Cushman, K. (1994, January). Technology in the essential school: making change in the information age. Horace, pp. 151-158.
Computer literacy is not the only essential job-related skill that is enhanced by access to the information superhighway. Network computing encourages small-group interaction. At most schools, four or five students share computer or video hardware. Thus students must explore and develop team strategies to work out solutions.
Networking technology also facilitates the instruction of students at diverse proficiency levels. In one language classroom in New York City, a teacher is able to effectively instruct students at different levels of achievement using e-mail in which the students converse in a foreign language with their peers in a Vermont classroom. As the teacher puts it, "Technology has transformed our ability to work with heterogeneous groups" (Cushman, 1994, p. 152). Under the teacher's guidance, students critique and give feedback on the quality of other students's work. The students, who generally respect the opinions of their peers more than the opinions of teachers, are motivated to perform to their maximum potentials.
Although some educators insist that an emphasis on computer learning is detrimental to the acquisition of basic literacy skills (the 3 R's), teachers who have worked with networking resources tend to disagree. The glut of information available forces students to think critically. Networking requires the mastery of a wide range of skills, what one teacher describes as "'GUM skills'-- getting, understanding, manipulating, and synthesizing information" (Cushman, 1994, p. 152).
Information technology is giving students the computing skills that are becoming essential to success in the employment arena. Evans et al. (1996) project that by the year 2000,