NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Computers In The Classroom? First Train The Teachers

July 5, 2000

In the rush to equip every classroom with computers, someone forgot the fundamental fact that teachers must be trained to use them before they can teach their charges.

  • Teachers say that the smattering of official training they receive will not ensure that information technology will be used effectively.
  • Vicki Rafel, a vice president of the national PTA, says many schools have the equipment, but very frequently "it's either underused or not used at all."
  • A study last year by Market Data Retrieval found that 61 percent of elementary and secondary teachers surveyed felt either "not at all prepared" or only "somewhat prepared" to integrate technology into classroom instruction.
  • According to the report, teachers with 11 or more hours of technology training in the previous year were far more likely to use technology in the classroom than teachers who got less -- but on average, they received only five hours of instruction and roughly 25 percent received no training during the previous year.

While some educators report that computers just sit in a classroom corner, the Clinton administration is requesting $933 million for technology investment in schools in the 2001 budget. Some 95 percent of schools are now connected to the Internet.

Source: Amy Harmon, "As Computers Idle in Classrooms, Training for Teachers Is the Next Challenge," New York Times, July 3, 2000.


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