National Education Technology Plan 2004
Improvements Will Be Dramatic
This report was undertaken by the staff of the U.S. Department of Education in response to a request from Congress for an update on the status of educational technology. As the field work progressed, it became obvious that while the development of educational technology was thriving, its application in our schools often was not. Over the past 10 years, 99 percent of our schools have been connected to the Internet with a 5:1 student to computer ratio.5
Yet, we have not realized the promise of technology in education. Essentially, providing the hardware without adequate training in its use – and in its endless possibilities for enriching the learning experience – meant that the great promise of Internet technology was frequently unrealized. Computers, instead of transforming education, were often shunted to a "computer room," where they were little used and poorly maintained. Students mastered the wonders of the Internet at home, not in school.6
Today's students, of almost any age, are far ahead of their teachers in computer literacy. They prefer to access subject information on the Internet, where it is more abundant, more accessible and more up-to-date.7
Progressive teachers, principals and superintendents understand this. As examples cited in this report demonstrate, they have successfully adapted the endless opportunities presented by computer technology and married them in creative and challenging ways to the high-level technical capabilities and motivation of their students. Students and teachers become partners in the exploration of this new universe.
Thus students, teachers and technology are driving a return to educational excellence. But complementing these is what will surely be seen as the single most important driver of educational progress in the coming decade: the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in Congress in 2001 with strong bipartisan support. This seminal legislation with its 2014 deadlines is breathtaking in its scope and poses powerful goals to the education community. Within 10 years it aims to abolish illiteracy and bring millions of children currently "lost" to the educational system into the mainstream of learning and achievement. It is comparable in many ways to this country's 1960s quest to put a man on the moon. Combined with the increased use of new technologies and the motivated expertise of today's students, it means that 10 years from now we could be looking at the greatest leap forward in achievement in the history of education. By any measure, the improvements will be dramatic.