WE RECOMMEND that schools seize on the promise of new technologies to increase productivity, enhance student achievement, and expand learning time.Technology is a great unrealized hope in education reform. It can transform learning by improving both the effectiveness of existing time and making more time available through self-guided instruction, both in school and out. Technology has already changed much of the rest of American society- profit and non-profit, private sector and government alike-because it makes it possible to produce more with less. A similar revolution is possible in education.
At a minimum, computers and other technological aids promise to rid teachers and administrators of the mundane record keeping that is such a characteristic of school life today, permitting teachers to spend more time designing instructional programs for their students.
But the true promise of technology lies in the classroom. Technology makes it possible for today's schools to escape the assembly-line mentality of the "factory model" school. With emerging hardware and software, educators can personalize learning.
Instead of the lock-step of lecture and laboratory, computers and other new telecommunications technologies make it possible for students to move at their own pace. Effective learning technologies have already demonstrated their ability to pique student interest and increase motivation, encouraging students not only to spend more of their own time in learning but also to be more deeply involved in what they are doing.
Finally, it should be noted that the "information superhighway" can reshape education as it will other areas of American life. The school revolution, however, depends both on a concerted investment strategy to help educators obtain these technologies and on educators confronting their reluctance to supplement the techniques of the 19th century (textbooks, chalk and blackboards) with the technologies of the 21st (CD-ROMs, modems, and fiber optics). They must do so. In order to help them, states should establish special funds to provide low-interest loans and grants, and they should create large-scale purchasing agreements for new technologies and teacher training in their use.
Give Teachers the Time They Need Develop Local Action Plans to Transform Schools