Ed-Tech Policy

Business Group Calls for More Technology Training

By Mary Ann Zehr — March 03, 1999 3 min read

School districts and colleges of education have their work cut out for them in training teachers to use technology effectively, a report released last week by a group of business and education leaders says.

“Businesses are demanding from public schools what they call a 20th-century technology-literate student,” said Terry Crane, the president of Jostens Learning Corp. and a co-chairwoman of the CEO Forum on Education and Technology, the Washington-based group of 20 executives that published the report. “You’re not going to get a technology-literate student if you don’t have a technology-literate teacher.”

More than half the nation’s schools consider professional development in technology to be “optional,” and at least one-third of education schools don’t have the facilities to train teachers to use technology well in the classroom, according to studies cited in the report.

Titled “The 1999 School Technology and Readiness Report--Professional Development: A Link to Better Understanding,” it offers an overall status report on school technology but focuses on teacher training--one of four “pillars” for the successful use of education technology identified by the Clinton administration. The CEO Forum’s first report, released in October 1997, was about Internet connectivity, another of the pillars.

This year’s report offers recommendations for how colleges of education, school districts, education policymakers, and businesses can work together in training teachers to use technology.

Not enough resources or systems are yet in place to adequately support teacher training, the report concludes.

It says, for example, that hiring standards for teachers and administrators should include technology-integration proficiency by the fall of 2000 and that the standards should be mandatory by 2002. It also says that education schools should give their faculty members the tools, incentives, and ongoing professional development they need to integrate technology into teacher-preparation curricula by 2001.

In-Service Training

The report concentrates more on how districts should train teachers once they’re in the classroom than on how colleges should prepare teachers to use technology.

For More Information:

For a free copy of “The 1999 School Technology and Readiness Report–Professional Development: A Link to Better Understanding,” call (202) 393-1010 or download the report at http://www.ceoforum.org/report99/99report.pdf. (In portable document format (PDF); requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The report provides, for example, a chart that districts can use to measure their progress on professional development in technology. It offers no comparable chart for colleges of education, though Ms. Crane said the CEO Forum plans eventually to produce one.

One observer said that imbalance in the report reflects the difference in public and private resources that have been spent on in-service rather than preservice training.

“Technology companies have displayed much more interest in K-12 directly and much less interest in teacher-preparation institutions, which is certainly shortsighted in my view because through the portals of schools of education march the vast majority of new teachers,” said Arthur E. Wise, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. As of next year, NCATE is making accreditation of education schools contingent on their meeting certain technology standards.

A new, $75 million federal program for technology training, called “Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology,” will offer grants under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to consortia that include institutions of higher education for such activities as redesigning courses to include technology.

In other findings, the CEO Forum report says that 24 percent of the nation’s schools are now “high tech,” meaning they have a local area network, Internet access, and at least one multimedia computer for every seven students. In October 1997, the figure was 15 percent.

But more than 50 percent of schools are still “low tech,” meaning they have as many as 25 students sharing a multimedia computer and may not have Internet access or networked computers.

A version of this article appeared in the March 03, 1999 edition of Education Week as Business Group Calls for More Technology Training

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