This free Information Age Education Newsletter is written by Dave
Moursund and Bob Sylwester, and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is
one component of the Information Age Education project. See http://iae-pedia.org/
and the end of this newsletter. All back issues of this newsletter are
available free online at http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html
This is the third of a sequence of IAE Newsletters focusing on the
Common core State Standards (CCSS) being developed by the CCSS
Initiative in the United States (CCSS, 2012).
Common Core State Standards:
4 The Educational Challenge of Information
and Communication Technology (ICT)
University of Oregon
In this IAE Newsletter I use the term Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) to cover the full scope of the discipline of Computer and
Information Science, computer applications, computerized tools,
calculators, and electronic games.
Reading, writing, math,
and science are the four core disciplines included in the Common Core
State Standards (CCSS) Initiative. See http://www.corestandards.org/
writing, and math aid the human brain in addressing a very wide range
of problems that people routinely encounter in their everyday lives. In
the PK-12 curriculum, the reading, writing, and math content tends to
be relatively stable over the years. For example, research in
mathematics over the past century has had little impact on the PK-12
Contrast this with our rapidly growing
knowledge of science and the continuing challenge of bringing new
scientific knowledge into the curriculum. Science
is a catchall term, as there are a great many different science
disciplines. In the United States, a high school graduate may have
taken courses in earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics. All of
these disciplines have seen major content growth in the past century,
and some of this content is quite suitable for inclusion in the PK-12
Quite a bit of this research progress in the sciences in recent years has been helped—
indeed, made possible—
computers, a discipline now usually referred to as Computer Science or
Computer and Information Science. Thus, our precollege and higher
educational systems face the challenge both of this new discipline of
Computer Science and the steadily growing usefulness of computer-based
tools in all of the sciences, as well as in all other academic
disciplines across the curriculum.
Electronic digital computers started to become commercially available
in the U.S. in the early 1950s. We have now had more than 60 years of
rapid and continuing growth in the capabilities and availability of
computers. Greater computing power has been coupled with a continuing
decrease in the cost of this power. Nowadays, many computer games and
"smart phones" have roughly as much computing power as did the
multimillion-dollar super computers of about 25 years ago. The price to
performance ratio of electronic digital computers has improved by a
factor of well over a billion during the past 60 years. My desktop
computer is more than a thousand times as powerful and only a
thousandth of the cost of the one computer that served the entire
University of Oregon when I joined its faculty in 1967.
this progress is compared with progress in other areas. For example,
can you imagine improving the gas mileage of a car from 25 miles per
gallon to 25 billion miles per gallon?
Can you imagine
improving the speed of an airplane from 250 miles per hour to 250
billion miles per hour? This far exceeds the speed of light. At that
speed, a flight around the Earth would take well under a thousandth of
The Early Days of Computer Science
The roots of Computer Science were developed well before the
first electronic digital computer. The mathematical research work of
(in 1931), Alan Turing (in 1936), and Alonzo Church (in 1936) provided
a theoretical foundation for developing the discipline that eventually
was named Computer Science or Computer and Information Science. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_computer_science
computers became increasingly available in colleges and universities
throughout the U.S., there soon became concentrations of computer
courses and activity in Business Schools, Engineering Schools, and
Departments of Mathematics. Business Schools were primarily interested
in developing the use of computers to help solve business problems.
Engineering schools were primarily interested in developing computer
hardware. Mathematics departments were interested in using computers to
help solve a wide range of applied math and statistics problems. And,
of course, the military found a number of uses for computers—
such as in the radar-equipped distant early warning systems.
Computer Science Departments were formed at many colleges and
universities. Many were in the College of Arts and Sciences, but some
were in the Engineering Schools. In the U.S., the first such department
was formed at Purdue University in 1962 in the Division of Mathematical
Sciences. It was a graduate program, offering the masters and doctorate
degrees. See https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit/Courses/134/history.html
early on, it became clear that one did not need to be a genius to learn
to write computer programs. The programming language BASIC became
available in 1964. Although specifically designed for use in college
and higher levels of education, it soon became evident that even grade
school students could learn to use it to write simple computer
programs. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BASIC
. The programming language Logo became available in 1967; it was specifically designed for use in precollege education. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logo_%28programming_
of course, computer games were developed and "children of all ages"
including adults enjoy playing them. Nowadays young children play many
of these computer games even before they learn to read.
1972, the idea of Computer Literacy for all began to emerge based on
the publications of Arthur Luehrmann (1972) and others as
microcomputers came on the scene and spread rapidly into businesses,
homes, and schools. See http://www.lcfarticles.com/articles/36/1/The-History-of-Microcomputers----
. Some historical notes about computer literacy are available in Moursund (2012).
microcomputers were equipped with word processing, database,
spreadsheet, graphics, and other productivity tools that fit the needs
of a very wide range of people. Students learned to make effective use
of these computer tools with only relatively little knowledge of the
underlying computer science, hardware, and software. The focus on
teaching computer programming in schools was gradually replaced by
teaching students to use computer applications in various curriculum
In the United States, the National Council of
Supervisors of Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics first recommended the use of calculators and computers in
school mathematics in 1979 and 1980. See http://darkwing.uoregon.
Although use of calculators is now permitted on many state and national
exams, their routine use as accepted tools in many school classrooms
The steady improvement in the price
to performance ratio of computers and calculators, their increasing
availability, and their relative ease of use eventually led educators
to consider a series of important questions:
Reading, Writing, Mathing, and ICTing Across the Curriculum
- In what ways should computers be routinely used by teachers for lesson preparation, student instruction, and record keeping?
- In what ways should computers be used by students as an aid to learning?
should calculators and computers be used by students to replace rote
memorization and to help solve complex, challenging problems?
should students be learning about computers as an aid to the human
brain, and should they be learning to write their own computer programs?
initial development of written language and the teaching of reading,
writing, and math based on written language occurred more than 5,000
years ago. Reading, writing, and math help with problem solving,
accumulation of knowledge, and communication over time and distance.
took many thousands of years before widespread elementary school
education that included a strong focus on reading, writing, and math
became common. It is only in the last century or so that it has become
generally accepted that all children should gain basic knowledge and
skills in these three areas. Even today, there are hundreds of millions
of school-age children in our world who have little or no access to
schools teaching these basic topics.
Each of these three
areas of study has both breadth and depth. This is perhaps most obvious
in math, where we now require students to take math year after year,
with the content each year building upon the content of previous years.
In the U.S., a major goal in reading and writing is for students to
gain sufficient skill in these areas by the end of the third grade so
much of their future learning can be based on this literacy. Reading as
an aid to learning is a well-established part of each academic
Now, we have the rapidly evolving
discipline of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The
technology is an important discipline in its own right and also a
powerful aid to representing and solving problems, storing and
retrieving information, and automating many mental and physical tasks
in all areas of the curriculum. The Common Core State Standards
Initiative and other projects that seek to define the content,
instructional processes, and assessment that make up the PK-12 school
curriculum all face the problem of how best to integrate the power of
ICT as an integral component of the content of each academic discipline.
Questions that need to be addressed include:
- What ICT facilities should be made available to students for use in and outside of school?
- What general ICT knowledge and skills should be specifically taught to all students?
- What discipline-specific ICT-related content should be integrated into each school curriculum area?
- What uses should be made of ICT by teachers for lesson development, instruction, and assessment?
belief is that ICTing now ranks with reading, writing, and mathing as
the four indispensible basics of a modern education. The goal should be
for students to achieve a level of fluency, knowledge, and skills in
each of these four areas that will appropriately serve them as they
move on in their education and into productive and responsible
adulthood in a world that will require lifelong education and
adjustment to change.
Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean by ICTing across the curriculum:
a number of years, each of the sciences has used theoretical, applied,
and computational approaches to representing and solving problems
(Moursund, n.d.). Computer modeling, simulation, and problem solving
are now important in every area of science.
- Reading and
writing now take place in an ICT environment that includes video,
audio, animation, graphics, social networking, the Internet, and the
Web. Our traditional definition of reading/writing literacy now needs
to be modified to include communication in this new ICT environment.
storage, communication, and retrieval of information is fundamental to
every discipline. Thus, all students need basic knowledge and skills in
information storage, processing, retrieval, evaluation, and use in our
current and future Internet/Web world.
higher-order thinking, posing and solving problems, and accomplishing
tasks are part of each academic discipline. Of course, the usefulness
of computer tools varies considerably from discipline to discipline.
For example, the computer tools used in composing, editing, and
performing music are quite different from those needed in math and the
- Brain scientists, educational researchers, and
curriculum developers are making good progress in the development of
research-based Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-Assisted
Learning (HIICAL) and distance learning materials. It is important that
all students learn to learn in these new ICT environments.
like to look at such examples in terms of what a student might readily
learn on his/her own, what all students should learn in their first few
years of schooling, and the specific ICT-related knowledge and skills
that should be integrated into the content of each discipline that
students study as they progress through the grades.
What is important is that we avoid having each teacher in each
subject area forced to start from scratch in teaching ICT knowledge and
skills to each new set of students they face. A third grade teacher
needs to be able to assume that students already have an appropriate
level of ICT knowledge and skills, in the same way that a third grade
teacher can assume students have mastered appropriate levels of
reading, writing, and math during their earlier years of schooling.
need for and value of this vertically structured ICT curriculum as part
of every PK-12 discipline area is a challenge to students, curriculum
developers, teachers, and our assessment system. My next IAE Newsletter
in this series will discuss the approaches taken by the International
Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to address these challenges.
Luehrmann, A. (1972). Should the computer teach the student, or vice-versa? Retrieved 11/20/2012 from http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss3/seminal/article2.cfm.
Moursund, D. (n.d.). Computational thinking. Retrieved 11/25/2012 from http://iae-pedia.org/Computational_Thinking.
Moursund, D. (2012). Some history about computer literacy. Retrieved 12/10/2012 from http://iae-pedia.org/Some_History_About_Computer_Literacy.
David Moursund earned his doctorate in mathematics from the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught in the Mathematics Department and
Computing Center at Michigan State University for four years before
joining the faculty at the University of Oregon. See his vita at see http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund
few highlights of his professional career include founding the
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), serving as
ISTE's executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE's flagship
publication, Learning and Leading with Technology
He was a major professor or co-major professor of 82 doctoral students.
He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds
of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund_Books
. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops.
2007, he founded Information Age Education (IAE), a non-profit company
dedicated to improving teaching and learning by people of all ages
throughout the world. See http://iae-pedia.org/Main_Page#IAE_in_a_Nutshell
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