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Commentary: The training shortfall

Giving schools hardware and software to enhance teaching through technology is only part of the solution. The key is training teachers.

Giving schools hardware and software to enhance teaching through technology is only part of the solution. The key is training teachers so they can not only use the technology but also integrate it into their curriculum.

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Apple joins critics of Microsoft deal
Although Microsoft's settlement donation--which is to be disbursed over five years and targets 12,500 schools--includes $90 million for training, Gartner believes this amount will be spread too thin to address sufficiently the lack of teacher training. Assuming the terms of the settlement stand, Gartner recommends that Microsoft target at least 25 percent of the total grant toward staff development.

One example of this training deficiency exists in New York City, where an estimated 69 percent of schools are eligible for a part of the $1 billion Microsoft donation. While roughly 99 percent of New York City schools are wired and 63 percent have Internet access, the school district reports that many schools provide only minimal computer access to students.

Gartner believes that this is because the vast majority of teachers and administrators have not been provided with the training needed to integrate the technology into education. As a result, the equipment that's already there is often sitting unused. Programs--such as the one recently announced at the Bank Street College of Education--that use new technologies in teacher preparation courses are essential if teachers are to be adequately trained.

Gartner believes that technology vendors with significant penetration in the education market, such as Microsoft and Apple Computer, should partner with state and local education agencies--as well as with colleges and graduate schools in their teacher-training programs--to reinvigorate training on a regular basis.

For their part, states, local governments, and local and regional school districts should find clever ways to turn such donations into more programmatic efforts--as computer skills can become obsolete quickly. State education departments, and colleges and universities must put money and energy into enhancing training for teachers.

In addition, Gartner recommends that local school systems coordinate their efforts with those of neighboring schools to create regional training programs, so that school systems do not fight this uphill battle alone. School systems that cannot cover all aspects of teaching through technology (hardware, software, infrastructure, training and technical support) should share resources with other schools in their regions and focus on one critical area of improvement.

(For a related commentary on how Microsoft's proposed donation will affect its antitrust case, see

Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.