Technology In Education
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
When many people think of using computers in the classroom, they
imagine a computer at every student's desk. Except for computer
training courses, this doesn't really seem necessary.
My vision would be to have a single computer in
selected classrooms, equipped with a CD-ROM drive and a DVD
player. Additionally, there would be a digital video recorder
along with a projection monitor. I hasten to add that this
technology is optional, and secondary to our primary reform proposals.
A home computer is a different story. Over
the past decade, the price of computers has dropped
dramatically, to the point where every child should have the opportunity
to own one. It is rare for children not to show some interest in
computers, which can be fun and interesting, while at the same time
helping children learn to read, think, develop language skills, and
explore the internet. Children can even learn how to develop their
own businesses using websites, and can even gain a certain amount of
One of the most useful tools for classroom
teaching is the video projection
monitor. It is mounted on the ceiling of the room, and
projects an image on the wall that is approximately eight feet tall and
ten feet wide. It uses either a television receiver, VCR, or
computer as its source. The effect is dramatic. The large
image, combined with stereophonic sound is akin to being in a movie
One very effective model is the "Who wants to be a
millionaire?" format. I
know teachers who are already doing something similar to this, but
without the big screen the impact is much less dramatic. Still, to
play the more basic version of this game, you just need a huge array of
questions and four multiple choice answers. The teacher makes a
game out of it. It adds excitement to the classroom and keeps the
students focused. The questions can be about simple facts: the
comprehension of a written paragraph, a chart, graph, diagram, map,
painting, or photograph of some geographical location. Thousands of
these questions can easily be placed on a single CD-ROM. It is the
fastest and most enjoyable way for students to build a large fund of
researchers in both Europe and the U.S. have created computer simulations of these mini subs, and
some scientists believe that prototypes are less than a year away.
A team from Utah State University is examining the prospect of using
bacteria to propel small drug-delivering structures to various parts of
the body. These submarines could deliver drugs to treat tumors, or
clear blocked arteries.
|According to the magazine New
Scientist, commercial manufacturers
are also working on similar technology. Within the year, the U.S.
based company, Renaissance Technologies, plans to start making medical
robots smaller than a millimeter in diameter. The German firm,
MicroTEC, is exploring the use of external magnetic fields as power
sources for microscopic motors that can travel throughout the body.
In the UK, medical researchers are seeking to create systems that will
directly target tumors with powerful drugs, without causing harmful
The experience of discovery in cutting edge
research is a vital part of the
learning process. The computer can be used to connect individual
classrooms to a worldwide teleconferencing network, where students and
researchers from all corners of the globe can share their ideas.
The school would move from its present state of isolation into a
real-world interface. Imagine joining with a team of scientists
who will soon create the first microscopic submarines which can move
through the human bloodstream, attacking and eliminating disease.
I have worked with hundreds of scientists and
have found that they love to
teach. Imagine students learning about cutting edge technology,
and the most current research. This approach would integrate the
classroom with the real world. Soon the students would begin to
make genuine contributions to research. If schools emulated
real-world situations in the classroom, the transition following
graduation would be seamless.
Many more instructional or educational films should be produced on DVD.
This would give teachers breaks during the day, and reduce their stress
level. Their time would then be more productively used for leading
discussions. The devices described above could also be used in a
videoconferencing network. Many classrooms could join together in
a discussion. Better yet, multiple schools could simultaneously
video-conference with world leaders in industry and research.
We now have broadband internet service that is
rapidly being expanded to many
areas of the country. It could carry low-cost, high resolution
audiovisual programming to our classrooms, which would in turn choose
the programs that they wanted to view from a menu. The programs
could be accessed at any time, both at school and at home. They
would be available all over the world. Given the money that is
presently being spent (quite inefficiently) on education, I can't
imagine a more practical endeavor. Programming could cover such
topics as health, plumbing, electrical work, political science, math,
chemistry, physics, languages, computer science, physiology, law,
medicine, and a variety of other disciplines.
*Graphic courtesy of BBC news.
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