College Holds Education Technology Summit
laureate Niels Bohr once said: “Prediction is very difficult,
especially if it's about the future.” In spite of that caveat,
scores of educators, policy makers, school administrators, and
representatives from the tech industry gathered at the recent
Education Technology Summit held at Columbia University,
to discuss technology and the future of education.
Their prediction was nearly unanimous: in the immediate future,
computers will become a permanent fixture in American schooling.
Soon, online and distance learning will be as common as face-to-face
going to experience a revolution in the next few years,” said
Teachers College President Arthur Levine, in a speech welcoming
delegates to the two-day event.
The Education Technology Summit offered a variety of different
seminars on such topics as: “Preparing Knowledge Workers for the
21st Century,” “Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse,” “Follow the
Money: Paying for Educational Technology,” and “Evaluating Online
Building on the success of last year's event, the summit informed
educators about the latest innovations available to schools and
educational technology survived through the dot-com bust. Corporate
sponsors such as Classroom Connect and National Semiconductor
played a central role during the conference by supplying product
demonstrations and speaking at seminars. Their increased presence
may be a signal of what can be expected from the ed-tech revolution.
“The private sector is a factor in a way it has never been in
the past,” said Levine.
Reasons for the impending educational technology boom include:
the rise of overcrowded schools, family/work restrictions of college
students, and the premium students now place on convenience and
access in education. By moving education online, technology promoters
asserted, computers can play a role in meeting these new demands.
can come to a child no matter where they are, at home, school
or at work,” said John Bailey, Director of the US Department of
Education's Office of Educational Technology. “There was a time
when you would go to school. There was a time when you would go
to work. Now those times are merging.”
Another force driving the technology revolution comes from the
need to develop a generation of Žknowledge workers'; a common
theme repeated over the course of the event. In order for the
nation to remain globally competitive in the 21st century, said
experts, US graduates must be technology savvy. In order to make
that happen, schools must change to meet the technology needs
of the future.
But introducing such radical changes present significant problems
for the educational technology community. Historically conservative
institutions, schools do not change easily.
still educate on an agricultural timetable in an industrial structure
and we tell kids they live in a digital age,” said Bailey referring
to the enduring tradition of summer vacations (once intended to
allow students to work on parents' farms) and classroom periods
(originally meant to duplicate industrial working schedules).
Even if the predictions come to pass, warned Robert McClintock,
co-director of the Institute for Learning Technologies
at Teachers College, work needs to be done on how to best integrate
technology into the curriculum: “Educational technology presents
us with some real, significant, and powerful empowerments that
we can use, but we can also fail to use them÷ the fact is that
we don't know what is to be done.”
One seminar told a cautionary tale of technology use in the classroom.
Thinking Systematically about Education Technologies: Portals,
Potentials and Pitfalls began 20 minutes late. The hold up?
A glitch with the digital video projector; echoing McClintock's
warning and proving that although the future of educational technology
may be upon us, there are still bugs left to work out in the present.#
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