A Step Towards the Creation of Educational Technology Standards


Software Use In Schools

It is pretty obvious that whatever piece of software students learn today will be totally obsolete in as little as two years. So why even teach using software at all? However, there are five applications that are currently the backbone of business today and they are sure to stick around. In order to better prepare students for the workplace, the following can be considered:

1) Operating Systems

Windows-based systems are the business industry standard. Who's to say what OS businesses will be running in the future. Students will need to learn the importance of an Operating System and how to manipulate it to their benefit.

2) Office Suites

Office suites are really a "group" of programs; in the past six years that definition of office has often changed. In the mid 90s, an 'office suite' was considered to be a group of programs that allowed for word processing, spread sheets, and sometimes, database entry. The term 'office suite' has grown to include web design software, presentation software, page layout design, and in some cases, graphic editors.

Office suites are key pieces of productivity software that every business oriented career is centered around. It is imperative that all students know the basic operation of these programs.

It seems that Microsoft Office seems to be the clear leader in the office suite category with Corel Word Perfect Office suite a distant second. When deciding what suite to go with, cost is usually the main issue. Schools will generally shy away from MS Office because of cost factors. However, whatever office suite used, we recommend using an older version. These versions are usually very cost effective and software manufactures only make minor changes between versions.

3) Page Layout Design Programs

This genre of software allows you to manipulate and create hard copy documents. Most educators are quick to jump at using professional quality Page Layout Programs, usually Adobe Page Maker or Quark. It some cases, this may be the correct choice if you are teaching students high end printing techniques.

In the working world, future employees will need to use these programs daily to communicate their message, but the software applications of the future will make this much easier. Broderbund, among many others, has a fantastic software package for page layout entitled "Print Shop." While this application is not the most powerful tool for this task, it is easy to use and learners pick it up quickly. Expect to see this level of software to show up in the workplace.

4) Web Editors

These are programs that make web pages without any programming knowledge. Currently, the standard language for the web is Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). The modern web editors allow you to design a web page as if you were making a document in a word processor and then it converts that document to HTML so that it can be viewed on the web.

There is a great deal of controversy as to which web editor is the industry standard. A great number of reviewers claim Microsoft's FrontPage heads above the rest. More and more, Macromedia's Dream Weaver series is gaining recognition because it is an application that is extremely powerful and supports most web browsers with ease. Adobe's GoLive is also an excellent application that works extremely well when designing graphic intensive web sites.

As time passes, a new standard web language will come of age and replace HTML. Web editors will readily adapt to this and will still work in a similar fashion that they do now, but just write it into a different language. In the future, employees at most Fortune 500 companies will be expected to communicate on and over the web. Using a web editor will be common place.

Internet use in schools

If you were to compare the current applications of the Internet to a Television, we are still using black and white sets and color is but a dream. Internet applications evolve daily. There are few ubiquitous applications that will stand the test of time.

Applications that we feel have become or will at one time be part of corporate culture include:

1) E-mail-

Currently, emails out number letters sent through the worldwide postal services by 10 to 1. Using electronic mail is as important as being able to use a telephone. It is imperative that every graduating High School Senior be proficient with web-based and Pop e-mail.

2) File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients-

FTP clients allow you to transfer files between computers. Using this simple program, you can send files such as web pages that you have directly to a server where your Internet or Intranet audience can then view the files.

FTP will become a necessity for future employees as a great deal of companies will expect to hold virtual meetings that may require employees to make web pages. FTP applications are also becoming much more user friendly. In fact, most of us use FTP daily and don't even know it.

3) Video Conferencing-

With the advent of voice recognition, we will see a day when human translators are no longer needed. The future of video conferencing is not only multilingual, but also 100% real-time with no delays.

Students do not have to be masters of the current technology involved in video conferencing, but it is important that they are comfortable with speaking in it. Imagine having your first job interview in London and all you need to do is turn on your computer. Imagine how nervous you would be if you were not prepared to communicate in this medium? We feel that this application of the Internet should be explored by students in a public speaking course.

4) On-line Disk Storage-

In the future, as Internet connection speeds pick up, most computers will not come with a hard drive. They will rely on the Internet. Most disk storage will take place on servers across the world.

We are seeing the first of this technology today. In fact TeAch-nology.com offers you a FREE on-line hard drive so that you do not have to fumble with disks between home and school. It's imperative that students understand this technology, as it will add an entire new dimension to the future of computing. Most corporations would be able to save millions of dollars if they could use this type of technology. It won't be long until they realize this.

5) Web Browsers-

You are looking at this sentence, right now, because you are using a web browser. There are four web browsers that deserve some mention. Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape's Navigator software are obviously the first thing on everyone's mind when you say "browser." Making some waves in the browser world is also a program entitled "Opera." There are two reasons people will use Opera. Either, they like the speed (it is slightly quicker than IE), or they just want to be rebel and use something different. Another very popular browser is America Online's (AOL) browser software. This is due to sheer number of people that use AOL's service.

Each browser basically interprets the HTML code that the author of a web page has made and displays what it thinks the author intended. Each browser reads and interprets slightly differently. Due to this, most web pages will look different depending on the browser that you are using.

Students will just need to learn to use at least one of these applications since there is a great deal of similarity between them. Students should learn the abilities of each major browser. In the mid-90s, most corporations used Netscape, but today it seems to be mostly dominated by IE. Who is to say what the future holds for browsers?

Networking in Schools

A network is a group of computers that share the same software and can intercommunicate with each other. Networking computers as opposed to using stand-alone computers saves large companies millions of dollars each year. Recently, The New York Times had 213 job openings posted for network administrators the same week this tutorial was written.

Not everybody will need to be able to network computers. However, we feel it is imperative for students to understand basic principles of networking. Having knowledge of a network would enable a worker to troubleshoot problems with the network and in the long-term save a great deal of time.

Entry-level knowledge of networks could include information like:

1. What computer hardware is involved?

2. What computer software and type of operating systems are involved?

3. How is a network installed?

4. What are the physical and financial benefits of a computer network?

5. What's an Intranet and how does it work?

6. What are some common network security issues?

The Bottom Line

The Net Generation of students ,who we refer to as Generation D, will need to be technologically literate in order to compete in a digital world that continues to change faster than we can even imagine! As educators, we are challenged to rise to the demands of digital learning and create learning that will teach our students to master the skills they will need to live productive lives.