Your mention of McLuan sparks an interest. I hope that McLuan's global village becomes more of a reality. I wonder if one of the greatest impediments to its realisation concerns issues of access to technology, whether along boundaries of race, class and gender internally in the U.S., and also then along national and international boundaries. I would like to hear your views on access issues with regard to instructional technology and how we as teacher educators might address them as we prepare to ourselves and others to participate in the global village. -C.G.
Access to Instructional technologies is an issue that seems to be on its way to at least some resolution in the United States. While there is still a large gap between the technological " haves" and " have nots ", I believe that this gap is declining. The cost of computer based technologies has steadily and continuously dropped since their inception. If automobiles had developed the same way as the computer, today's cars would be able to go five hundred miles an hour on one gallon of gasoline and they would cost about five hundred dollars. One problem in access is simply a matter of priority. It the United States spent as much money on implementing technology in the schools as it did on the Savings and Loan bailout a few years ago, then we would have a computer for every child in the country with money left over. Yet the promise of the computer in the classroom has yet to be realized enough to make this happen. There still doesn't exist a " killer application " for schools. When computers first came out, they were mainly used by hobbyists. It was not until the development of the spreadsheet program that businesses began buying large numbers of computers. The spreadsheet program was something that businesses decided that they could not live without. It was the first " killer application." If there were a similar application for education, then we would see priorities shift and the problems of access would be eliminated.
As yet, we do not know how to use the new technologies to realize their full potential. One place to start though, is in training new teachers. If we begin to show that technology can have real value to the educational process, then we can justify the expenditures necessary to fully implement technology in the schools. We "know" that technology can make a valuable contribution to education. We even "know" some of the ways to make it do this. We have yet to begin to take full advantage of this knowledge. Insuring the technological competence of new teachers is one place to start.