National Academies Press: OpenBook

Reinventing Schools: The Technology is Now! (1995)

Chapter: THE TECHNOLOGICAL JUGGERNAUT

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Suggested Citation:"THE TECHNOLOGICAL JUGGERNAUT." National Research Council. 1995. Reinventing Schools: The Technology is Now!. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9485.
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Suggested Citation:"THE TECHNOLOGICAL JUGGERNAUT." National Research Council. 1995. Reinventing Schools: The Technology is Now!. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9485.
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Page 4

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Themajority ingly. Telephones and home facsimile “In the future, computers will machines will screen calls, take messages, and send away for information. mutate beyond recognition. of households Furthermore, more and more of . . . They will tuck under your these technological devices are being with school-aged arm, into your valise, into interconnected, paving the way toward what many predict will be fully integrated your kid’s backpack. After children in America home information and communications that they will fit onto your centers. In such systems, digital signals contain a powerful com- face, plug into your ear. will flow into homes over copper wire, coaxial cable, fiber optic cable, or various puter. The computer has And after that they will sim- wireless links. Equally important, digital has extensive processing ply melt. They will become signals will flow back out, carrying elec- fabric. What does a comput- power, features sophisticat- tronic mail, conversations, or video clips. Households will have the capacity to be er need? Not glass boxes. ed graphics, and is controlled by connected to unlimited supplies of infor- It needs thread, power a lightning-fast input device. Its cost: mation, from college courses to the hold- wiring, glass fiber optics, about $100. ings of the Library of Congress to the lat- When most people hear the word est Hollywood films. cellular antennas, microcir- “computer,” they think of an IBM-compati- This communications revolution is hap- cuitry. These are woven ble or a Macintosh. But video game boxes pening at breakneck speed, and the pace things, fabric and air and are also computers, and the majority of of change will con- American students, spread across all racial, tinue to accelerate. electrons and light. . . . New satellite sys- “What do you think is the ethnic, and income groups, have a game Computers will be every- largest software company box at home. In fact, the rapid spread of tems, for example, where, throwaway, video games is one reason why outdated will soon enable in Redmond, Washington? business systems donated to schools often “anywhere, any- like denim, like paper.” The answer is not Microsoft. sit unused—they do not offer the capabili- time” communica- —BRUCE STERLING , AUTHOR It is Nintendo.” ties schoolchildren expect. tion, so that people w i l l b e a b l e t o —J OHN D OERR , K LEINER , Video games are only one part of a wave of computing power that is sweeping maintain continu- PERKINS , CAUFIELD & BYERS Home Video Game Systems Owned by Teenagers into American households. New videocas- ous links with the 48. sette recorders, televisions, compact disk rest of the world. 56.1 49.5 players, telephone answering machines, The speed of the information revolu- 49.6 48.5 47 stereos, and telephones tion can be daunting for educators who are gaining new want to take advantage of new technolo- capabilities every gies. But educators do not need to focus THE year. Soon new exclusively on leading-edge devices. Video televisions and TECHNOLOGICAL VCRs will be able to learn the viewing JUGGERNAUT TOTAL WHITE BLACK HISPANIC OTHER preferences of a household and program themselves accord- HOME GAME MACHINE VS. STANDARD EDUCATIONAL COMPUTER Elaborately hard-wired tures, the cartoon Mario Sega Genesis and Macintosh LC III to a computer, an actor does likewise. The SegaCD (Sega) (Apple Computers) using a system devel- result is animation that Type of Machine Home Game Machine School Computer oped by SimGraphics can be made for a frac- Engineering Corporation tion of the cost and in Price $99 (Genesis) $999 (Computer) can control the features much less time than tra- +$219 (CD Rom) +$399 (CD ROM) of an animated Mario in ditional animated films. CPU/Speed 68000 @ 7.5MHz 68030 @ 25MHz real time. When the virtu- This technology has 2 x 6800 (7.5Mhz (25Mhz) al actor—or vactor— been used at children’s +12.5Mhz) Sega Genesis moves his head or ges- hospitals to do therapy Memory 6MB RAM 4MB RAM Color Palette 64 256 Household Penetration of Consumer Electronics PERCENT OF HOUSEHOLDS Resolution 320 x 200 640 x 480 Audio 16-bit stereo 16-bit stereo 95 T ELEVISION CABLE TELEVISION Video Output Composite, RF RGB Color 60 91 VCR DECKS PhotoCD Support None Yes 57 TELEPHONE ANSWERING DEVICES Audio Compact Disk No Yes 43 HOME CD PLAYERS Hard Disk Storage None 80Mb Macintosh LC III 42 VIDEO GAME SOFTWARE 36 HOME COMPUTERS

H games, for example, offer many of the ele- pact disk systems containing text, graph- ome entertain- ments of successful learning: rich interac- ics, and video in addition to sound are ment and video tion, individual experience, and rewards offering interactive multimedia experi- game technology for the completion of a task. ences on a rapidly growing Though most video games do range of subjects. As interac- is ubiquitous, “We’ve designed video games not now serve an educational tive television in the home creating a cus- for a long time. We under- function, they could be mod- moves past the prototype tomer base that ified to do so. In one of stage, new educational stand what it takes to make Nintendo’s releases, for opportunities will emerge. dwarfs that of software that kids will will- example, the Mario Brothers Technological and man- the business ingly spend hours with. With ufacturing advances are also action figures teach drawing, market. The size of the con- and other video game manu- continually driving down collaboration with educa- facturers are similarly moving the cost of computers, soft- sumer market has allowed tors, we can integrate more to enter the “edutainment” ware, and network links, manufacturers to offer educational content into our bringing sophisticated tech- market. sophisticated hardware and Today, video game man- games. We could even dream nologies within reach of ufacturers are developing almost everyone. As hard- software at greatly reduced of reinforcing the entire cur- ware prices continue to game boxes that can be con- unit costs. The processors riculum with appropriate nected to the outside world drop, it may be possible to in even simple appliances through television cables. learning aids.” — D OUG G LEN , provide all students in a Such devices have the capa- classroom with inexpensive like televisions and audio SEGA OF AMERICA, INC. bility to connect children in notebook computers for use compact disk players have more than 60 million U.S. in class and at home. the capacity of business households. And because video game Students could use the computers to do ownership cuts across all social and eco- homework, acquire new lessons, or con- systems of just a few years nomic classes, networked video games sult with teachers and other experts out- ago. And in many ways— could provide a way to bring information side of schools. Parents could use the particularly with regard to and new experiences to virtually all same technology to check on a child’s school-aged children. progress or ask questions of a teacher. By the graphics and sound that While much work needs to be done for linking the activities of home and school, are so engaging to chil- video games to become a broad-based edu- technology could expand and transform dren—home video game sys- cational tool, a number of other, increas- the learning that occurs in both places. ingly common, technologies are finding tems outstrip even current educational applications. More and business systems. more homes contain personal com- The huge amounts of puters that can be used for edu- cation as well as business technology already in the applications. Com- hands of children offer the education community a low- cost way to bring technolo- gy into the classroom, in addition to the accepted approach of relying on more expensive systems from the business market. If accept- ed by educators, the conver- with emotionally dis- turbed and termi- gence of superior education- nally ill children, al software designed for many of whom business computers and the find it easier to talk with problem-solving approaches a cartoon of game systems could than with prove a powerful force in a real person. K-12 education. “I ‘m a hard worker; I’m a very busy boy. I never give up and tackle ever tougher obstacles to reach my goal. I think I’m a good role model. I just need the right curriculum content.” —MARIO

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Today's children have grown up immersed in a world of computers and other information technologies. They play video games; they listen to music on digital compact disks; they help their families program the computerized controls of videocassette players. With all of the exciting innovations in computer technology, children have the opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge without ever leaving home. Schools by comparison can seem dull.

Education reformers have been developing new approaches for improving the way in which children learn and interact in the classroom. They now must consider the "technology gap" that exists between the technologically rich experiences children have outside the classroom and the comparatively low-tech, in-school environment. The aim is not just to outfit more classrooms with computers. Schools should be changed so that they encompass and guide out-of-school activities that already embrace technology.

Not only is this vision possible, it also is feasible, according to Reinventing Schools. This document, available only as an on-line publication, is based on a meeting at which hundreds of leaders -from government, education, and the entertainment and information technology industries-developed strategies for reinvigorating the K-12 educational process by integrating the school experience with the information technology that has captured children's imaginations.

Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Academy Industry Program of the National Research Council, Coca-Cola Endowment Fund of the National Research Council, and Kellogg Endowment Fund of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine.

This is a web-only publication available at:

http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/techgap/welcome.html.

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