US aims to boost Net work to full capacity

The US government has set up a commission to ensure students make the best use of the Internet and have full access to the Web and other digital technologies.

The 16-member Congressional Web-based Education Commission, set up this year, has called for a "national inventory" of access to technology. This would examine the progress made in wiring up schools in the four years since the cut-price telecomms and cabling "e-rate" was introduced. The commission said the information was needed to devise strategies to tackle the digital divide.

Kim Jones, Sun Microsystems' vice-president for global education and research, told members that the US must invest in the high-technology infrastructure to guarantee equal access to Web-based learning for all students.

Meanwhile, America's educational technology plan is being revised to take account of its rapid progress. A forum on the future use of technology in education came up with five priorities:

* all students and eachers will have access to state-of-the-art information technology in their schools, classrooms, communities and homes;

* all teachers will use technology;

* all students will be technologically literate and responsible cybercitizens;

* research, development and evaluation will shape the next generation of IT applications for teaching and learning;

* education will drive the e-learning economy.

Research from the National Center for Educational Statistics reveals only 10 per cent of American public school teachers feel "very well prepared" to use computers and the Internet in their teaching; 23 per cent felt "well prepared", while 53 per cent felt "somewhat prepared" and 13 per cent "not at all prepared".

However, 66 per cent of teachers with computer or Internet access at school use them for classroom instruction.


Revising 1996 National Educational Technology Plan: www.air.orgforum

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