Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine / Volume 2, Number 6 / June 1, 1995 / Page 2

Special Issue Editor's Page
The Electronic Schoolhouse: Thinking about Computer Technology in Education

Special Issue Editor: Kevin Hunt (
Production Editor: Lee Honeycutt (
Editorial Assistance: Kirsten Cooke , Amelia Deloach, Chris Lapham, Nick Weaver
Cover Design: Jason Teague

Editor's Note: The thinking behind this issue

If you've read any of the issues of CMC Magazine in the past year, you know that we've tended to focus primarily on CMC issues in the realms of higher education and business. This probably stems from the fact that most colleges and universities have long had access to the Internet, and businesses are finding new opportunities in cyberspace and have the resources to launch their efforts. But relatively recently, primary and secondary schools have been among the new sites setting up shop on the Web and taking advantage of new computer and communication technologies, and so a look at this area within the pages of CMC Magazine was well overdue.

To get a sense of what's going on in the realm of K-12 education, in January I subscribed to the WWWEdu listserv, a forum established primarily for K-12 educators who are integrating Internet resources into their classrooms. It seems that every day on the list at least one new school announces its arrival on the Web. Indeed, the growth of K-12 school sites on the Web in the past six months or so has been exceeded only by the explosion of commercial sites during the same time.

In the time that I've subscribed to it, the list has been punctuated by "war stories," basic technical questions, a few philosophical debates, and lots of advice and encouragement. In short, from viewing the postings to this list, it seems that these are heady times to be a teacher, assuming your school has the resources and a commitment to exploring how to use them.

Yet while this growth is exciting, it also begs a lot of questions: What value, if any, does technology -- computers, network communication, educational courseware, etc. -- add to the classroom? What sort of training should teachers both receive and provide when it comes to using computers? Who foots the bill for all this? What about access to technology? Who is being excluded?

The list of questions is long, while the list of answers short. Yet I think all would agree that the process of continually questioning and thoughtfully responding is imperative to charting a path through the technological forest that many K-12 educators are now facing. To continue some of the strands of thought and discussion I've "overheard" on the WWWEdu list during the past few months, I asked a few people involved -- in various ways -- in education to elaborate on the experiences, philosophies, and diatribes that in most cases they initiated on the list. The result is what you see here:

Developing a special issue is a tricky thing. For one thing, how do you select who is qualified to voice their opinion? One thing you'll notice is that absent from the pages here are the views of students themselves. This is perhaps a glaring omission, given that many students are much more technologically savvy than their teachers. Yet it was one of the choices I made, given the range of potential issues that could be addressed here. Perhaps next time.

You'll probably also note that while there are a plethora of good, interesting Web sites for use in K-12 classrooms, Kirsten Cooke has provided only a sampler in her exploration of these sites. Again, chalk it up to time and space constraints.

And finally, for all the views expressed here, others are invariably excluded . You might notice that most of the contributors to this issue are male (though not all the people I originally asked to contribute were) despite the fact that issues of gender and technology, particularly in the classroom, are very pressing. To address one of these issues, in the monthly "Last Link" column Camille Shandor presents her views on THIS ISSUE INDEX CONTACT US CMC STUDIES CENTER