Oct 31 2006

Integrating Technology Into the Curriculum

Technology proficiency is as fundamental to education as knowing how to read.

If you think adding technology into the curriculum is difficult in your school, try doing it behind bars. (See “Giving Youth a Second Chance ” on page 29.) Those who teach youth in correctional facilities see job training — specifically giving incarcerated youth portable technology skills — as critical to getting these kids on the right path. The facts show that gainful employment is a key deterrent to crime. Teaching job skills in correctional settings can help ensure that these at-risk youth don’t end up back behind bars.

For the record, most of you feel that technology is fundamentally, perhaps even constitutionally, important. Of readers polled, 83 percent of you believe that technology proficiency is as fundamental to education as knowing how to read — or it will be in the near future.

But why don’t more school administrators feel that way? According to too many educators, technology training isn’t part of the curriculum at many schools. That seems odd, particularly when technology is a critical ingredient to sustaining economic growth. It’s nearly impossible to find a job in which technology skills aren’t essential to getting hired, let alone achieving success, whether you enter the workforce after high school or after college.

Yet, in a poll of 63 readers, we discovered that 62 percent of their schools didn’t teach computer science, and 11 percent weren’t sure. Ten percent said they teach computer science, but only 6 percent offer it at the Advanced Placement (AP) level. Another 15 percent are lobbying to get computer science courses added to the curriculum.

Los Angeles Unified School District is in that six percent, offering AP computer science in some of its high schools. The district is expanding the program, and that’s why we gave them a Tinfoil Star . (See page 14.)

Funding is the biggest hurdle to equipping our students with course work that leverages tech tools, so say 49 percent of you. However, fear, lack of vision, and lack of metrics for assessing technology’s worth also ranked as concerns. Len Scrogan, director of instructional technology at Boulder Valley School District, addresses the metrics challenge on page 44, while Alan November discusses overcoming these hurdles on page 60.

Of course, we don’t have all the answers but we’ve sought out some of the best thinkers on these topics to shed light on what we might do better. It’s a small start, but improving the integration of technology into the curriculum is the focus of this issue of EdTech™. You’ll find numerous inspiring lesson plans and ideas. Although challenges remain, I’m an optimist, since it’s not much use being anything else. We think that you are too.

Lee Copeland
Editor in Chief