WITH THE TRENDS of recent reform efforts in mind, how does technology fit into the scheme of revolutionizing education? Simply put, computers provide ample assistance in accomplishing numerous reform goals. From a structural point of view, computer networking is creating a professional bond between teachers as well as administrators never seen before in the history to education. Traditionally, every classroom is an island unto itself, with the teacher instructing, assessing and remediating children with limited contact with other teachers, even within the same school. Networking allows teachers to exchange lesson plans and advice and debate instructional methodologies with peers around the globe at the touch of a keyboard. Instead of waiting for annual summer conferences on successful education reform, they can compare and contrast their work with relative ease and speed. In a sense, the Internet has created electronically a professional fraternity between educators.
In terms of actual instruction, computers are an invaluable tool for providing active collaborative learning and assessment. While basic wordprocessing programs allow students to become independent publishers of ideas and opinions, email provides opportunities for "peer review" and group editing. More sophisticated interactive multimedia packages offer true inquiry-based learning, where students must construct and demonstrate solutions to a variety of in-class projects. This is not to suggest that computers are used in reform to replace the role of the teacher; realistically that would be both undesirable and impractical. Instead, the computer must be recognized as an effective teaching tool which assists the educator. Software offer students individualized learning, so while some students progress on a subject at their own paces, those who begin to fall behind can receive proper interpersonal attention from the instructor. The computer lets the teacher concentrate on interaction and individualized assistance. In a sense, because computers have proven to be a successful tool of reform-minded schools and educators, they are now inextricably linked to the reform movement itself.
Show me some real examples of how computers are helping education reform.