Panel on Educational Technology. "Report to the President on the Use of Technology to Strengthen K-12 Education in the United States." President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, 1997.

"In an era of increasing international economic competition, the quality of America's elementary and secondary schools could determine whether our children hold highly compensated, high-skill jobs that add significant value within the integrated global economy of the twenty-first century or compete with workers in developing countries for the provision of commodity products and low-value-added services at wage rates comparable to those received by third world laborers. Moreover, it is widely believed that workers in the next century will require not just a larger set of facts or a larger repertoire of specific skills, but the capacity to readily acquire new knowledge, to solve new problems, and to employ creativity and critical thinking in the design of new approaches to existing problems."

The Panel on Educational Technology was organized in April 1995 under the auspices of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to provide independent advice to the President on issues related to the application of ICTs (particularly computers and networks) to U.S. K-12 education.

Its findings and recommendations are based on the following:

The following are their "high-level strategic recommendations":


While this report provides a number of important observations and recommendations, some of its assumptions about the demonstrated value of ICTs in education may be a bit overstated. The Panel states, for example, that the "Administration should continue to make the case for educational technology as an unusually high-return investment (in both economic and social terms) in America's future, while seeking to enhance the return on that investment by promoting federally sponsored research aimed at improving the cost-effectiveness."

Despite its detailed recommendations for research, the "Panel does not, however, recommend that the deployment of technology within America's schools be deferred pending the completion of such research." While we agree that investment in ICTs has its place, the other literature identified in our research would seem to call into question the degree of empirical support for claims of "unusually high-return investment." It would seem prudent to only invest in ICTs for education that have demonstrated some potential ability to meet identified educational goals.


A number of the Panel's recommendations could be relevant for future Kellogg Foundation investment in education-related projects. It is important to focus on curricula, professional development and long-term sustainability, rather than simply considering ICTs as one-time investments in hardware and software. ICTs will be most helpful when they are introduced as part of a higher-level pedagogical framework, and their value can only be evaluated if one has identified what goals they are intended to meet. As with many other areas covered by our project, it would seem that educational technology calls for iterative design, i.e. focused investment in specific tools that are then tried, evaluated and finally redesigned, expanded or abandoned (depending on the results of the evaluation. Large-scale research projects are important, but every situation is different and provides new opportunities for learning.

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