So, what is the appropriate role for IT in education, in the broadest sense? As always, ITs role is to augment (not to replace) the teacher, to provide human-centered tools that encourage and support adaptability and flexibility, and to enable appropriate modes of learning (e.g., small team interaction and not just individual task performance). Principles such as situated, active learning (i.e., learning by doing rather than just by listening)principles that foster interactive involvement of the learner with the educational materialsare well supported by current technology trends. However, one size does not fit all in educational software. Unless new tools allow exploration at multiple levels of detail and accommodate diverse learning styles, they will be just as limited as ordinary textbooks. But this is easier to say than to do: there is no collective experience in authoring at multiple levels of detail and multiple points of view. Such authoring requires the development of skills and tools of far greater power than we have experience with to date.
The most important task in the application of IT to education is to author stimulating content that is as compelling as twitch games or even as strategy games appear to be. New content dropped into existing curricula typically shows no improvement in outcomes; we must also redefine curricula to support learner-centered, on-demand exploration and problem-solving, and we must break down traditional disciplinary boundaries. We must also train educators to take advantage of these new capabilities. This will require massive investment, on a scale we have not encountered heretofore. This content creation, curricula adaptation, and educator training will also require a long period of experimentation, as well as tolerance for the false starts that are an inevitable part of all innovation processes.
Content and curriculum alone are not sufficient. We must provide support for all aspects of learning, in both formal and informal education, not just in schools but in all venues, ranging from the home to the office and the factory flooranyplace where learners gather, singly or in groups.