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Wired schools – Out of the past

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Computers, the Web and email promise to bring America’s classrooms into the new economy, improve education and extend its benefits to poor children, BusinessWeek magazine reported in its Sept. 25 issue.

While most of the 53 million children in the U.S. in kindergarten through 12th grade “attend schools designed for the industrial, if not the agrarian, era,” the magazine said, dozens of schools are using technology to remake themselves, creating models for a new type of American school.

“Over the next 5 to 10 years, the same technologies that have forced corporations to remake themselves for e-commerce hold the potential to similarly transform U.S. education,” the magazine said.

Technology alone won’t reinvent America’s schools, BusinessWeek said. That will require hiring and training 2.5 million new teachers over the next decade, offering better pay and training, boosting standards for graduates and repairing or replacing thousands of buildings.

But citing the corporate world’s harnessing of technology to transform the way it does business, BusinessWeek said schools can use the Web to tailor instruction for individuals, teachers can use email to pool their knowledge online, parents can plug into their children’s lives and administrators can use technology to slash operating costs.

Jonathan Carson, chief executive officer of the K-12 division of Learning Network, a unit of Pearson PLC, told BusinessWeek that “the Internet will democratize education,” giving students even in poor communities access to top libraries, to instructors worldwide and to more courses, many of which will be Web-based.

A big challenge, the magazine said, will be whether technology actually can help students learn more. The key will be whether educations use technology to change the way they teach. Where they do, the magazine said, teachers are finding they can engage even the poorest youngsters.

For full story, go to BusinessWeek.

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