THE INTERNET IN SCHOOL: Promise and Problems

Janet Ward Schofield, Author, Ann Locke Davidson, Joint Author . Jossey-Bass $27 (380p) ISBN 0-7879-5686-4

For the last decade, school reform has become almost synonymous with initiatives to provide schools with computers and access to the World Wide Web. If students and teachers could just get hooked up to all that electronic information, the argument goes, schools would be radically transformed, student achievement would soar and educational inequities would disappear. Not quite, say Schofield and Davidson, authors of this provoking, thoroughly researched and clearly written report. After a five-year study into the implementation of computer technology in one school district, the authors argue that the extravagant claims of Internet-for-education proponents must be tempered by an actual understanding of how school cultures both shape—and are shaped by—technological innovation. Not surprisingly, the positive and negative consequences of Internet use in schools practically mirror each other. While the Internet supports virtually unlimited exploration, this can distract students and take them "off-task." It can expose students to a variety of viewpoints, but many of these are highly controversial or lack credibility. The use of computers can support increased students' autonomy regarding their learning, but teachers may feel that they are losing control of the curriculum. Other barriers, such as lack of time for teachers to prepare lessons and inadequately functioning machines are perhaps more easily addressed, given sufficient resources. For educators, administrators and policy makers who want to make the most of the Internet, this guide provides meager practical solutions but much food for thought. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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