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Schools get technology boost at MIT

Teachers and parents from 60 of Boston's public schools gathered at MIT late last month to expand their schools' links to technology.

The Summer Technology Institute (STI), hosted by the School of Architecture and Planning, gives teachers and parents the tools and support to become advocates for technology within their schools and helps them develop curriculum units that incorporate technology. The program, in its second year, brought together more than 180 people in teams of two teachers and one parent from elementary, middle and secondary schools across the city.

"This is the Information Age, and the schools have to be there to help kids be knowledgeable about technology as information technology becomes a part of everyday life," said Anne Beamish, MIT's coordinator for STI.

This initiative to expand technology in the schools gives educators and parents hands-on experience using the kinds of technology that could bring globe-spanning information into Boston's classrooms. Participants use e-mail, navigate the World Wide Web and learn about newsgroups and practice using Web software with the coaching assistance of graduate students from the urban planning and architecture departments. Teams participate in joint projects and hear representatives from companies such as Apple and IBM speak on technology topics. The groups will also learn how to put together a site technology plan.

"During the summer, when we don't have the responsibility of school; we're more able to concentrate on a topic like this," said Diane Davis, a ninth-grade teacher in Madison Park High School's Commerce Academy. "We're able to do it for several days and really able to absorb the information."

For one project, a group had to use search engines on the Web to find the temperature in Rome. The exercises showed the need for teachers to do some Web sleuthing as part of their lesson preparation to make sure the tasks could be accomplished with reasonable effort, Davis explained.

Teams will come together three times this school year to share experiences, brainstorm on solutions and participate in additional training to extend the impact of this summer's sessions.

STI was spearheaded by the Boston Public Schools' Office of Instructional Technology in collaboration with MIT's School of Architecture and Planning and the Center for Leadership Development. The program is funded by the State Street Foundation.

For more information, see the STI Web site at .

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 1996.

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