Quarterly for Education and Technology: A recent news story

A recent news story – Brief Article

Michael F. Sullivan

A recent news story in my local paper described new Web sites designed to help students with college admission and financial aid. The article ended with a comment from a developer that such sites would not replace school counselors. Well, that may be true today in that there are too few counselors and there are still many students lacking Web access or Web skills. In the long run, however, technology will replace many counselors, and administrators, and teachers.

Let’s not kid young people who see the projections for jobs in education and envision lifetime security. Jobs have disappeared in nearly every sector of the economy, and education, as usual, has been a generation behind. Of course, many of these industries have emerged and grown stronger and bigger as a result of the shift from people to technology. Manufacturing jobs may be moving to Mexico, but health care is booming just a few years after the consolidation movement cost thousands of jobs. Stockbrokers are quickly becoming obsolete, but brokerage houses are hiring technical staff as fast as they can find them.

Technology changes lives — some for the better and some for the worse. Education cannot be immune from this change. Not only will the economy demand it, but parents will demand it. This parent, for example, is not happy that his child and that child’s cohort are being told that they cannot receive a technology-based education because we must first train all the teachers to become technologically literate. I support professional development, but not a multi-year delay in improving instruction. I want my child to be a productive citizen — and that means he must be technologically literate. Like many middle-class parents, I’m spending money to make my child literate while wishing that schools would do it, and wishing even more that schools would do it for the kids whose parents can’t supplement public education.

Ten years ago we defined a literate person as one with basic language and math skills. Today a person must have technology skills to even begin to compete for virtually every job not focused on grease. Education is not a full-employment program for the technology-challenged; it is an opportunity for students to go tar beyond the capacity of lecturers and become creators and producers.

Too many education employees, including counselors, are lecturers and dispensers of information. They aren’t allowed to hug students, and they’re too scared to really challenge students. They aren’t comfortable with technology, so they have a limited tool kit. Computers dispense information more reliably and more efficiently than any person does. Computers will replace educators. Not all of them, of course; those that are technologically literate will remain.

Michael F. Sullivan

Executive Director

Agency for Instructional Technology

Publisher, TECHNOS Quarterly

COPYRIGHT 1999 Agency for Instructional Technology

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group