The Role of Technology in America’s Schools

Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families
Committee on Education and the Workforce
2175 Rayburn House Office Building
March 8, 2000
Witness List
Ms. Carlene Ellis
Vice President for Education
Intel Corporation
Folsom, CA

Mr. Tony Lee
Senior Director
Worldwide Markets
Apple Computer, Inc.
Cupertino, CA

Mr. Jason Bertsch
Deputy Director of Policy
Empower America
Washington, DC 
Mr. David H. Winston
Senior Vice President
Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates
Alexandria, VA
Mr. Jeffery Chin
Computer Literacy Teacher
Elliott Alternative Education Center
Modesto, CA
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today about the impact of educational technology on teaching and learning. In addition, I will also discuss the roles both business and government can play.
My name is Tony Lee and I am Senior Director of Worldwide Markets for Apple – a position that encompasses a wide range of responsibilities including the marketing of Apple’s educational products and services to the K-12 and Higher Education communities.
Systemic Change
Mr. Chairman, because of technology, the world today is different and it will continue to change. Society is different. Information is different. Communication is different. Work is different. School is different. And because of this, kids need to be educated differently. According to a report published in 1999 by The CEO Forum, sixty percent of the new jobs created in this century will require skills currently held by only twenty percent of today’s workforce. It is critical that our educational system produces kids ready for this different world. It is critical that systemic change occurs more rapidly in our educational system. We believe that well trained teachers who can integrate technology into the curriculum will be a catalyst to drive that change.
Apple’s Role In Education
By working directly with schools for more than two decades, Apple has experienced first hand the impact technology can have on teaching and learning. In fact, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), Apple continues to be the number one brand in education today. Why does Apple care so much about education? Not only because we believe Apple to have the best technology products and services for schools, but intrinsically because Apple cares about teaching and learning. Our products and services are designed to enable students to focus on learning, and teachers to focus on teaching, rather than asking students and teachers to spend much of their precious time learning to use technology.
As you will see, what we have learned through research and experience is that although access to technology is critical, access alone is not enough. As a result, we firmly believe that the Federal government must also focus its attention and resources on technology integration and ongoing professional development for teachers.
Technology Access
Let’s begin by addressing technology access. Access to technology in schools has improved dramatically in recent years. Last month the U.S. Department of Education released statistics indicating that the number of schools connected to the Internet has increased from 35% in 1994 to 95% in 1999. Those statistics also show that the number of individual classrooms connected to the Internet has increased from 3% in 1994 to 51% in 1998 (a number of additional studies indicate for 1999 the figure is near 60%).
Equally important, the student to computer ratio has been reported to be better than 6-to-1 nationwide in 1999, improving significantly from a more than 15-to-1 ratio earlier in the decade. Significant progress is obviously being made, but remember we are still a long way from the promise of a one-to-one computer-to-student ratio. Imagine your office environment if there were only one computer to every six people. This was the environment in an average school in 1999.
Technology Integration
However, access to technology alone does not enhance a student’s ability to learn, or improve a teacher’s ability to teach, without proper integration into the curriculum. Even with the dramatic increases in technology access over the past decade, only 20% of teachers are comfortable integrating technology into classroom instruction (Source: National Center for Educational Statistics, 1999). Thus, even achieving a one-to-one computer ratio would be meaningless if our teachers can’t use the technology or fully integrate it into the curriculum.
Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow
More than a decade ago, Apple initiated a landmark multi-year project entitled Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT). By collaborating with public schools, universities, and government agencies, we studied how the use of technology by teachers and students might impact teaching and learning. ACOT's research demonstrated that the introduction of technology into classrooms can significantly increase the potential for learning, especially when it is used to support collaboration, information access, and the expression and representation of students' thoughts and ideas. (Additional information about Apple’s education research and programs is available under the Education section of the Apple web site, located at
Through ongoing research, we have learned that for technology to make an impact on student achievement it must be utilized as a tool to support thinking and for effective communication and collaboration. These are the very skills that tomorrow’s workplace will demand of its employees.
In addition, Apple learned through its ACOT research that staff development is a critical component for the effective use of technology. The success of technology in America’s classrooms depends upon the skills of the teacher and the support of school administrators.
Professional Development
To truly be able to integrate technology into the curriculum, teachers must be given the time and the opportunity for professional development on an ongoing basis. If this happens, we will witness systemic change in and out of the classroom. Teachers will be more comfortable incorporating technological skills necessary to prepare students for the workplace of tomorrow. Here again, Apple is in the forefront of developing professional development programs.
Apple offers both online and leader-led teacher training through the Apple Learning Professional Development program which consists of workshops, consulting services, and planning products designed to foster change in an educator’s thinking. Apple has also developed a dynamic online learning community called Apple Learning Interchange (ALI), where over 30,000 educators, share, learn, and communicate. For example, suppose that a teacher is preparing a lesson plan around NASA’s exploration of Mars for fifth graders. The teacher would go to ALI on Apple’s website and simply enter his/her subject criteria and grade level into the ALI search engine. In a matter of seconds, an entire list of suggested teaching tools, lesson plans, and appropriate websites would be offered for consideration in lesson planning. In addition, the teacher would become connected directly to a group of teachers who are interested in teaching similar subjects. In essence, ALI provides individual teachers with an entire community of like-minded educators nationwide who share ideas and best practices on teaching with technology, who collaborate on education projects, as well as who explore new and different uses for technology in the classroom. In addition, this content is correlated to state and national standards.
Technology Integration Solutions
Apple continues to take a leadership role in developing educational solutions necessary to help teachers integrate new technologies into their classrooms.
For example, last week at the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) Apple introduced the Apple Learning Series - an integrated suite of software applications and curriculum content for K-12, including online student projects and staff development. These tools are designed for educators and were developed to meet state and federally mandated education standards.
Apple’s incredibly popular iMac computer gives students the perfect technology in the classroom to allow them to focus on learning.
We also recognize that in today’s world, learning happens everywhere; not just in within the confines of a classroom. Apple has sought to respond to this need by developing new technologies that will accommodate the mobile learner. Apple’s iBook embodies this philosophic change by delivering powerful technology in an innovative portable design. Extremely rugged and capable of more than six hours use without a recharge, the iBook is quickly becoming the preferred standard for mobile learning.
In addition, Apple’s AirPort wireless solution, for both iMacs and iBooks, delivers advantages for both educators and learners. A teacher can effortlessly reconfigure a classroom between lessons without having to disconnect and reconnect all the computers. Students have the ability to be connected to each other and to learning resources in diverse environments, leading to effective collaboration on projects.
Apple has also realized that developing tools to prepare students with 21st century workforce skills are critical. The need for digital media skills is growing every day, as evidenced by the growth of the Internet. We also live in a highly visually oriented world, where digital media is the preferred means of communication of our youth. To support this new requirement for teaching and learning, Apple created Desktop Movies. With this technology, students can easily express themselves by creating Desktop Movies that communicate what they’ve learned in a richer, more compelling way. Desktop Movies can also help students express their knowledge of a concept in a way that can be shared with other students in the classroom, or with communities around the globe. Teachers are successfully using Desktop Movies to reenergize themselves and their classrooms. By giving students the opportunity to work with this technology, students are more motivated and more successful in school. Consequently, accountability becomes much less of a concern and teachers can truly focus on teaching and learning in their classrooms. In fact, teachers are using this technology to visually record how they are being effective in the school environment and how their students are developing. Using Desktop Movies, parents can then see the progression of student work over time and teachers can use it as a valuable assessment tool to showcase student achievement.
Additionally, Apple has developed of a number of Internet tools for teachers, students and their parents designed to enhance the educational experience in a meaningful and secure way. We call these Apple iTools. They allow students to collaborate and share over the Internet. One unique iTool, called KidSafe, has received significant praise from educational administrators, teachers and parents. This Internet tool protects our children from inappropriate content by allowing a child access only to pre-screened educator approved sites. Unlike filtering software where a computer program attempts to anticipate the users’ queries, Kidsafe is based on educationally sound Web sites that have been pre-approved by educators.
Clearly, Apple has designed innovative technology that prepares students to be knowledge workers for the 21st Century. Apple’s technologies continue to make a difference in how teachers teach and students learn. At the same time, we recognize that no amount of private sector engagement can replace direct government involvement in supporting technology integration and professional development at the state, local, and at the Federal level.
Focus at the Federal Level
Mr. Chairman, we were invited here today to provide insight into Apple’s extensive history and experience integrating technology into the curriculum. We were also invited to express our opinions on the role of the Federal government in integrating technology in education.
Frankly, from a technology integration perspective, the Federal government’s role is crucial. For although the Federal government only accounts for approximately 7% of all public dollars spent on education, it accounts for 25-30% of the technology dollars spent on education (these figures do not even include the school infrastructure program currently funded by the E-rate program).
So, without question, Apple supports strong technology provisions as an integral part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). At the same time however, we believe that the Federal government must focus those educational resources with respect to technology in those two areas where Apple’s research and experience has proven our school’s are in the most need – technology integration and professional development. It is in these two critical areas that we believe the Federal government’s direct involvement and support can help to best leverage the considerable amount of private resources companies, like Apple, have expended.
In addition, while we support the notion of creating flexibility for states seeking to more effectively utilize the various ESEA programs to meet their unique needs, we would strongly urge the Congress to maintain a specific technology program focus by ensuring that technology allocations established under the Act are used for technology purposes. Finally, once the Act is reauthorized, we would also urge the Congress to continue to support full technology funding throughout the appropriations process.
In closing, let me state that Apple’s goal is to be the leader in providing simple, powerful, quality information products and solutions for people who learn, create, and communicate, particularly students and teachers. Please be assured that Apple remains committed to working together with the Congress and the Administration to better leverage public funding with private capital in finding ways of integrating technology into education as a means of better helping our students learn and our teachers teach.
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today. I will be happy to answer any questions.
Note: For more information on Apple’s education products, services, and programs, please visit the extensive education section of our web site at
Testimony of Mr. Tony Lee