Reaping the benefits. Of course, teachers and school boards need to be convinced that the Internet can make their schools more effective. Look at West Virginia. In 1990, it launched a statewide effort to use technology to improve its struggling schools. Computers were gradually integrated into classes, beginning with the earliest grades, while the teachers received extensive training over seven years. The result? West Virginia jumped to 11th from 33rd on national achievement tests.
To extend state-of-the-art approaches to every school in our new technological universe we also must deal with cost. Even though laptop prices are plunging, schools are going to have to develop innovative budgeting at both state and local levels to acquire the funds for technology, training, and programming.
We are on the threshold of the most radical change in American education in over a century as schools leave the industrial age to join the information age. For most of the past century, our schools were designed to prepare children for jobs on factory lines. Kids lived by the bell, moved through schools as if on conveyor belts, and learned to follow instructions. But today many of these factories are overseas, leaving behind a factory-based school system for an information age.
Sputnik once woke up America's leaders to how far we had fallen behind the Soviet Union. This generation's Sputnik moment arrived with the economic competition of high skills and low wages from Asia and academic performances far surpassing our own.
Here with the Web is the way for America to use the marvels it created to end the regression in our competitive and academic performance. Let's get to it.