSchoolsReport.pdf From my perspective, this provides a balanced view that describes both where we are today and what is possible when technology is used to advance educational reform in powerful ways.

Another great place to start would be the Ed Tech Action Network This is a joint website brought to the community by CoSN & ISTE and is intended to arm ed tech advocates with information. Click on the tab “Why Technology in Schools” and you will see a range of topics such as:

Technology improves student achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics.

Technology improves school efficiency, productivity, and decision-making.

Technology helps teachers meet professional requirements.

Technology improves learning skills.

Technology can help schools meet the needs of all students.

Technology promotes equity and access in education.

Technology improves workforce skills.

I would encourage everyone to sign up at the Ed Tech Action Network to get alerts on policy decision being made in Washington that will dramatically determine the level of funding for technology via NCLB, as well as the fate of the E-rate. Educators need to be part of this debate.

Question from Daryl Diamond, Project Manager Education Technology Services, Broward County Public Schools:
What role do you see virtual education playing in how educators conduct their business of teaching and learning? Has the innovation become institutionalized over the past 10 years in such a way that it is capable of breaking free from the “grammar of schooling”. This is important for those of us working within the virtual arena, recognizing that it is not easy to break away from traditional formats at the core of educational practices even in a virtual classroom.

Don Knezek:
Virtual education, if you mean learning online, is growing and becoming institutionalized for some teachers and some young learners. There is no question that virtual education has a role to play in every students learning experiences ... whether complete “courses”, segments of courses, or self-directed online learning experiences. It is difficult to imagine a young learner today that will not see virtual education play a role in her/his learning future. What we must realize is that for an effective 21st century teacher the same is true ... for that teachers own learning and for that teachers teaching.

Question from Ellen Turner, Assistant Dir. PR, GeeGuides (visual arts curriculum publisher):
Which of these is the bigger block to schools adopting new technologies and integrating digital content: 1) The budgetary difficulty of keeping up with the rapid advancements in technology? or, 2) The difficulty of keeping teacher professional development up-to-date with the rapid changes in technology?, or, 3) Breaking through mental blocks among the administration and staff of publich schools regarding integration of Ed Tech in schools?

Larry Cuban:
Ellen, You give me either-or choices among barriers. If I stick with your list, I would pick the first two. Your 3rd choice assumes that administrators and staff may be opposed to integrating technology into schools and classrooms. That has not been my experience or research findings.

Question from Susan Brown, Central Middle School:
What technology do you believe should be available to students in 2006 in an ideal classroom where money is not a concern.

Don Knezek:
As general information, communication and learning technologies, students should have available to them a on demand a multimedia, internet-connected computing device with access rights that allow each student to interact with peers, faculty and experts outside the school community and to collaborate around learning. Students and teachers must be enabled as 21st century communicators, collaborators, information users and knowledge workers. Students should work with ideas and concepts in environments that reflect how the topic and field of study has evolved in an increasingly digital world. Therfore, specific digital tools for specific content and processes are appropriate -- science probes, graphing and mathematical modeling tools, concept mapping tools are all appropriae as they support learning and student productivity. And systems that facilitate student expression of ideas, concepts, opinions and other creative works are important as well.

Question from Cheri Cooke, Ph.D., Curriculum Specialist-Literacy, Stillwater Schools:
What resources are available to help students learn how to study from on-line texts? Some students--and their parents-- complain that if they do not have a standard content area textbook, they cannot study as well. Traditional study skills strategies--such as SQ3R, underlining, outlining--do not seem to work very well with the new interactive texts that publishers now offer.

Sara Hall:
I know that many states are moving toward online courseware especially for areas of study in which they struggle to find highly qualified teachers and in rural areas. With that shift comes some of these challenges. I would visit the following virtual school sites to see if they have some study guides and tips. West Virginia’s Virtual School at Florida’s Virtual School at Alabama’s ACCESS project at

There is also a national organization called NACOL that may be of assistance in this regard. Visit

If this doesn’t help, let me know at and we can dig deeper for you.

Question from Bruce Buxton, Director of Planning, The Klingenstein Center:
What intellectual results should we expect from the huge investment we are making in educational technology in our classrooms?

Larry Cuban:
Hi Bruce, Currently, the cognitive outcomes from buying and deploying new technologies to classrooms, at best, are uncertain, and, at worst, of little moment. For CEOs, the “return for investment” insofar as test score gains, critical thinking skills, improvements in writing, etc. are scant. Reasons for these results have a great deal to do with the research designs and methodologies used to determine what new technologies contribute intellectually to children and youth. Richard Clark at USC, over two decades ago, pinned down most neatly why research in this area will seldom, if ever, produce results that would convince most reasonable people of the effectiveness of technologies on learning outcomes.

Question from Jim Reece, Superintendent, Caldwell School System:
Can you name examples of technology/software that has been proven to increase learning? Are there characteristics of successful application?

Don Knezek:
There are a number of applications of technology that have played a role in improved student learning. A couple of great resources to get a feel for the eveidence that is available today are ISTE’s Center or Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) at, and a recent meta-study reported by Cisco Systems and the Metiri Group at TechnologyinSchoolsReport.pdf . We also see consistent improvement in student writing in one-to-one programs to use laptops well in writing development programs.

There clearly are characteristics of successful application of technology: 1. A shared vision and agenda for technology use. 2. Knowledgeable, skilled and persistent administrators who share leadership for technology across the school community. Attention to to context. 3. Clear expectations, communicated eloquently and often, around the use of technology. 4. Measurement and use of data to ensure educators and learners are embracing the shared vision and expectations for technology. And, use of data to determine if desiered outcomes are being achieved or if mid-implementation adjustments are warranted. 5. Meaningful response to the assessment of buy-in and effectiveness. It is critical that responses to behaviors and effectiveness are meaningful to all members of the school community.

Question from Thomas Nemmer, Director of Technology, Hamburg CSD:
In “The World is Flat” Thomas Friedman challenges American Education to answer the call for more Science and Engineering students. How shall we respond? What is technology’s role in that response?

Larry Cuban:
Higher salaries for teachers in poor, largely minority rural and urban schools; ensure that schools like the above are handsomely funded and not under-resourced as they are now; provide more state and federal financial aid for needy students to go to college; insure that science, math, and other teachers receive sustained and well-endowed professional development.

The absence of any mention of technology is intentional because I do not believe that the presence of computers, hand-held devices,and the latest software have very much to do with high schools and colleges cranking out more science and engineering graduates.

Question from Joe Petrosino, Mid Career Student , Penn:
Educational Technology has streamlined education in many ways. However, if there is not a community of trust established, then how can school leaders get the faculty to embrace the use of PDA’s, WiFi, laptops etc. Can technology be used to increase trust in a school community?

Keith R. Krueger:
I think what you are asking is how do you get teachers and staff who are reluctant to use technology to begin embracing it. The evidence is clear that it starts with the leadership, both at district and building level. It is critical that principals and superintendents provide a vision for why technology is important. That said, use of technology is not an end in itself. Technology must be used to achieve the mission of education - which is learning. It is also increasing evident that teachers need to understand how ed tech improves learning and to focus on the pedagogy. Finally, we have to realize that teachers, like any population adapting to use of new tools, will have those who are early, middle and laggards in terms of adoption. School districts should focus on helping move each teacher up the value chain so that they can powerfully use technology to improve student learning. This is a long-term process and requires leadership, vision, undersstanding the pedagogy and new ways of providing PD.

Question from Robert A. Levin, Educational Consultant, Newton, MA:
How close are school districts to being able to eliminate VHS and DVD materials for classroom and professional development use, and rely instead on live downloads on-demand? (And greetings to you, Larry!)

Larry Cuban:
And a robust hello to you--nice to hear from you. In visiting many schools in three urban districts in 2004 and 2005 and seeing two high-tech magnets in 2006, I can say with confidence that in those districts and schools DVDs and VHS were in great supply (but not necessarily in demand). In one district with electronic whiteboards in their middle schools, I did see live downloads but that was it.

Question from Thomas Nemmer, Director of Technology, Hamburg CSD:
How can local districts encourage better state level recognition of the value of technolgy in education and, therefore, better fiscal support?

Sara Hall:
The state level employee that we work with in all fifty states plus DC and the American Samoa are firmly committed to the effective uses of technology in schools. In most all cases they struggle, as you may imagine, with the funding of ed-tech currently. We have seen a renewed trend toward investment in these innovative approaches at the state level (Examples = PA, UT and KY).

I would suggest contacting your SETDA representative and providing them with specific examples of how technology is being used in your schools. Make sure to include data about how this investment is increasing student achievement. I would also tie all your arguments to the notion of keeping your students competitive in a global economy. Make the case for “scaling up.” Your SETDA member is a champion for technology within your state - I can guarantee that much. Go to and find your state representative.

Additionally, as an organization we are working on developing tools that will help SETDA members communicate better with state level legislators. We will be using specific examples of what kinds of educational programs are working throughout the US and providing “talking points” that make the case for added technology funding at the state level.

I do think providing solid examples to your SETDA represenative will make their case much stronger - the national perspective coupled with the local district and school examples will be very powerful.

Question from Izabel Duarte - IT coordinator at The British School of Rio de Janeiro:
I think technology has truly changed and impacted education in he past ten years. However many teachers are still very resistant to infusing technology to their lessons, specially older teachers (the digital immigrants). How do you think we can make this transition easier and also help them use technology efficiently in the classroom?

Keith R. Krueger:
I think first, we need to step back and say “What can technology do for learning that we couldn’t do without it?”. If we answer that question, I bet that most teachers will rush to its adoption. I am not sure I completely agree with you that it is the difference between young vs. old teachers. In fact, we are seeing evidence that “master” teachers (who most likely are older) are the most likely to powerfully use technology. I think the core problem is that in most classrooms, most schools and most districts, we are simply layering technology on top of what we are already doing. And, if you do that, you will get only marginal impact.

Question from Denise Mancieri, Doctoral Student, Johnson & Wales University; business/technology teacher, North Kingstown HS:
What is an effective technology practice most teachers could institute in their lessons that we are not currently doing. I am not referring to transcribing one’s classnotes into a powerpoint presentation, but something teachers could adapt into their routine without feeling the pressure of another task to be done, that would engage our students and breath life into our lessons.

Larry Cuban:
There is no one particular technology practice that most teachers can easily adapt into their routines without feeling the pressure of another task. Most teachers want to use technology in their classrooms but the decisions to buy and use particular computers and software have been too often made by administrators and not teachers. Were teachers to have made (or make now) those decisions, my guess is that there would be a series of concrete practices using existing machines and software that would be suggested by teachers.

Question from Brad Henry, Student, The Ohio State University:
I am currently researching technology in K-12 classrooms. The research that I am uncovering concludes that where technology solutions are being implemented there is very little evaluation or studies completed in the learning styles of the learner. The lack of standards have left the decision making process to a local level that typically based on the purchasers personal evalution. Do you foresee a set of academic and pedalogical standards for implementing ELL/REL/ESL technology. Do you feel there is any benefit to the state standard tests when using technology? What is the value-add and how is is that being measured?

Sara Hall:
Very good question - And one that this community has grappled with for some time. As you know, NCLB concludes that every child shall by “technology literate” by the 8th grade. The law and the USDOE stopped short of defining this or providing measures in which to assess technology literacy.

Since this has been left up to the states to define, there is very little national data on this topic which makes fighting for federal funding difficult. SETDA put together a brief definition which most states used as a basis for their definition, but how that definitation translates into data about student preformance is another matter.

I am less familiar with the ELL/REL/ESL relationship to technology, but generally getting at the value add is difficult. We can measure skills such as proficiencies but getting at the collaboration, community building, increased engagement, and high level critical thinking that technology brings is a challenge.

I did see that ETS put out a report recently on this topic - menuitem.c988ba0e5dd572bada20bc47c3921509/ ?vgnextoid=340051e5122ee010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD &vgnextchannel=dd2d253b164f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD

I also know the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is doing very good work around this question at

I hope this helps - SETDA could write a book on this subject with the numerous changes in direction from the USDOE, etc. Please feel free to contact me for more information at

Question from Paul J. Smith, Ed.D., Facilitator, Accelerated Learning Center (ACC), Little Rock School District:
Don Knezek, why is it so important that students/staffs learn as much as possible about edtech?

Don Knezek:
Hi, Paul. The simple answer is that technology is looming in every students future if they intend to learn, work, and participate in an increasingly digital global society. Also, for teachers, they are losing an whole generation of learners if they aren’t capable of meeting learners near their level of digital competence. Also, to take full advantage of the rich new digital learning landscape, and the resources within it, takes significant competence and knowledge.

Question from Joseph Matz, retired secondary Electronics Technology teacher, Schuylkill County, PA Area Career Center:
Having taught technology in a totally computer delivered and managed training process, I have much faith in the use of the latest available devices, however I have some concerns that poor educator supervision may lead some students into a game-type mentality approach to learning. With all of the advancement that the U.S. is experiencing in technology, why are we losing the battle for global leadership in engineering and engineering technology areas? Why are our students drifting away from the scicences as career possibilities at the same time that they are completely engrossed in computers?

Larry Cuban:
Dear Joseph, The answers to your two very different questions have less to do with the quality of schooling students receive in K-12 than out-of-school factors such as dominant values in popular culture, national and state leadership in finding and targeting resources for schools, etc. It is common for leaders and pundits to blame schools for not doing enough to solve national and global problems such as economic competition, national defense, racial and ethnic friction, and gross inequalities in distribution of wealth. Surely, schools play a part in attracting students to careers in science and math. But schools are the one institution that is also charged with socializing children to dominant values in the culture, promoting patriotism, inculcating moral character, preparing students for careers, and, oh yes, ensuring literacy for all students. Turning to schools to solve problems is an American response that diverts attention from social, political, and economic structures within the U.S. that have a lot to do with answering the two questions you ask.

Question from Carole Hayes, Educational Policy Analyst, Board of Governors, State University System of Florida:
Please comment on the effects of technology in providing classroom teachers with readily accessible teaching tools as well as professional development (recertification and continuing education)enhancement.

Sara Hall:
SETDA believes strongly that professional development must be consistent, timely and relevant to a teachers daily work. We believe that online and virtual learning opportunities are uniquely suited to accomplish this. We have seen examples where online professional develop provides these key components in a way that high quality school site professional development can not deliver. (That is not to say that we should go fully to online professional development - but we should leverage the unique aspects of technology delivered training when it makes sense.) There is a place for both. In Iowa they are using video conferencing to pull math teachers together from all parts of the state. During their consistent virtual meetings they are provided with high level instruction, time to collaborate, and critiques of their own teaching practices. This form of professional development has yielded amazing results in student achievement. I do not think online professional development is always the answer, but it can create this dynamic and consistent feedback mechanism where teachers are engaged in training that directly relates to their work. Again - key elements to the PD success.

Question from Dru Duniway:
What are schools using for technology literacy curriculum?

Don Knezek:
Some schools are using “technology literacy curriculum” designed at the district or state levels or adopted from a provider such as However, many schools, districts and states have taken standards to guide learning acitivities and embed technology literacy content into core disciplines. The approach to developing technology literate students varies widely ... highlighting the importance of clear standards so that students develop with skills that put them on an even competitive playing field when it comes to digital tools in student learning and student productivity.

Question from Paul J. Smith, Ed.D., Facilitator, Accelerated Learning Center (ACC), Little Rock School District:
How do effective schools use edtech?

Larry Cuban:
Dear Paul, Effective schools use technologies (both old and new) to help reach instructional objectives. As the cliche goes, “it is not about technology, it is about learning.” To me, this means, effective schools use old technologies (e.g., paper and pen, books, face-to-face meetings with students) to meet learning objectives. When management information systems are easily accessible to teachers in making instructional decisions, effective schools use them. You get the picture.

Question from Maria Hernandez, Education Student, TAMU- Texarkana:
I would like to know what kind of technology is available for teaching purposes and how this technology can be beneficial to the students as well as the teaacher.

Keith R. Krueger:
You ask a very large question. But, I think inherent in your question is something very important. You are asking about the student. I think as we think about technology in schools, we need to focus on our “customer”. And, I believe, our customer is the student (in addition to more traditional views of the parent, teacher and community as “customers”). Does your school ask your students what technologies they are using? Do you look at the NetDay surveys of students to see what they are saying about use of technology, both a home and in school, in an unfiltered way? Have you formed a Student Advisory Group on Technology to advise your district/school?

I believe we should examine the tools that students use in their non-school lives and then educators should determine if there is a way to use them in an educational environment. For example, kids love iPods. Most schools ban them. Innovative teachers are finding that letting kids use podcasting technologies to prepare reports is a great way of engaging them, building creativity and can be done to develop team-building.

That said, simply because kids use a technology, doesn’t mean all those technologies should be used in the classroom. We as educators should think about the educational uses of these new tools. And, we should not simply ban technology without examining their educational uses. At CoSN we like to say, “Think Before Banning” as a motto.

Question from Ada Ortolaza, Child Care Health Consultant, Division for Children:
Technology and the school system, How can this benefit or affect the development of our children’s growth? How is going to benefit or affect the mental health of a child? Especially our youngest kids. Is the goverment doing something to help the thousands of people that are still below the poverty level that can’t afford to have internet access at home or may not have a computer but due to the advancement in technology more teachers give lots of homework and most of it a computer is needed to complete it?

Larry Cuban:
Dear Ada, The issue of computer effects on young children (below 6 years of age) is unknown. Wise parental oversight of computer use at home is essential for children and teens. As for closing the “digital gap” between middle and low-income families, in schools, the latest data I have seen show that poor and middle class children are fairly close in terms of high-tech access. Home use, of course, differs greatly. In schools, most teachers in poor, largely minority schools know that they must give their students access to computers in the classroom, school labs, and media centers to get work done.

Question from Emily Goldberg, Consultant:
Is there a significant difference between the integration of technology in large urban schools (i.e., NYC) and other public school environments?

Larry Cuban:
Dear Emily, Without knowing how you define “integration of technology,” all I can say is that, by and large, big city systems have a checkered pattern of computer use--occasional schools first-rate, most schools, missing-in-action. Barbara Means wrote a book on high-tech use in urban high schools a few years ago and pointed out all of the barriers in big city districts. Affluent suburban schools and certain well-endowed urban schools do have the advantages of scale, money, managerial expertise, and systematic and sustained professional development with on-site technical help.

Question from Paul J. Smith, Ed.D., Facilitator, Accelerated Learning Center (ACC), Little Rock School District:
Keith R. Krueger, how does school networking and edtech benefit the students/staff?

Keith R. Krueger:
First, technology’s impact is dependent on how it is used. I like to compare technology in schools with the experience in the corporate sector. We know when Lester Thurow (MIT prof who won the Nobel Prize in Economics) looked at the impact of technology in the corporate sector when technology was first implemented (late 1980’s) he found no or negative impact on productivity. When we looked again in the mid-1990’s, he completely changed his mind. That was because the private sector had changed their business processes, and used technology to enable that transformation.

I believe schools are in a similar place to where business was 10-15 years ago. We primarily are layering technology on top of what we already were doing. And, that means we will get marginal impact.

That said, I continue to believe that ed tech holds the promise of being able to transform education...IF we understand that we first need to step back and understand our mission and redefine the process for accomplishing that mission. Technology has transformed nearly every other industry sector. It can (and does) change education when it is powerfully applied.

My own assessment is that in most school districts, technology is still thought of as “one more thing we do”. It is a vertical department that is bi-furcated into instructional and administrative/MIS departments. A much more powerful way to think about technology is as a horizonal, enable the entire enterprise of education. In districts which do this, we see they have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) reporting to the Superintendent and is part of the Cabinet. Those districts see that technology enables their entire educational reform efforts.

If you approach technology in this horizonal way, then you tie together all the data in the district. You move beyond simply reporting up high stakes information and enable teachers with both summative AND formative data on where students are today which enables you to individualize the learning experience for each student. That is the promise of technology in education.

Question from Jeff Cole, Fourth Grade Teacher, Bishop School, Sunnyvale School District:
We recently adopted standards based report cards that we can complete electronically, however, all the assessment data is made on paper. Now I have an increaced number of paper records to keep for all the core subjects plus an ELD report card (about 65% of my students are EL). Standards based electronic assessments and quizess could relieve me of a lot of paper work and grading, and help me focus on delivering quality teaching. What is the state of the major text publishers and electronic testing and what can we expect in the future?

Don Knezek:
Online, embedded, adaptive assessment is the low hanging fruit (not quite the silver bullet) for technology use to improve instruction and the payoff ... return on investment ... is relatively quick ... short recoup time ... when the assessments are available.

I’m not sure how accomplished I am in timing the future, but I am betting that technology assisted assessment is set to blossom ... and we’re talking years, not decades!

Question from Beverly Booker, Master’s candidate AIUonline:
Are many older teacher’s resistant to new technology? Is tnis new technology attracting more “techies” to the teaching field?

Larry Cuban:
Yes, Beverly, many older teachers are resistant to using new technology in their classrooms. So are many younger teachers. The issue is not age or gender when it comes to technology use in classrooms. The issues are who decides on buying and deploying hardware and software; whether teachers are actively (rather than as tokens) involved in those decisions; on-site help to teachers both technical and professional; the continuing complexity of the technology--laptops and other machines are far from being as easy to use as toasters, stoves, telephones, and TV (oops! forgot about the remote.

Question from Vince Rosato, teacher, Searles Elementary:
What do you think teachers and district employees can do in districts where Information and Communication Technology (ITC) Literacy integration into core subjects is taking the back seat to media literacy in the context of top down, hierarchically pet “Strategic Plans”?

Don Knezek:
Interesting question! I worry about some of the 21st Century literacies as they focus very little on use of information and knowledge beyond simply ‘rebuilding’ a new information product and communicating it ... which is a very, very important skill. But, applying analysis and modeling, for example, through the use of digital tools in sciences and social sciences seems left out in many of those frameworks. So I would find those rich applications of ICTs (and learning technologies) that go beyond “information literacy” and “media literacy”. Making the case that the realm of putting information to WORK in decision-making and creativity needs development too in our 21st century learners might be one strategy.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
Is it possible that technology, equipped with data processing power and impressive images, has created the hallucination that processed data (numbers, charts, graphs)is equivalent to observing, discussing, and analyizing student work? Oh, Pat Carrini, where are you when we need you?

Larry Cuban:
Hi Miles, Yes, it is possible.

Question from Pam Cockrell, Mathematics Teacher, Ashland High School:
I have a room full of technology. My students are engaged with many forms of technology everyday including graphing calculators, computer software, the Internet, a Smart Board, computer-based laboratory equipment and I still wonder if a computer-based assessment offers the same results as a paper assessment.

According to a report by the NAEP on their 2001 and 2002 projects to study ONLINE assessments and WRITTEN assessments respectively, that I found online at, MATH assessments ONLINE resulted significantly different from MATH assessments in paper form due to the student’s computer skill level.

Do you think students have acquired the necessary computer skills over the past 10 years in order to perform as well today on a computer-based mathematics assessment compared to the results of one given on paper?

Don Knezek:
If they haven’t progressed (and they haven’t all) then shame, shame on us! We all know students need Information, Communication, and Learning Technology skills (as well as traditionally literacy) to achieve, compete, and fully participate in this digital, global society. And with fairly widespread results indicating only about 1/5 for fifth graders and about 1/3 of eighth graders show ICT competence an age-appropriate levels, we still cut programs, funding, and expectations for leveling the playing field through education. Your concern that we really don’t know if we’re testing foundation ICT skills, and competencies with learning technologies when a student fails an online, digital academic assessment is very legit. What do you suppose will happen when that student tries to apply for a job, carry on an interview in a digital environment, or engage in higher education and lifelong learning?

Question from Paul J. Smith, Ed.D., Facilitator, Accelerated Learning Center (ACC), Little Rock School District:
Larry Cuban, what are the most effective universities doing to help teachers get prepared for their role in the public schools concerning edtech? You might consider covering the new teacher education as well as edtech education needed for experienced teachers?

Larry Cuban:
Paul, When university teacher ed programs insure that their graduates are practical problem solvers and have a wide repertoire of instructional approaches geared to the subject matter they teach, they are on the road to effectively producing novice teachers who can survive the first three years of teaching. All teacher ed programs like medical schools and law schools produce incomplete professionals who learn on the job. Technology fits into the program as another way for novices to solve instructional problems they will face in their first assignment in schools.

Question from Dana Peterman, Librarian, Yale University:
How do most K-12 students and teachers today have access to and use resources, like academic databases, that will prepare them for later success as critical thinkers and lifelong learners?

Sara Hall:
Most states have been quite active in creating educational portals for their teachers and students. Some examples include Alabama’s ACCESS at and Pennsylvania’s Education Hub Project at

I think the challenge is in usage - It takes leadership at the state, district, and local school building level to provide the professional development, communication, and time for teachers to fully embrace these tools and resources.

SETDA finds that these kinds of resource repositories are very effective in building online communities, teacher cadres around subject matter, and offering necessary resources when coupled with the key elements mentioned above.

Question from Thom Burns, Australian Science and Mathematics School:
Could you explain the eudcational connection between students use of mobile devices, phones, MSN, skype and skills for knowledge economies. We know students learn and collaborate in different ways but what value is that new style of learning?

Larry Cuban:
Dear Thom, The informal learning that children and youth pick up outside of school is enormous as you suggest in your question. I would add video games to your list. The question is whether those skills and knowledge should be incorporated into the formal curriculum and classroom lessons. Champions of informal learning say yes. Champions of formal curriculum standards, testing, and accountability say “whoa, schools have to focus on preparing everyone for college and careers and can’t do everything.” This ideological tug-of-war (in the U.S. sometimes labeled “progressive vs. traditional”) has been in play since the late-19th century and is most obvious in the reading and math “wars” currently. Note, Thom, that I have not directly answered your question. I believe that many ways of learning are of value, not any particular one.

Question from Jenn Weinberg, Product Manager, ETA/Cuisenaire:
What can educational publishers do to make it easier for schools to buy and use technology products?

Sara Hall:
My best advice is to tie your products to core curriculum, standards and always reference student achievement gains. Also, make sure you offer adequate, effective professional development at the classroom level.

I would also get involved in advocacy efforts at local, state and federal levels to promote the effective use of technology in schools. We see that technology is “assumed” - but reality is that we are not there yet in terms of technology’s instructional potential.

Send groups like us your success stories especially if you have solid data that is tied to student achievement.

I hope this helps!

Question from Sabra Otterness, Business Technology Teacher, Hillsborough County, Florida:
Is partnering with industry key to meet the challenge of getting the correct techology and training for student achievement? In my Digital Design classroom I am adding digital fabric printers and digital embroidery to the traditional paper print methods and am finding a whole new interest in the curriculum. I work with a company from California to learn the new equipment technology to add to the curriculum, it is helping both the company and students advance.

Don Knezek:
Partnering is good .... it is critical that not only students, but educators see what industry is really doing with technology ... especially those industries that relate most closely to the content being addressed. We must acknowledge how technology has changed the disciplines if we expect to experience relevant curriculum and relevant technology use.

Question from Linda Stoll, recently certified in Bus/Comp Tech:
What do you think is the most important aspect of technology that we have to prepare High School students?

Larry Cuban:
Dear Linda, The most important aspect of technology that high school students should have is critical thinking skills applied to all information communicated through old and new technologies (sometimes called media literacy).

Question from :
Dennis DiBona, consultant, speaker and a retired Tech Specialist Broward County School System . My Question: Please share your vision of what public schools will look like in the next decade, or 2, especially for the visually impaired , blind students from early elementarty through university work..what is on the drawing board for usage of talking equipment that reads through written/visual entire contents, graphic descriptions etc for the blind so equal access is accomplished. Right now it is spotty at best.

Keith R. Krueger:
First of all, education in the U.S. is very decentralized. So, I suspect that the 16,000 school districts, plus private/charter/indpendent schools, will have lots of differing visions.

What I really think you are asking is: How can technology be used to enable children with special needs to succeed?

My sense is that assistive technologies are making a difference for many children. It is certainly not perfect, but tools like voice recognition software certainly makes it possible for blind students to not be left behind.

One of the areas that CoSN has been working is: How do we get our school networks to provide accessible technologies for ALL students? Our sense is that in most school districts, we are not very far along in thinking about accessibility for all students.

For example, I just mentioned the use of voice recognition software. As I have already said, it is critical if you are blind. But, that software is also very useful for kids with English as a second language. In fact, it is useful for those of us who learn better by hearing.

Yet, in most districts, the folks responsible for general IT defer this topic to their special education department. I believe accessibility is a critical element and most of our school networks are much too narrowly niche-ing technologies that could benefit all kids. And, it is VERY expensive to deploy assistive technologies to one kid at a time on one work station at a time.

We have a great resource on this topic which is at We really need a new conversation in most school districts over accessibility.

Question from Mary S. Platner, Special Ed Teacher, Scottsdale Unified Schools:
When states are graded for their ratio of computers to students, does the rating take into account the age and processor capabilities of the computers? There are many ancient computers in schools that support only basic Internet service and word processing; forget video streaming and the requirements of today’s instructional software.

Sara Hall:
You are right - they simply calculate the ratio and do not take into account where or when they were acquired. Same with that “92%" school connectivity stastic used by the USDOE.

We need to get away from these arbitrary benchmarks - We are still talking about computers with nouns when students talk about them with verbs. What are computers doing for education instead of how many boxes and wires exist.

CoSN did some great work on this subject in the Total Cost of Ownership Manual - go to to review it.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
From being in different K-12 schools, I have the overall impression that technology and its benefits have hardly touched the schooling lives of low income children. What is the data on distribution?

Sara Hall:
I don’t have data on this specifically - I do know that EETT (Ed Tech funding in NCLB) is distributed based on the Title One Formula. It seems the politics around Title One money is that it is already spent before it comes in the state department door so using it for technology interventions is unlikely. Although allowable, the leadership and knowlege of such interventions lies in another part of the state department.

All that said, I would make a broader statement that technology and its benefits have hardly been touched in ALL schools. National Blue Ribbon Schools are not using technology to its instructional potential - In my humble opinion. :)

Question from Ellen Karnowski, Teacher , Lake County, California:
How can technology help students with learning and attention problems?

Don Knezek:
There are a number of programs and products targeted at students special challenges around learning. I recommend you refer to, connect with the Council for Exceptional Children, and visit ISTE’s Special Education and Technology Special Interest Group (SETSIG) at the bottom of the drop-down menu under MEMBERSHIP at I believe the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) at may have a recent publication on that topic.

Question from Monica Wiesmann-Hirchert; English Language Fellow Program; Ankara, Turkey:
What advice would you give to someone working on integrating technology into the English as a Foreign Language curricula abroad? Which resorces/tools would you consider to be a must to introduce to our international colleagues?

Don Knezek:
E-mail and chat/IM wouldn’t be bad starts. Software that provides vocabulary and pronunciation support and assessment. Multimedia resources that celebrate diverse cultures.

Question from Jacquelyn Kamin, Community Affairs Director:
How do we justify investing in school technology, given the fact that student achievement in reading, writing, math, etc. has not improved in the several decades during which public expenditures in school technology have vastly expanded?

Don Knezek:
Check out resources that show that technology can improve student learning: > education/TechnologyinSchoolsReport.pdf . >

How do we continue to justify the incredible expense over decades of textbooks when we aren’t seeing improvement in core content supported by textbooks?

Question from Hayes Mizell, Distinguished Senior Fellow, National Staff Development Council:
What is known about the impact of online professional development on teacher performance? Can it truly impact pedagogy as well as teachers’ knowledge? Can online p.d. yield powerful results to the same extent as high-quality, collegial learning that occurs at the school site?

Sara Hall:
SETDA believes strongly that professional development must be consistent, timely and relevant to a teachers daily work. We believe that online and virtual learning opportunities are uniquely suited to accomplish this.

We have seen examples where online professional develop provides these key components in a way that high quality school site professional development can not deliver. (That is not to say that we should go fully to online professional development - but we should leverage the unique aspects of technology delivered training when it makes sense.)

There is a place for both. In Iowa they are using video conferencing to pull math teachers together from all parts of the state. During their consistent virtual meetings they are provided with high level instruction, time to collaborate, and critiques of their own teaching practices. This form of professional development has yielded amazing results in student achievement.

I do not think online professional development is always the answer, but it can create this dynamic and consistent feedback mechanism where teachers are engaged in training that directly relates to their work. Again - key elements to the PD success.

Question from Carol S McFarland, Education Consultant:
What are your recommendations for middle school teachers (gr. 6-8) in instructing the research process, as youth tend to abandon the traditional research in lieu of the internet where not all information is accurate. How do you suggest teachers balance this?

Larry Cuban:
Dear Carol, I was in a middle school yesterday and watched three teachers use 1:1 laptops in language arts, science, and social studies lessons. One of the three teachers had spent a few weeks early in the semester teaching his sixth graders about critically examining sources they will be drawing from on the web. He taught them about biased sources, how to critically evaluate claims--even taught them Bloom’s taxonomy. Most middle school students do not know the difference between a dot-com and a dot-org source on the web. An elementary distinction that students (and teachers) ought to know. Media literacy is what this is called in many places and I suggest that is the direction that teachers should consider.

Question from Dale Bendsak, Instructor, Morris County School of Technology:
If we accept the concept that technology should supplement, not supplant curriculum - how can we make sure that this happens, especially on a high school level when proficiencies are increasingly based on learning software features.

Larry Cuban:
A fine question, Dale. I do not believe that learning software applications will swamp the curriculum. If you do, the way to go, I believe, is to continually focus on critical thinking skills, perhaps, by having students come to understand the logic and assumptions anchored in the software applications themselves or simply using those applications in academic subjects where critical thinking and assessment of sources can be more easily done.

Question from Paula Shelton, Smart Lab Facilitator,
Do you think the digital divide gap is still as wide as ever or is it closing?

Larry Cuban:
Hi Paula, If by “digital gap” you mean access to new technologies by poor children as compared to technologies available to middle/upper middle class children, then, yes, that gap has closed tremendously for poor children in school and only partially closed for access at home. Ed Week’s “Technology Counts” issue several years ago documented that closing of the gap in schools.

Question from Joyce Malyn-Smith, Principal Investigator of NSF ITEST (Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers) Learning Resource Center:
As Principal Investigator of NSF’s ITEST Learning Resource Center, we have found that many youth are developing a wide range of sophisticated technology skills in after school and other informal learning environments. When teachers are assessing the “prior learning” of their incoming students, what tools or strategies are they using to assess learning that has taken place in students’ out of school experiences?

Keith R. Krueger:
Telling an NSF researcher the answer may be a bit like bringing coal to Newcastle.

That said, I would suggest the following: I think that schools can use a range of new (largely free) online survey tools to determine technology use and satisfaction by students (as well as parents).

My related hope is that school districts will begin moving to use more powerful uses of data-driven decisionmaking. Right now we tend to focus only on high stakes test data...but we need to pull all kinds of formative information into the teachers/principals/districts hands to enable more personalized instruction. I would hope that educators are thinking about how to include non-school data into their decision-making.

Hope that somewhat answers your question.

Question from Ed Lyell, Professor, Adams State College, Colorado, former member Colorado Board of Education, etc:
Why is it that we have proven for over 30 years that individualized, self paced computer assisted learning is the best and most productive for learners and yet it exists in only a small percentage of situations? I worked with Patrick Suppes on this at Stanford in the 1960’s. Wrote a thesis on CAI in 1970, and have been frustrated for decades that schools will not abandon old, almost useless classroom based strategies. Instead they only try to add technology to the older, very ineffective paradigm. Every other industry transforms itself with technology, not just embellishes.

Larry Cuban:
Dear Ed, Short answer to your compex question: schools have adapted most classroom-directed reforms because age-graded schools are social institutions that have learning as one of many societal purposes they are expected to achieve. The age-graded school structure introduced in the mid-19th century and goals of socializing the young and preparing them for jobs mean that school organization,curriculum, instruction, testing have to do more than individualize learning. That’s the short answer

Question from Mirna Andrade-Salgado, Director of Information Technology, The Post Oak School:
What resources are available for educating both parents and students on the use of social directory websites such as, instant messaging and blogs?

Keith R. Krueger:
CoSN just did a webcast on this very topic this past week. the title was Keeping Students Secure in a MySpace World and you can listen to the one-hour program in archive format by going to CoSN catalogue at mycosn/store/ ?storecat=2006-2007%20Webcast%20Series

Two great resources I would suggest. First, go to the resource created by the National Cyber Security Alliance. CoSN worked with them to create a great resource on this topic.

Also, go to CoSN’s leadership initiative called Cyber Security for the Digital District. It is chock full of free resources to help technology leaders think through safety and security issues in a learning environment. As we like to say, the only really secure network is one that is unplugged and unused. So, you need to make choices and you need to be prepared when the unexpected happens..which is will.

Question from Paul J. Smith, Ed.D., Facilitator, Accelerated Learning Center (ACC), Little Rock School District:
Sara Hall, how do State Departments of Education help the development of edtech? What are the most effective states doing to help?

Sara Hall:
Each state has an employee that is tasked with education technology - they are various levels within the department and thus have varying leverage points for promoting the use of education technology.

I would say that Pennsylvania is a leader in terms of the development of education technology. They just passed a legislative initiative that addresses School Reform - but the basis of the program is using technology to increase teacher quality and student achievement.

Texas is also very active. They have infused online content into their adoption process which ultimately will help increase the use of these innovative approaches within the state and nationally.

Virginia is another state that is driving change in education through technology. They have tied their legislative initiatives to online assessment and individualized instruction through the use of good data. This has provided them with ample opportuniities to increase student achievement.

Missouri, UT, and Maine are also good examples of where using a systemic approach to the proper use of technology gets results. The eMINTs project began in Missouri and has been replicated in six other states (I believe).

I could go on - so let me know if you would more examples at

Question from Dominique Lowenthal, Ms, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists - London:
How do you feel the notion of a single an authoritative ‘truth’ has changed, and what impact do you think this is going to have on children as they grow up and enter the workforce?

By ‘authoritative truth’, I’m referring to the changing attitudes of teachers, who are becoming more open to the possibility of multiple complex answers to problems that might reside outside of textbooks and an openness to students constructing their own learning.

Larry Cuban:
Dear Dominique, I am not as certain as you that the notion of a single authoritative truth is changing to acceptance of multiple answers to a question, particularly in schools which continued to be structured in their curriculum, testing, and teaching to getting the right answer. Surely, more and more teachers and students have come to accept the idea of multiple ways of solving problems and answering questions but school structures and purposes of tax-supported public schooling work against this notion becoming pervasive in formal schooling.

Question from Paula Shelton, Smart Lab Facilitator, Friendship Collegiate Academy:
I am presently integrating the use of podcasting with my students. What would be a good way to get the adminstrators and teachers to buy-in?

Don Knezek:
One way might be to have your students interview students, teachers, parents and other community members with some intriguing questions like: > What areas of (your school) are most in need of improvement and why? > What would you tell the faculty and administration of (your school) if you had three minutes of their time (and interview for 3 minutes). > Have successful alumni record how experiences in their schooling built the foundation for their success.

I know there are tons of more creative ideas than these ... propose a birds of a feather at a professional conference you attend (or structure one virtually) and invite other educators using podcasts in their classrooms to help you out.

Question from toni alvarez, math coach, LAUSD:
I know what a digital board and a blog is but what is a wiki (mentioned in your background summary)?

Keith R. Krueger:
Wiki is a website or similar online resource which allows users to add and edit content collectively.

Sounds like you are interested in so-called Web 2.0 tools which enable Collaboration. I suggest you look at the new CoSN report on this topic called Collaboration in K-12 Schools: Anytime, Anywhere, Anyway. The free Executive Summary is at emerging_technologies/collaboration.cfm and it talks about instant messaging, blogs, wikis’, and portals in K-12 environment. You can purchase full report at CoSN website ?storecat=Emerging%20Technologies%20Reports

Question from Jeff Cole Fourth Grade Teacher, Bishop Elememtary, Sunnyvale School District:
Over half of my students are low income and do not have computers at home, let alone internet. I have always thought internet access should be more universal, kind of like there are low income bill reductions for telephone bills. What type of work is being done to bridge the digital divide?

Sara Hall:
eRate is a federal project funded through the Universal Services Fund. It is essentially a tax on your phone bill that pays for Internet connections at school. The USDOE reports that 92% of all schools are connected - unfortuneatly they do not define how robust or effective that connection is. So, we still have a ways to go in terms of school connectivity as we begin online assessments and data base driven reporting, etc.

That being said, the home/school connection is a challenge that is talked about and being addressed on a few fronts. I know that many cable companies have put programs in place to provide subsidies for less affluent families - but this is case by case. You may want to visit Cable in the Classroom at for information on this.

Additionally, Lemon Grove School District in California is doing some really amazing things on this front. They have essentially made their school building and ISP and they resell the service to the community. I believe they have a free or reduced price for kids falling under a certain financial threshold. You can find them at

Question from Doug Hearrington, Site Technology Coordinator, Saville Middle School, Clark County (Nevada) School District:
Do you think that improvements in bandwidth and web-based learning tools will eventually lead to a situation where middle and high school students will have the ability to sign-up to take classes for credit -- offered by licensed/sanctioned third party people/institutions -- outside of their current schools? If this happens, that would create a situation in which anyone with the qualifications to teach could become a teacher from his or her home and from anywhere in the world. Someone in China could offer Mandarin Chinese lessons over the Internet, for example. Do you think such a scenario will occur and if it does what will that mean for the future of the current structure of middle and high schools? What will it mean for people who are currently teachers? What skills do pre and in-service teachers need to master to compete under such circumstances? Thank you.

Sara Hall:
I do know this is an issue that people who are directly tied to the virtual school community are talking about. I would pose this question to Susan Patrick at NACOL - Website is

Sorry to punt, but I don’t have the expertise on this one!

Question from Margie Johnson, Educational Technology Specialist, Metro Nashville Public Schools:
With technology continously changing, what professional development strategies do you propose to ensure that teachers are prepared to integrate technology into the classroom?

Keith R. Krueger:
PD needs to evolve. We need to move beyond one-time, fixed PD that is mostly skills based. It needs to be real time when the educator needs it. And, we need to focus on the pedagogy and answer the question, “How does technology enable us to learn better?”. And, it needs to address where the educator is today and move them up the continuim.

I think your question also asks, “How can educators keep up with technology given the constant changes in devices, software, etc.?” First, I think educators need to ask, “What is the educational problem we are trying to solve?” Too often, we start with the technology and say, “How do we apply it in a learning environment?” It is more important to focus on the educational need than the new technology.

Most schools are unlikely to be at the forefront of the latest technology trends. We simply don’t have the resources to do that. But, we should start by focusing on what are the challenges we face in our schools and how might technology address them.

I would strongly recommend a report that CoSN did about a year ago called Hot Technology Trends. It gives educators a framework for thinking about how to use emerging technology. The free Executive Summary is at and you can purchase the full report through our catalogue.

Question from Regine Haardoerfer, Doctoral Student, Georgia State University:
Looking at technology curricula, one can get the feeling that it is not about media literacy (something that Larry Cuban just mentioned), but that technology curricula aim at teaching computer skills. Thus, I see the risk (or maybe this is the goal after all) of technology being used to do training for corporations. Even if there are higher level goals, how often are they achieved in the classroom? What is your opinion?

Keith R. Krueger:
I think this is an important distinction that “technology literacy” can be defined very narrowly to be understanding the skills of using specific applications or it can be broader to include information literacy such as Larry has suggested. My personal opinion is the latter is more important. And, I think there are even more skills than just information literacy, although that is clearly critical in a world of information overload. I think the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has done a terrific job framing the sorts of new skills that kids need to succeed. They define skills we need to make sure our kids come of of school with. We are not leaving behind the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic...but building skills like team-building, collaboration and critical thinking on top. I just returned from a five week work study in Asia/Pacific. I was surprised how countries like S. Korea and Hong Kong and particularly Singapore (which all do well on high stakes tests for math/sci) are all focused on these sorts of new competencies to enable creativity and collaboration. I am concerned that our sole focus on high stakes accountability might squeeze out our interent advantage around creativity.

Question from maryann Cooke, Teacher Sacred Heart School:
How can you in turn “teach an old dog a new trick”? How do you motivate a veteran teacher to intergrate teecnology into his/her lesson when they are resistant?

Keith R. Krueger:
This may be similar to another question I already answered. I believe the important thing to focus on is thinking through how technology really improved learning. In other words, how does ed tech change the pedagogy? I believe that teachers, whether they are young or old, will use technology IF they see that it makes a difference in their students learning.

While we digital immigrants will always have an “accent” compared to our digital natives, I do believe we can “learn new tricks”. Some will be faster than others, but good teachers want to help their students succeed...we just need to be focused in how technology does that.

Question from Linda Kelly, high school teacher, Virginia, member of the Teacher Leader Network:
As younger, more technology connected teachers are entering the profession and are incorporating technology into their teaching, schools with limited resources are experiencing a shortage of resources for teachers to share. What are your thoughts about (1)ways that schools with very limited finances can fund the growing technology needs and (2) suggestions about teachers sharing limited technology.

Sara Hall:
My personal opinion is that we should get to a point in this country where incoming teachers are treated like anyone entering the workforce in other industries - they are given the tools to do their job properly including a computer, white board or LDC projector, etc. We see that younger teachers are seeking out schools that provide these tools (North Carolina example) and more importantly they are staying! Retention and recruitment of teachers has increased in NC schools where they are providing technology.

I know we are not there yet and I believe it will take leadership at the school and district levels to ensure that the limited resources we have are used effectively and provide teachers with the basic tools they need. We are working at the state and federal levels, but it takes principals, teachers, and parents too.

To your second question, I the COWS (Computers on Wheels) seem to be an emerging solution to the computer lab.

Question from Deanna Mullins, teacher, waycross elementary:
do you thing that Web hosting companies are benificial for school districts?

Keith R. Krueger:
I think that every school district should think about what are their core competencies and determine what they feel they need to deliver vs. what services they can outsource. In addition, many school districts have concerns about any third party holding their data.

I don’t have a “one-size-fits-all” belief. CoSN is strongly committed to helping school districts ask the right questions as they come to a decision that best fits their situation.

Question from Brenda Helman, Asst. Principal, Silver Palms Elementary School:
If we were to set up a new classroom, that represents available 21st Century technology, what hardware/software would we expect to see in the modern classroom? This technology would be used by the teacher to facilitate instruction and used by the students to work independenly and collaboratively to research, and present.

Keith R. Krueger:
Interesting question you ask. As I have said in a few other responses, I don’t think there is one right answer. Given the decentralized nature of the US educational system, you can help shape the answer.

That said, I think it is important to look at visions of how technology can shape improved learning. CoSN released a report last fall which was called Digital Learning Spaces 2010. It provided three visions: one for an elementary school, one for a middle school science class, and one for a high school virtual class. The free executive summary is at learningspaces.cfm and you can purchase the full report at our catalogue on the CoSN website %20Technologies%20Reports

Question from Jim Reece, Supt., Caldwell:
Our district is trying to organize a computer rotation schedule so that we do stay heavy with outdated computers that require a lot of maintenance. Is there a certain number of years that is commonly used?

Keith R. Krueger:
I would strongly encourage you to explore CoSN’s Taking TCO to the Classroom project. While there is no magic answer, you clearly will find that the longer you keep equipment, your technical support costs will rise dramatically. It is a false economy to keep or accept old equipment because it is “cheap”. In fact, keeping a newer, more standardized computer network will lower your TCO, according to experts like Garnter, as well as the experience CoSN has found with leading school districts.

Question from Becky White, Children’s Librarian, Allen County Public Library:
Since technology is now such an important part of education (and life, actually), do you feel that our children who enjoy video games have an advantage over those who never play, when their lives are balanced with physical activity, of course? Is there research being done to show the effects, good and bad, of playing video games at different ages of development?

Keith R. Krueger:
I think this is a great question. There is no question that our kids enjoy gaming/simultions and spend countless hours working to master those skills. I think many educators are very interested in how we might apply those lessons in the classroom.

CoSN is hosting an International Symposium next spring on this topic as a preconference event to our annual conference. If you are interested in details, go to

As the Symposium information says:

Gaming and other interactive software primarily exists in the commercial/consumer markets, yet many educators believe they hold the potential to powerfully engage learners, particularly at the primary and secondary education level.

Our children increasingly spend hundreds or thousands of hours engaged in virtual reality gaming environments, and undertake complex and multifaceted decision-making to succeed in these “games”. Some believe schools need to find innovative ways to engage students and believe that games, simulations and other interactive technologies might make mainstream school instruction more engaging.

There are salient differences between the design environment for those who design games and those who develop products for the K-12 market. One difference is that game developers are largely unconstrained by national or state mandated curriculum and can design their products for integrity and validity as a stand alone experience. Also, game designers must count on the nature of the experience to engage the student rather than relying on an adult authority to require kids to use it.

To date, there has been limited cross-over between the worlds of education and gaming/interactive software. This Symposium will explore if there are effective strategies for stimulating greater synergy between these sectors with the goal of providing more compelling and engaging learning environments for our children.

To provide for a productive conversation, we will define educational gaming and/or interactive software as meeting three criteria. Educational gaming is:

Explicitly designed to accomplish credible educational objectives.

Engaging for the children/young adults who are the target audience. That is, kids will use the programs even if they are not told by an adult that they have to do so.

Highly interactive, meaning that a user must engage repeatedly and at more than one level with the software for it to work.

The Symposium is designed for senior-level policymakers and educators with primary responsibility for ICT/education technology, as well as interested corporate leaders, to explore:

Are there exemplary models for encouraging involvement of the gaming/interactive industries in education, and if so, what lessons have been learned?

What policies, either public or by private markets, encourage or discourage the development of educational gaming/interactive software?

What standards should be used to assess the quality of education gaming software?

What can we expect to see in “next generation” educational game software?

Question from Liz Woolard, AP/IB Physics Teacher, Enloe Magnet High School, Raleigh, NC:
I fight an uphile battle to fund my use of technology in the physics clasroom. I received a set in laptops( 5 years ago) to use in my classroom by promising to give information to new schools on innovative uses (which I designed) for the science classroom. I did offer this feedback (very positive) for five years quite frequently on my own time--after school. Now the laptops are aging out and my administration will not support repair or replacement. I would like to know how to handle this rejection of my time, expertise, and experience.

Keith R. Krueger:
It is hard to know the specifics of your individual situation, and your experience is unfortunately not all that unique. One of the greatest factors in successful use of technology is building level leadership. It is essential that principals and instructional leaders at the building, as well as the district level, understand and support use of technology.

I think one of the problems is that in many cases technology champions have been willing to ignore the total cost of ownership, and simply use any one-time funding to get equipment.

CoSN believes educational technology leaders need to provide accurate budgeting infromation so that their school boards and superintendents understand the on-going and long-term costs (such as replacement).

I would recomment that you visit CoSN’s long-standing TCO resource called “Taking Total Cost of Ownership to the Classroom”. We have taken business tools developed by Gartner and converted them to an appropriate tool for education. This is a FREE web-based fact U.S. K-12 educators are the ONLY industry sector with this Gartner-based tool. Over 1,700 school districts are using it today to project the full cost of technology -- of course, there are over 16,000 districts so we need to get the word out.


I should also say that CoSN recently launched a new site to help educators calcuate the Value of Investment that technology provides. VOI is an important emerging trend, and educators should think about what is the VALUE that technology provides. We need to move beyond glossy vision statements and get more rigorous about what constitutes success.

Visit for more details.

Hope this helpful, Ms. Woolard, and best of luck!

Question from Peter Hess, Dean of Studies, Brewster Academy:
What are the technological innovations on the horizon that schools should be looking at because of their potential to impact teaching and learning?

Keith R. Krueger:
As I mentioned in another answer, I think you need to start with the educational need you are trying to address. I like the way that CoSN’s Hot Technologies for K-12 Schools approached this question. It starts by looking at 5 key educational issues. Here is what the Executive Summary says:

What’s Next? Technologies for Five Key Educational Issues

To determine the hot prospects for educational technology, the ETC first identified five key educational issues that matter in schools today. We divided the committee into five research teams to examine new technologies that address these five issues:

Technologies that galvanize the instructional process and promote authentic learning activities: active highly portable large storage devices and datacasting.

Technologies that improve assessment and evaluation at all levels of the organization: electronic response systems, intelligent essay graders, intelligent pattern analysis and performance projections, and data warehouses.

Technologies that address diverse learning styles and student needs. This section includes a review of the principles of Universal Design as well as sound-field amplification, and multisensory, customized learning tools.

Technologies that build community in the school environment: programmable phone systems, student information systems, learning management systems, and blogs.

Technologies that improve the efficiency of school administration: Radio Frequency Identification Data (RFID).

To narrow the possibilities for inclusion in this guide, the ETC imposed three criteria for selection. Every technology must have the potential to:

Address major challenges for one of the five key educational issues.

Transform or fundamentally change schools, rather than make small or incremental improvements.

Meet feasibility requirements, including cost effectiveness and school readiness in terms of technology infrastructures and professional capacity.

We also considered whether a technology is “emerging” or “emerged.” Our answer: A technology is still emerging if it is not yet a “must-have.” For example, a few years ago e-mail was an optional technology. In fact, it was limited in its effectiveness as a communication tool when only some people in an organization had regular access to it. Today, it is a must-have, must-use technology for most people in most organizations.

This guide covers some of the technologies that are likely to be tomorrow’s “must-have” tools - in the context of the unique opportunities, challenges and constraints of schools.

As technology companies introduce innovative products and services for the education market, school districts have the opportunity to invest in technologies designed to improve instruction and operations-from teaching, learning and assessments to organizational efficiency.

Perhaps the greatest promise of anticipated technologies is their potential to transform schools through innovation. Without innovation, schools risk stagnating in an increasingly sophisticated world. Lack of public support and funding in this country could jeopardize innovation, which would be a profound setback to American schooling and competitiveness.

In this guide, the Emerging Technologies Committee (ETC) of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) will look at the most promising technologies in store for schools.

Chief technology officers and other technology decision makers in schools will find this guide especially useful for sorting through possibilities for their schools. Policy makers and business leaders who provide technology to the education market should find it informative as well.

Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):

Thank you for joining us for this very informative chat. And a special thanks to our guests for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer your questions.

This chat is now over. A transcript of the discussion will be posted shortly on

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