Technology isn't coming. It's here, and Utah should be taking advantage of it to enhance the operations of its education system and to prepare its students for a technology-driven future, a legislative subcommittee was told Wednesday.
"We must have a vision of what is needed," Colleen Colton told members of the Administration and Management Subcommittee. "We have to know where we are going if we want to get there."Efforts are being made to assess where education stands in relation to technology, said Colton, Gov. Norm Bangerter's administrative assistant for education.
The State Office of Education has done a study on the matter and is beginning to act on the findings of that study. Also working on the problem is the Governor's Educational Technology Commission.
Colton presented a report on the commission's efforts. Among its recommendations is establishment of a fund raised from private companies. The money would be made available to school districts to experiment with technology. Those that developed the most impressive programs would be rewarded with additional money.
In return, Colton suggested, the Legislature should consider a tax break for potential donors, who would be asked to contribute 2 percent of their research and development funds for the project.
Surveys of technology use in the various school districts shows a patchwork diversity of equipment, training and application, she said.
"The problem is how to adopt one program" that would increase efficiency and allow effective interaction, she said.
Kolene Granger, assistant superintendent in the State Office of Education, said technology should be seen as the means to an end, not the end itself. "When you buy a drill, what you really want is a hole," she said.
The state office is working toward better planning for integrated technology statewide, better in-service training for teachers who are expected to use the technology and pass it along to students, and more coordination of resources.